Last year I wrote a post published in Social Media Today that estimated the number of Americans with Facebook accounts at 41.6%. At that time, Facebook had about 500 million accounts worldwide. In the past 10 months the number of Facebook accounts has grown to over 695 million, an astounding 39 percent increase. During that same period, the number of accounts in the United States has grown by 22.5 million, with 151.4 million Americans with accounts as of June 30, 2011, according to checkfacebook.com. In fact, one out of every five Facebook accounts is in the United States, and the US has the largest number of Facebook accounts of any country in the world.
According to the Census Bureau’s population clock, as of June 30, 2011, there were 311.7 million people in the United States, of which 50.8% are woman and 49.2% are men. Of the 151.4 million American’s who have Facebook accounts, woman account for 54.7% and 45.3% are men. Clearly, in the U.S., woman dominate Facebook usage, with 51.6% of woman in the U.S. on Facebook, compared to 44.1% of men. Based on the data, we can estimate that 48.6% of the U.S. population has a Facebook account today.
Not surprisingly, and part of what fuels the perception that Facebook is dominated by college students and kids, 52.8 million accounts are registered to individuals aged 24 and younger, 34.9% of all U.S. Facebook accounts. When you expand the age cohort to 44 years of age and under, this group comprises 113.7 million accounts, 75% of all U.S. accounts. If you remove children under the age of 18, 98 million own Facebook accounts, a whopping 86% of the 113.9 million Americans aged 18-44. Therefore, it should come as no surprise why brands focused on Gen X and Gen Y are using social media channels to engage their consumers.
Even though a younger audience dominates Facebook usage in the U.S., of the top ten countries by number of Facebook accounts, the United States ranks last in the number of accounts owned by individuals under 35 years of age. Consequently, marketers and advertisers have an opportunity to reach an older demographic on Facebook in the U.S. Checkfacebook reports 30.7 million Americans between 45 and 64 have Facebook accounts. With an estimated 82.3 million in this age cohort, more than 1/3 or 37.3% are on Facebook. Individuals 65 and older account for just 4.6% of all U.S. Facebook accounts, 17.2% of that age cohort.
If you are a business, not-for-profit, government agency, or local government, a communications strategy that fails to take advantage of facebook is missing an opportunity to reach a significant audience at a relatively low cost. Clearly the data validates the importance of using traditional communications channels, with slightly over 50% of the population not logging in, but if you are looking to reach those aged 44 and under, how would you spend your scarce advertising, educational, or advocacy dollar?
If your organization is trying to reach those aged 45 to 64, you certainly would have to use traditional communications channels, but you certainly can reduce your costs of reaching that audience by developing an appropriate social media strategy, by focusing some of those scarce resources by posting updates and advertising on Facebook. According to the Nielsen Company, the average active social media user, logs in 19.2 times per month on Facebook, spending an average of 5 hours and 52 minutes on the site. According to digitalbuzzblog:
Over 700 Billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook, 20 million applications are installed per day and over 250 million people interact with Facebook from outside the official website on a monthly basis, across 2 million websites. Over 200 million people access Facebook via their mobile phone. 48% of young people said they now get their news through Facebook. Meanwhile, in just 20 minutes on Facebook over 1 million links are shared, 2 million friend requests are accepted and almost 3 million messages are sent.
If you are a CEO of a business, an Executive Director of a non-profit, a Cabinet Secretary, Legislator, Mayor, Township Supervisor or Borough Manager, the role that social media can play in your communication strategy is a function of who comprises your target audience, and where you can find and engage that audience. Clearly, a portion of that audience, regardless of age, are using social media channels. The key to a successful social media strategy is to identify your audience and determine which social media platforms are appropriate for that engagement. Do you know who your target audience is? Do you have something of value to provide them with so they will engage with you? If so, almost half of them could be listening to what you have to say. Good Luck.
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