Social media goes mainstream

I was interested to read this article in The Times yesterday, which said that social networking sites are no longer the preserve of geeky teenage boys. Instead, the article argued, women now form more than half the audience of many social networking sites, the fastest growing demographic of which is those aged over 35.

It’s great to see social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook going mainstream, but I think this has less to do with celebrity users like Sarah Brown (though they probably help), and more to do with people realising that there is actually a tangible benefit from using them.

With any new technology, there’s always an initial period of hesitancy before it is adopted by mainstream users. It seems obvious now, but in 2005 I remember wondering what on earth Facebook was and what was the point of signing up. Now, it’s the main way I keep in touch with friends from school, university and places I’ve worked – friends with whom I would otherwise have lost touch.

The reason why women and over-35s are cottoning on to social media is because it’s no longer just a fad that teenagers are into. They have found a reason for using it, whether it’s networking for their jobs or keeping in touch with friends, and a way of fitting it into their daily lives.

Instead of being put off by technology, increasingly tech-savvy users are realising these tools can be a useful way of making contacts or saving time, or just transferring networks that might once have been face-to-face online, because it can be a quicker and easier way to interact.

This is a really positive development for media organisations because if this trend continues, it will mean journalists can expand their online offering and converse with more and more of their readers across a whole range of platforms.

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