Something we intuitively know is that on a mass scale social networking is no longer just the domain of the young (though some people I come into contact with still think it is). Comscore have reported that 25 million unique users in the UK visited social networking sites during November (the latest month for which data is available), making 24 separate visits and each spending an average of over five and a half hours on the sites. No-one should doubt how mainstream this now is. In order to better understand this transition I’ve run some numbers showing how the composition of the user bases of the three main networks has changed over the last year (source: Comscore). The degree of change in this relatively short space of time is remarkable.
First up, growth in user numbers broken down by age:
And secondly, the user base composition (%) by age:
Fascinating to speculate about where this will go from here. Heavier users are already very aware of the differentiators between the networks. I was talking to my 14 year old nephew the other day about this. He’s on Bebo and so are his mates (and so, it seems, are most of his school). He likes Bebo because of it’s security options (the degree of control and ability to report cyber-bullying) and it’s smart entertainment based focus (particularly the ease of posting and sharing video). He thinks of Facebook as being older, and something he’ll get into when he goes to college. Interesting also that he thought My Space was "messy" and looked "cheap". Surely it is inevitable that delineations like this will become more and more evident over time.