by Robert van Alstyne
Once upon a time, Facebook was essentially a digital dorm, a collegiate-only outpost where saucy banter and hard-partying profile pictures carried the day. Not anymore, now that Mom, Dad and even Grandma have crashed the party. As of May 2010, half of Internet users age 50 to 64 were using social networking sites, double the figures of just a year prior (SeniorJournal.com 8.27.10). And according to an April 2010 study, nearly 20% of teens are using Facebook less or drifting away altogether (Mashable.com 6.30.10).
Younger consumers aren’t done with digital hobnobbing, of course, and never will be — they’re just looking for a new safe space to let it all hang out. For the campus-dwelling crowd, that will likely arrive later this year when heavily financed and intentionally age-segregated sites like CollegeOnly and Scoop launch.
In the years to come, Millennials will continue refining a multiple-personality approach to their digital identity. They’ll likely always have a “public” face in the crowd at major players like Facebook — a formal outpost to give the general gist of their life story to the masses, wish former high school friends a happy birthday, and (gasp) intentionally share pics with their parents. And they’ll continue to experiment with a more intimate and extensive presence elsewhere. Social media marketing plans should be devised accordingly.