UK Seniors Choose Facebook - eMarketer

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UK Seniors Choose Facebook

Seniors who do use social networks are just as likely to use Facebook as other age groups

December 26, 2013

UK seniors are less averse to social networks than one might expect. They certainly use social networks, but perhaps not as much as other age groups, and with less enthusiasm than their children or grandchildren, according to a new eMarketer report, “UK Seniors: Digital on Their Own Terms.”

Of the social networks used by UK seniors, Facebook is the clear winner. A Kantar and TNS Omnibus survey conducted in July 2013 showed 18% of UK consumers ages 65 and older used Facebook. However, usage was considerably lower among this cohort for Google+ (6%), LinkedIn (4%), Twitter (3%) and even more scant for other networks. In reality, the vast majority of seniors (74%) said they used “none of these,” a negative response rate considerably higher than for any other age group studied.

UK Consumers Who Use Social Networks, by Site and Age, July 2013 (% of respondents in each group)

Despite the largest proportion of UK seniors’ social network usage going to Facebook, their level of social network penetration is currently the lowest or one of the lowest of any UK age demographic and will remain so through 2017, eMarketer estimates. Furthermore, seniors’ Facebook penetration is expected to decrease between 2014 and 2017, suggesting that some will choose to no longer use the platform.

eMarketer expects that Facebook penetration among UK seniors will be just more than one-third (34.6%) in 2014, giving seniors’ Facebook penetration an index of 52.2, or a little more than half the UK average. eMarketer predicts this index will rise to 57.6 in 2017, but penetration among seniors will remain the lowest of any demographic, even while it records the highest growth rate.

When it comes to Facebook penetration among UK seniors who are social media users, the index will be much higher, at 96.4, in 2014, and will then dip slightly to 95.2 by 2017. This very high number shows that social-network-using seniors use Facebook at a rate only marginally below the UK average.

Twitter use among UK seniors is a relatively rare activity, eMarketer calculates, and will remain so during the forecast period, with 6.1% in this age group opting to use the social network in 2014. Twitter’s index is particularly low, at 24.5 in 2014 and increasing to just 34.6 in 2017. The relative complexity of setting up a Twitter account, added to the fact that few of their peers use the service, can be a turn-off for seniors when compared with Facebook’s relative simplicity and popularity.

UK Twitter User Penetration, by Age, 2012-2017 (% of internet users in each group)

The proportion of existing UK senior social networkers using Twitter is slightly more in line with the UK average. Fourteen percent of UK senior social media users went on Twitter in 2013, eMarketer estimates, for an index of 45.2. The index will to rise to 57.5, or close to three-fifths the total, in 2017.

The full report, “UK Seniors: Digital on Their Own Terms,” also answers these key questions:

  • How many UK seniors currently use digital media, and how many will do so in the coming years?
  • How does UK seniors’ digital media use differ from the rest of the population?
  • How is their use of digital media changing?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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