Thursday, October 05, 2006

Are MySpace Users Getting Old?

According to the latest comScore report, over half of MySpace users are the in 35 and older age range.

“The most significant shift has occurred among teens 12-17, who accounted for 24.7 percent of the MySpace audience in August 2005, but today represent a much lower 11.9 percent of the site’s total audience. Conversely, Internet users between the ages of 35-54 now account for 40.6 percent of the MySpace visitor base, an 8.2 percentage point increase during the past year.” (Quote from comScore)

According to Liz Gannes at GigaOm, they called “Fox Interactive spokesperson Ann Burkart to ask if comScore is off the deep end on this one, and she said the numbers are actually totally accurate with what MySpace is seeing internally.”

Because the press release only has percentages, it is really hard to tell what drives these numbers. Keep in mind that the report also shows a dramatic decrease in MySpace users in the 12-17 age range making it difficult to tell how fast the over 35 age range is really growing. Increasing as a “percentage” relative to other age ranges can also be caused by dramatic decreases in another group.

Assuming that the over 35 crowd is driven by real growth, I have a number of ideas about what could cause this growth.

  • 99 year olds: MySpace has a large number of 99 year old participants, which typically fall into a couple of camps: the “too young to be allowed” group and the “old enough not admit a real age group”.

  • Parents: With the recent press coverage over the past year focused on the dark side of MySpace (exploitation, sexual predators, etc.), I know quite a few parents of teenagers who use MySpace to better understand it and to keep an eye on their teenagers who use the site. Most parents of teenagers would fit into the 35-54 age range.

  • Bloggers, Techies, and Journalists: I am 35, and I have a MySpace page. I created it as a way to better understand social networking for the purpose of blogging and other writing, but I have found that it helps me keep in touch with a few of my younger friends.

  • Perverts: I assume there are also a few wackos in the over 35 age group that join for less than honorable reasons.

It would be great if some ambitious social networking researcher could do an in depth study to figure out what exactly is driving this change in the MySpace demographics.


typewritermark said...

Excellent Work!

bonusbeats said...

There are plenty of over-35s on MySpace who are actually there to participate and I count myself among them.

The music focus on MySpace drives a lot of this and a current trend for rediscovering music of the 70s and 80s, means that many older producers have started a myspace page so they can connect with both the younger audience and regroup with the scene.

My Space is also a really easy way for someone who makes something-be it music, art, film etc-to create a quick internet presence one that they don't have to do a lot to maintain.

Also, and this is just speculation, but there are a lot of over 35 year olds who because of the demands of being new parents (as opposed to watchful ones), are cut off from the social arenas they once were able to take part in. Who spends more time at home in front of the computer: a 37 year old dad who has the baby to take care of or a 25 year old who is footloose and fancy free?