Data Deep Dive: Can brands reach older demographics on Facebook?

June 16, 2011

Data Deep Dive

Can you really reach older demographics on Facebook? Let's see what the data says. (Image credit:












I get a lot of my ideas for blog posts from research and companies don’t pay enough attention to the data before they launch campaigns. So Data Deep Dive was born…a weekly look inside the numbers as a communicator tries to make sense of the math.

Today’s data (from eMarketer)

By November 2010, over-55s had begun to close the gap, however, and by April 2011, nearly half were connecting with brands. Engagement had also risen among 18- to 34-year-olds as well as the 35-to-54 age group over the period. Overall, 59 percent of adult Facebook users had “liked” a brand as of April, up from 47 percent the previous September. Uptake among the oldest users appears to have been a major factor in this rise.











Why is this top of mind?

I thought we were over the “Facebook is only for those young whippersnappers” stereotype I used to hear nonstop a few years back. But I am still consistently hearing the argument that Facebook isn’t a place to connect with Boomers or Pre-boomers. I have to disagree. The numbers overwhelmingly show that Facebook has penetrated our society across all generations and having a Facebook account is becoming almost as common as having broadband Internet access.

What other numbers should we consider?

  • 85 percent of teenage word of mouth (WOM) takes place offline. And 93 percent of general WOM happens away from a computer, iPad, cell phone, etc. (
  • More than 150 million people in the United States are on Facebook. (
  • There are 310 million people in the United States…as in, the entire country’s population. (

Key takeaways

  • This just in…You can reach everyone on Facebook. Everyone. If you read the stats above, you now know that half of the U.S. population is on Facebook. HALF! The 35-54 demographic and 55-plus included. Remember, according to that eMarketer research, 62 percent of the 35-54s and 43 percent of the 55-plusers have liked a brand on Facebook. Have to be on Facebook to do that.
  • Remember those WOM stats. Well, if you look at the population numbers and Facebook users, every person in the United States is just one degree of separation away from someone who uses Facebook. Ok, it isn’t quite that neat and tidy. But c’mon…Can anyone really look at those numbers and say you can’t reach older demographics, or any demographics for that matter, on Facebook?
  • Don’t forget that a person doesn’t have to be on Facebook for a Facebook conversation to reach them. That 93 percent of offline WOM conversations could be discussing things avid Facebook users first heard about on the world’s most popular social network.
  • Facebook is not the only place you should be trying to reach the 35-54s and 55-pluses. Let’s not get carried away. But a Facebook presence is approaching, if not already equal to, a website presence. And I know you’d say a company without a website is a company without much hope.
  • Facebook needs to be on the radar and in the discussion…especially with the introduction of social search and +1 into the search engine world. Because we know search engines — mostly Google — are where most people across all generations start their online sessions.


  • So what did I miss? Would you interpret the data a different way?
  • Are you still running into skeptics when it comes to reaching older demographics on Facebook?
  • Has Facebook reached “website level” in your mind? Does a company have to have a Facebook presence?

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Justicewordlaw 115 pts

Well, I feel that more boomers and pre-boomers would be more inclined to get a Facebook account more than just a Twitter account. So, for the boomers that are still saying that Facebook is for young people those are probably the still people using dial up or just don't understand how to leverage Facebook at all. For companies it is a good idea to have an engaging Facebook page. Every company might have one but only a few actually engage and talk to the people that actually like their page.

JGoldsborough 163 pts

Justicewordlaw Good call on the difference between having a Facebook presence and using Facebook the right way to listen and engage. I think what this data shows is the opportunity is there for brands because more and more people across all age demos are integrating Facebook into their online experiences.

Justicewordlaw 115 pts

You are totally correct with that. More people are understanding how to leverage Facebook to gain more exposure. JGoldsborough