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Silver Surfers: The New Social Networking Wave

babyboomer coupleThe Pew Internet and American Life Project produce fascinating results that bloggers ought to pay heed to. Blogs, or online journals, are a way for internet users to express themselves creatively or to document their experiences. About one in ten internet users contribute to a blog; one in three internet users read blogs.

Silver surfers creating content

Recent data suggests that some online content creating activities have remained constant over time, while others have shown slight or even significant declines since 2006.  Adults, however, have shown some increases in content creating over the past few years, with most of the increases found among adults older than 30.

Silver surfers flocking to social networks

Did you know that the average internet  user this spring was a 45-year-old female, using it for the purpose of staying socially connected, and that they were strongly attracted to Facebook?  While the stereotype of older users has been that they only log in every so often to look at pictures of the kids or grandkids, that report and the most recent one (August 27, 2010) suggests otherwise.  Silver surfers are flocking to the internet in high numbers and social networking use among Internet users 65 and older grew by a staggering 100 percent in the last year.

How Men and Women Use the Internet
The Changing Picture of Who’s Online and What They Do
Report: Older users flocking to Facebook, Twitter

Older adults and social media

The most recent data in the most recent study Older Adults and Social Media reveals:

  • social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled — from 22% to 42% over the past year;
  • (47%) of internet users ages 50-64 and one-in-four (26%) users ages 65 and older now use social networking sites;
  • between April 2009 and May 2010, internet users ages 50-64 who said they use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn grew 88% and those ages 65 and older grew 100% in their adoption of the sites, compared with a growth rate of 13% for those ages 18-29.

Your audience

All bloggers seek to reach the largest audience they can with news that they have published a new article.  The better blogger knows that targeted readers are the most valuable traffic stream as they are most likely to become regular readers/subscribers. Consequently, determining who the audience is for your particular content, where they can be found, and publishing what they want to read is  is important. Visitor tracking and traffic stats provide only part of the picture that assist bloggers to:

  1. Know their audience.
  2. Determine who is visiting their site.
  3. Tailor their content to their audience.
  4. React quickly to  emerging trends.

Locating demographic data

Although the data are  specific to the USA, we bloggers can determine the different filters to run this through for our respective countries.  For those who are looking for all survey questions asked in polls and reports, take note that we can search the Pew Internet and American Life Project Poll Database by keyword, topic, or date range.

This is the report for this site obtained from Alexa: is one of the top 100,000 sites in the world has a three-month global Alexa traffic rank of 54,735, and visitors to the site view 2.3 unique pages each day on average. Visitors to the site spend about 67 seconds on each pageview and a total of five minutes on the site during each visit. Compared with internet averages, the site appeals more to users who browse from home; its visitors also tend to consist of low-income men aged under 25 and over 35. Approximately 55% of visits to is one of the top 100,000 sites in the world are bounces (one pageview only).

Click the images below to view at  full size.



Another site we bloggers can obtain data from is click the image below to view at  full size.

quantcast demographics

As a website publisher, you can use Quantcast to determine the composition of your own audience. This can help you target your content and attract advertisers. To increase the accuracy of your data, create a free “Quantified Publisher” account and copy a personalized Quantcast tag into your website pages to help gather direct data. Read more: How to Find Website Demographics

Questions for discussion

  1. Do you know of any other sites that provide blog specific demographics free of charge?
  2. Is your site content attractive to silver surfers?
  3. Is the educational level of your blog content and the language you use in your articles a barrier to silver surfers?

16 thoughts on “Silver Surfers: The New Social Networking Wave

  1. This truly empowers. My writing primarily focuses on social ills that plague our communities. I have an interest in the underserved and the hard to serve populations. This has led me to write to bring about a positive change. This enlightens me. I am of the baby boomers. Again; all I can say is awesome.

  2. This is basically a new concept called as behavioral marketing. Google too is focusing on this as it is testing its SocialNetoworking site in order to stand up in the Market against facebook

  3. This info will determine the kind of market that will emerged. It looks like a promiscing demographic. So we will be expecting more challenging online content and less on bubblegum pop. As always your article provokes the mind and puts a smile on the face.

  4. Time thief, thanks again for useful and timely information. I’m with Jean re how do they know my age? Which reminds me I still have to go back and read your articles about the breadcrumb trails…. I do not use these tools yet, but have been looking for something besides WPress’s own for better analysis on the commercial blog for which I now write – so will be reviewing this in more detail in the next few days. In both my own and the commercial blog, the content and writing level certainly presumes an educated audience – and the product subject matter of commercial blog, Port wine, is one which should have appeal to older populace, though we are aiming to build brand devotees and wine geek audience across all age ranges. I admit I winced at “silver surfer”, but I better get used to it, I suppose…

  5. Good tips there TT!

    I’ve never really thought about demographic datas – it certainly is worth the consideration.

    I think I have a variety of readers from different age groups and it is safe to pressume that “silver surfers” might find my contents interesting because it is well presented. Recently, I am trying to attract a different group of readers by incorporating photography in my blog. Afterall, it is my hobby and I’ve noticed there are a few hobby photographers out there. I try my best to be articulate and hopefully, as I improve in my writing, I can attract a bigger audience. I hope the blog will grow with me as I learn more things about blogging. :)

  6. Parts of this post worry me. Particularly this: “Adults, however, have shown some increases in content creating over the past few years, with most of the increases found among adults older than 30.”

    Please tell me that ‘Silver Surfers’ aren’t defined as people over thirty!

    Maybe Pete Townsend right when he sang, “hope I die before I get old!” His definition of being old, at that stage of his life, having been thirty.


  7. In the UK, we have an annual Silver Surfers Day. There is a lot of publicity leading up to it. On the day itself, schools,colleges, libraries etc open their doors for the day to the over 60’s where they can have free tuition and familiarisation in using the internet. Volunteers are recruited to act as tutors for the day.
    I have no real idea of the age range of my blog readers but I wouldn’t have thought my content appealed to younger people. Certainly the language and tone of my blogs such be comfortable with more mature people.
    You know, I personally dislike the label ‘Silver Surfer’. All labels serve to stereotype and never in a positive way. It lumps anyone over a certain age into a homogenous group – yet the only thing they may have in common is being born before a certain date.

    I don’t know of any other means of metrics, I just have analytics (installed yesterday -eventually!)
    Well done on the Alexa ranking by the way!

  8. I’m still trying to figure out if at any point, people who subscribe to the Internet even provide their age info.

    Otherwise how could some of these services provide demographic use metrics / analysis for one’s own website/blog? I don’t recall giving my age range, etc. to any Internet service provider. Am puzzled here.

    I am not certain of the demographics of those who do visit my blogs. I am aware there are some readers who do fall in the 50’s and beyond age group. But have no idea their proportion in relation to all.

    The way how the blogs are written does assume that the reader has at least, high school level education and more likely, beyond.

    As for the older set catching onto social media…so glad that this is kicking the stereotypes. These tools will become more powerful/useful over time.

    Think nursing home advocacy by the residents themselves….getting evidence while one emails, blogs from the nursing home.

    Bring it on!

  9. Awesome….Alexa and Quantcast seem like the alternative to Google Analytics that I have been searching for. For reasons I am unable to successfully explain, I am not a fan of Google Analytics.

  10. I use a site called Performancing Metrics as a free statistics site. It provides much more detailed information than my WordPress stats. Plus, it has a cool “spy” feature that actually lets you see a map of who is on your site in real-time. You can upgrade to a pro account to do things like setting goals or setting up campaigns, but the free tools are pretty great.

  11. Thanks for these great tips. I have both Alexa and Quantcast. I just need to go back and check them. My blog is nowhere near the 100,000 mark tho.. lol.. Great article. Thank-you! :-)

  12. timethief – This is really fascinating data to consider. I loved getting a look at your Alexa report. Congratulations on being in the top 100,000 blogs. It’s interesting to see that so many young men visit your blog – not that I’m looking to hook up or anything!

    I don’t know of any other sites that provide demographic info and want to follow up on the ones you provided.

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