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Too old for Facebook? October 3, 2008

Posted by Kevupnorth in social networking, Uncategorized, web2.0.
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There was a bit of good news for Web 2.0 enthusiasts in the MJ this week, with a two page spread on innovation (see the “How Innovative Is Your Council” post) and an article on the use of social networking.  Refreshingly, the Facebook article was written by a facebook user, meaning it looked at the network from a far more positive angle than a lot of mainstream articles.

Sadly, neither of the stories looked at facebook and innovation from the point of view of adults.  It’s generally accepted that young people should be contacted through social networking (65% of councils agree, according to the MJ article) but I wonder how that would change if it was looked at from an older persons perspective?

Steve Dale looked at this during an IDeA presentation recently (I wasn’t there, I just read the blogs and slides), citing Ofcom statistics that even in the ‘over 65’ catagory, 3% of people have a social network profile.  In America, facebook recently released statistics showing that, while 52% of facebook users are in the 18-25 catagory, only 15% are under 18.

My own facebook network backs this up.  Using the wonderful socialistics application, I can see that, while unrepresentative of society as a whole, of my 261 friends, only 9% are 18 or under and 18% are over 40.  As websites like Forces Reunited become more social, maybe we can expect these figures to rise.  Certainly, as the 50+ year olds become the 60+ year olds, the next decade will see social network statistics soar amoung older people.

That’s why I was drpessed to see that only 33% of councils have actually tried contacting young people using social networks.  Indeed, my local authority colleagues report that facebook is dismissed at best and blocked at worse.  If  we’re missing out on this obvious community, we’re certainly missing the failed to reach groups.

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