What Keeps Your Audience Online?


A recent study released by the Pew Research Center found that 65 percent of adults who spend time on the Internet are using social networking sites, more than double the amount (29 percent) since 2008; only five percent of adults were using social networking sites as recently as 2005. Forty-three percent of adults who use social networking sites participate daily, and social networking ranks third as the most frequent daily task performed online, falling just behind email and search, respectively.

The report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project also found that young adults under the age of 30, particularly women, are the “power users of social networking,” with most participating in social networking sites on a daily basis. However, according to the study, users older than 50 have been flocking to social networking sites in greater numbers during recent years. In particular, the number of adults older than 65 who use social networks has increased by 150 percent, from 13 percent (April 2009) to 33 percent (May 2011). The number of 50–64-year-olds who use social networks has doubled, from 25 percent to 51 percent, in the same time frame.

What does this mean for B2B marketers? We don’t know which social networking sites adults use most frequently, but the important thing to note is that they are there. Although there are certainly differences among B2B and B2C marketing, people do business with people, regardless of the industry. This report is telling us that more adults are spending time online, and spending more time on social networking sites.

How can you find out what “your” people are doing on social networking sites? You can start by gathering information and researching about your audience’s online behaviors from industry publications and associations. You can also survey your own customer base. What sites are they using? How often? For what purpose: business or personal use? What are they looking for? Are they finding what they need? How do they contribute?

Finding this information and answering these questions can help you develop or strengthen your existing social networking presence and further engage with your key audience.

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