Gen X Leads The Way In Social Media

496278720Historical wisdom was that youth were the early adopters and heavy users of social media. And it was truth. But times and social media has changed. Social media actually began in the late 90s but didn’t become a “thing” until Myspace in 2004 and Facebook in 2005. So we are now roughly 13 years from its real infancy.

Today, the number of platforms, usage by age group and means of usage have all radically changed. But perhaps the biggest change is that youth no longer leads the way. Gen X defined as those aged 35-49 are the heaviest users of social according to the 2016 Nielsen Social Media Report. According to the recently released report, Gen Xers spend 6 hours, 58 minutes weekly with social media. This is 10 % more than Millennials who spend compared to 6 hours, 19 minutes weekly on social. Even seniors spend more than 4 hours weekly on social. These trends also cut across White, Hispanic and African American users. However, Asian America users show about 1/3 usage less than the other segments.

The growth of social across all demos is directly related to those “cellphones” in each of our pockets. Though we all use phones as the nomenclature, sending and receiving calls is only a minority of usage of the devices. There’s no surprise that the Verizons, AT&Ts and others changed their business models away from phone usage to data usage a few years ago. They clearly understood Jerry Maguire and the concept of “following the money”. The money is in data. Today smartphone usage is virtually universal. Only Leroy (“Jethro”) Gibbs has a flip phone anymore. 97% of Millennials and 94% of Gen Xers now have smartphone access. And their social usage reflect this 78% of social usage (Millennials) and 68% of social usage (Gen Xers) done via smartphone.

While Facebook continues to be the #1 platform (with its “sister” Instagram #2) social usage expands across multiple platforms, large and niche.

With social now 10+ years old, it’s not surprising to see those who were in their 20s back in the mid 2000s now continue their usage as Gen Xers in 2017. And with our 70 year old President having a twitter obsession, it’s clear that youth, while still critical, are no longer leading the way in social media usage.

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