Teens AND Seniors Still Love Facebook

Even though we work with dozens of clients across a wide variety of industries, again and again we hear the same falsehood repeated by marketing directors and product managers:

Teenagers aren’t on Facebook anymore. They think it’s lame. Secondly, senior citizens aren’t flocking to Facebook. I swear it’s just my mom and my Aunt Pattie.

Well, here’s the truth: teenagers are most definitely still on Facebook, and there are literally millions of senior citizens (including your mom and Aunt Pattie) on the platform, too. One of the reasons we’re adamant about this point is that we’ve observed that ads directed to teens AND seniors both do very well in terms of return on ad spend (ROAS), click-through-rate (CTR), and cost-per-acquisition (CPA). Furthermore, we can prove–with actual data!–that teens and seniors aren’t leaving Facebook en masse. Let’s start with those pesky teenagers.

Teens use Facebook much differently than adults over the age of 18 use Facebook. Teens are constantly connected and logged into a variety of social networks 24/7. They post photos for friends on Instagram, read news and latest trends on Twitter, watch videos on YouTube, and send quick pics via Snapchat. So their social networks have various purposes: one for sharing photos with a close group of friends, one for a text-like photo exchanges, one for reading news, etc.

Facebook combines all of these activities into a relevant, “must check” network for teens. Teens use Facebook to watch viral videos, follow celebrities, causes, and companies they’re interested in, and to also engage with friends and families’ life experiences. Experts continue to debate Facebook’s stronghold on tweens and teens, yet here’s some data from The Pew Research Center:

  • 95% of teens have internet access
  • 78% have phones, 47% are smartphones
  • 80% have access to a desktop or laptop
  • 23% have access to tablets

So, they’re connected. Now let’s get to the good stuff.

  • 81% of teens use social networking sites
  • 77% use Facebook
  • 25% use Instagram (Teens’ use of Instagram is steadily rising)

Remember: Facebook owns Instagram and recently announced Instagram would be a publisher for their new ad network, Atlas. As we discussed in a previous blog post, Atlas will feature Facebook’s ad tools and targeting options, which is fantastic news for online marketers because we’ll be able to use Facebook and Instagram’s dual data for better targeting, and because the two networks will continue to become more closely aligned in coming months and years.

Other arguments center on engagement. Facebook still holds high usage from teens and they are still very much engaged with Facebook’s content. To quote from the earlier Wall Street Journal piece, “Researchers predict that increasing smartphone usage will help drive even more teenagers to Facebook, whose mobile app is one of the most widely used in the world. As today’s 12- and 13-year-olds grow into 16- and 17-year-olds, it’s likely their Facebook adoption will increase even further.”

And now onto seniors!

  • 59% of senior citizens aged 65+ are online
  • Of these folks, 71% go online everyday and 82% go online at least weekly.
  • Read additional insights here, many thanks Pew Research Center!

Additionally, 46% of online seniors use social networking sites, with the clear winner being Facebook over Twitter or Instagram. The article goes on to explain that “as is the case for the online population as a whole, older women are more likely than older men to use social networking sites. Half (52%) of female internet users ages 65+ are social networking site adopters, compared with 39% of older men.”

In a similar vein as teens, seniors use Facebook differently than adults ages 18-65. While members of Generations X or Y may quickly scroll through Facebook status updates, seniors stop and read posts one-by-one. Perhaps most importantly, seniors frequently engage with (comment, like, share) Facebook posts and their friends’ content, more so than other age groups. Seniors also highlight another interesting trend: they use tablets just as much as they use smartphones, so if you’re trying to reach seniors with online ads, tablet targeting is key whereas younger audiences tend to be more focused only on their phones and not tablets or desktops.

We hope we’ve convinced you that teens AND seniors are definitely still on Facebook, and definitely still worth your attention and ad dollars.

Also, keep in mind your beloved Aunt Pattie may not readily admit to clicking on a Facebook ad for warm, snuggly winter slippers…


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