Since its inception, there has been a widespread fallacy that youth dominate the social media scene. Much of this myth can be attributed to the fact that younger demographics tend to be early adopters on new technologies and social platforms, as well as being at the heart of much viral activity. However, recent years have seen a dramatic shift in consumer trends, resulting in social media becoming heavily populated amongst older audiences.

Recognising these trends is critical to online success in that it opens up new opportunities to make connections with targeted users, who you may otherwise have assumed were not present on such channels. In addition, understanding the makeup of the core user demographics can assist you in making sensible decisions around who is best in your team to manage specific social media platforms.

So, let’s take a look at the social media usage statistics for 2013:

While it’s still fair to say that Facebook is a great way to connect with the younger 18-24 year old audience (24%), what is now clear is that Facebook also presents unique opportunities to target the 25+ segment and even those in the 45-54 age range (11%), who are often overlooked as Facebook users. Meanwhile, it is instantly clear that Twitter is dominated by the 25-44 years segment, who make up a massive 57% of all users.

What’s more, the largest LinkedIn user demographic is the over 55s at 26%, highlighting it as a key platform for engaging with more mature audiences. Pinterest also experiences high levels of adult users, with a very small youth demographic of just 4% (13-17 year olds) and the majority of users aged between 25 and 34 years old.

Clearly, the notion that social media is predominantly used by and made for the young is ill-conceived. Not only are social media channels heavily populated by older users but on all platforms evaluated, minus LinkedIn (but only by 1% difference with the 55+ year segment), the 25-34 year old demographic is the dominant user group, followed closely by those between 35 and 44 years of age.

So, it may be time for many businesses to reevaluate the way they utilise social media and target consumers. The best marketing communications are based on a thorough understanding of your users, meaning you present relevant content, on the right channels, at the right time.