Does Age Matter in Social Media for Business?

Last week we shared a post about how gender affects a marketer’s success in social media. Now we ask, “what’s age got to do with it?”

We hear day in and day out that social media is a young person’s game, but our data shows that wisdom may play an important role in digital marketing – especially for those in executive positions.

Does older age mean “old school” marketing tactics?

Meeting prospects at conferences and conventions is an old school tactic, right? The data shows that there might actually be some truth to that.

Executives ages 25-34 are the least likely to rely on in-person lead generation tactics, while the 35 and up crowd are much more likely to turn to conferences and other events to meet prospects.

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General perceptions of social media

Which age groups are most confident in the power of digital marketing tools? According to our survey, those most supportive of digital as a lead gen tactic fall between the ages of 35-44 and 65 and up.

The age group that is least¬†confident in digital lead generation tools is the youngest – 18-24 year olds. That may be because the younger group hasn’t had the chance to taste success and see online actions translate directly into sales.

social media, agency

Executives on social mediaexecutive, demographics

Agency executives generate a lot of buzz about social media, but true understanding of the tools comes from firsthand experience. Understanding the language and intricacies of a platform like Twitter means… tweeting.

We asked agency executives if they use the big three social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) on behalf of their company on a regular basis.

For Facebook, the correlation looks like this: the older an executive is, the less likely he or she is to use Facebook. Not to mention that 100% of the 18-24 year old crowd uses Facebook. Not a particularly surprising stat.

The youngest segment is most likely by far to use Twitter, followed at a distance by 35-44 and 25-34 year olds. Agency executives aged 45-64 and 65+ appear to be fairly sparse on Twitter. The data also shows that overall, executives are much more likely to be on Facebook and LinkedIn as opposed to Twitter (with the exception of the 18-24 year olds).

But when it comes to LinkedIn, the 65+ range dominates, with 78% currently active on the professional networking platform. The rest of the age groups are fairly even when it comes to participation on LinkedIn. This might indicate a propensity for older generations to use LinkedIn to “stay in the loop” and keep abreast of the latest industry developments through groups and professional status updates.

Social engagement plans for 2012

Finally, we wanted to know whether age affects an executive’s plans for social media use in the future.

Our research shows that while support for social media programming in 2012 is similar across all age groups, executives ages 35-54 are the most invested in improving social media efforts in the new year.

social media executives

So what is the effect of age on a marketer’s success in social media? Let’s break it down:

  • Older executives are the most likely to rely on in-person business development tactics, but are also the most likely to be active on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in reaching these wise and experienced individuals conferences and trade shows may be the answer.
  • Millennial execs (18-24 year olds) are the most likely to be on Facebook and Twitter, yet they have the least amount of confidence in digital programming for business development purposes. That’s a paradox if we’ve ever seen one.
  • Finally, the 35-54 age group is the most invested in improving social engagement efforts in 2012. That may speak to having tasted moderate success in 2011 – these execs know where to place budget in social media to improve sales and aren’t afraid to make big moves in the coming year.
Do you think age has anything to do with a marketer’s succes in social media? Share your thoughts in the comments below or¬†tweet us your response.