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Facebook and Twitter use is still growing in the UK, with adults between 25 and 34 years old and those between 45 and 54 years old driving among the biggest increases in numbers of users, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates. UK residents ages 65 and older will also see a substantial uptick in participation, particularly on Facebook.
Among UK teens and adults ages 18 to 24, growth in the number of monthly active Facebook users is slowing, largely due to already vast use among these age groups and competition for user time on other platforms. But the youngest demographic—those under 12 years old—will see healthy uptake during the forecast period.
Penetration is highest among internet users ages 18 to 24, at 88.3% this year, but that is not terribly far ahead of penetration rates among those ages 12 to 17 and 25 to 34. More than eight in 10 internet users from these age groups also use Facebook. Facebook users are somewhat evenly distributed by age, at least compared to Twitter, though the majority still fall in the 18-to-44 range, at 54.9% this year.
Facebook penetration rates are not expected to shift much over the forecast period; growth will be incremental overall, as most people who plan to use the well-established social networking site likely already do so.
Twitter, by comparison to Facebook, has far fewer users in the UK—9.9 million vs. 29.9 million. This year, the number of active monthly Twitter users is expected to rise by 15.3%. By 2017, 13.8 million people in the UK will use Twitter. The Twitter user base is dominated by adults ages 18 to 44, and while that group will lose share by 2017, it will still account for the bulk of users.
This year, eMarketer expects 67% of UK Twitter users to be between ages 18 and 44. This is down from 69.1% last year, and will fall further to 62.7% by 2017, as older users begin to take up a larger share of the Twitter audience. Usage by teens and children under 18, however, is expected to fall as a percent of the total user base.
Twitter penetration among UK internet users is highest in the 18-to-24 age group, at 36.8% this year, and lowest among the oldest users. eMarketer expects penetration to remain highest among adults under 45, with nearly four in 10 online 25- to 34-year-olds and 44.9% of 18- to 24-year-olds using Twitter by 2017. The fastest growth, this year, in terms of monthly user numbers, will be among those under 12 years old—a group growing from a small base—and those over 44 years old, with the oldest users posting robust growth rates throughout the forecast period.
To develop our figures on UK social network use, eMarketer analyzed more than 220 data points collected from more than 40 research groups. For example, to forecast monthly active Twitter users, eMarketer compiled and evaluated survey and traffic data from audience measurement companies, industry associations, academic institutions, major online media platforms, and regulatory agencies. We also factored into our estimates Twitter and Facebook company releases, historical trends, internet and mobile adoption trends, and demographic adoption trends.
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