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Different Social Networks Are... Different 89

An anonymous reader writes "International Business Times reports that not all online social networks are the same, according to new research released this week. Internet research firm, comScore Networks, said on Thursday that significant age differences exist between the user bases of these websites. "While the top social networking sites are typically viewed as directly competing with one another, our analysis demonstrates that each site occupies a slightly different niche," commented Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix."
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Different Social Networks Are... Different

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  • Also here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kangburra ( 911213 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @09:56AM (#16363535)
    The original press release []
  • Submission info (Score:5, Informative)

    by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Monday October 09, 2006 @10:00AM (#16363563)
    It seems that /. is getting submissions with less and less substance. The submission linked a 204 word blurb that predictably had information content somewhere inbetween zero and nothing (it was a 'business times' site after all). The actual comscore article is here. [] It has some interesting data.

    • That must be him swallowing the advertiser's load.
    • It seems that /. is getting submissions with less and less substance.

      That's because Slashdot submissions are selected on the basis of quantity, not quality.

      It's like this. Currently the Slashdot selection process is random or quasi-random. It's safe to assume that selection is based less on individual submission quality as it is based on the likelihood of that submission being randomly, or quasi-randomly selected for consideration by the editor. The key to getting a submission on the front page is to spam a

      • by Deven ( 13090 ) *
        Excellent analysis. I've spent 30 minutes before writing a well-researched summary with links to informative pages, on topics of clear interest to the community, only to have them randomly rejected with no explanation. As a result, I've mostly given up on submitting stories -- it's a waste of my valuable time.

        An obvious solution presents itself -- extend the moderation system to allow moderators to rate stories, much like Kuro5hin does. Then present only the +5 (or maybe +10) stories to the editors to be
    • Thanks for that link - interesting stats indeed.

      Just looking at the total percentages across all the sites makes interesting reading - it suggests the the 35-45 crowd are actually the biggest users of social sites - the percentage is highest for them on all sites apart from facebook, and that's only half a percent behind.

      Why have these sites acquired such a reputation then as teen-havens? Is it simply they're the most vocal or aggressive socialites? Or the numbers "Just Plain Wrong"(tm)?
  • Makes sense... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by revlayle ( 964221 )
    ... different /. news items are dupes. no, wait, that's not right....
  • You think MySpace is now mostly populated by older men because it used to mostly be populated by teenage girls? (Or teenage boys; ask your local Republican about that.)
    • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @10:25AM (#16363803) Homepage
      I created a MySpace account because I like new and unusual music. In my experience, people in their 20's and 30's are more interested in unsigned bands and new music than teenagers are. In fact, the person who sent me a "request" to join MySpace was a composer of experimental "classical" music whose work I've followed for years!

      MySpace has become virtually obligatory for musicians, and may be part of the path to breaking the major labels' control of the music production and distribution system.

      I still can't stand MySpace, though. Hideous, hideous pages.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jfengel ( 409917 )
        I think that may be because the music industry targets teenagers. I'm not entirely certain why; teenagers don't have as much money as the 20-and-ups. Perhaps because they're more homogeneous: rather than produce 20 indie bands to hit 20 million 30-year-olds, they can produce 1 band to hit 15 million teenagers with easily-led tastes.
        • I think you hit the second bit on the head of the nail, you can sell the same thing to TONS of teens before they grow up/go to college and develop their own tastes. The way that teens are kept in close contact with only those people of their exact age group tends to allow for enormous growth of fads (and thats essentially what top 40 music is).

          As for the first part of your question, they may have less incomes but they are generally said to have greater disposable income. When they start to get their fi

      • by Gilmoure ( 18428 )
        Maybe it's because musicians pay attention to their ears and don't notice the visual atrocities that is MySpace?
    • by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @11:01AM (#16364311)
      That reminds me of the famous quote by an economist, can't remember who, who said, that for instance, at a ski lodge, there are many young girls looking for husbands, and many husbands looking for young girls, but the situation is not exactly transitive...
      • Of course it's not transitive.. that would imply that young girls are looking for husbands, husbands are looking for young girls, therefore young girls are looking for young girls. If my memory of ski lodges and young girls serves me right, that isn't true.

        I think you meant symmetric, not transitive..
  • Shocking! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Atraxen ( 790188 )
    Wait, you're telling me that Craigslist, Myspace, and have different audiences? Say it ain't so!

    Thank the gods that Mark Foley has been bridging the gap between the Congressional Record and the A/S/L generation...
  • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <> on Monday October 09, 2006 @10:08AM (#16363649) Homepage
    The take-home message seems to be that as these sites get more entrenched in society, they look more like society at large. Myspace has over 100 million users, on paper at least. I doubt that there are 100 million kids within the site's target demographic, so it was inevitable that it get older.

    I always thought of it as a site of 20somethings, not teens, though. On the other hand, I know a myspace who was 18 when I first met her, and I thought she looked 26 then. Maybe people just grow faster nowadays ...

    "It will be interesting to monitor the shifts in Facebook's demographic composition that will undoubtedly occur as a result of the company's recent decision to open its doors to users of all ages."

    Not only that, but Facebook always allowed its visitors to continue using the site after they left college, which would have created an upward age shift no matter what they did. Opening up their population will increase that even more, but it is impossible to tell how much due to the lack of a control.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      On the other hand, I know a myspace who was 18 when I first met her, and I thought she looked 26 then.

      You mean a "person" right? Myspace isn't 18 years old. Just wanted to clear that confusion up.

      As far as differences in "social networking sites" (I hate that term as they rarely do anything of the sort) go, yes, they are all entirely different. I utilize Dodgeball [] although not for social networking (I'm fairly certain that no one uses it for that as the notification of friends of friends hasn't worked in
      • Well, that will teach me to write a comment before I'm fully awake! Thanks for the correction, yes, she was a myspace user, not myspace itself.

        I've discovered a very strange thing in developing my own social networking site (URL in signature). People want to be seen as your virtual friend without actually talking to you. I had things set up so that a friend request was just another option within an email, and so people would just click "Ask David to be my friend".

        Almost immediately, I got a barrage of qu
  • FTA: There is a misconception that social networking is the exclusive domain of teenagers, but this analysis confirms that the appeal of social networking sites is far broader.

    Of course it's not just teens. It's also all the creepy older people that need to hang out with teens. And I'm not really talking about the sexual predators, I'm just talking about the 35 year olds with tattoos and piercings clinging desperately to what's left of their diminishing youth.

    So in a way, this misconception that social networking is for teens is precisely why you get so many creepy older people there - they want to be with the teens. Ironically, now that we have stories coming out like this, the social respectability of these sites will increase and we might to see some normal adults. So the creepy adults are paving the way for broad general acceptance. Not to mention the kids who get started with social sites early and then just grow up with them.

    Does anyone else want to pull their hair out whenever the news media reports on tech with such a "golly gee willickers!" tone?

    • Not to mention the kids who get started with social sites early and then just grow up with them.

      Now this will be fascinating to watch. Older adopters of social networking sites will most likely have been embedded in real-world social networks first. Kids who use social networking sites will mature into the world with mates scattered across the globe. This brings a whole new dimension to long-term friendship, one which is both mediated by IT and marketable.
      • There are other issues as well. For the most part the concept of friendship is pretty unambiguous in meatspace. But a lot of behavior that would be considered sociopathic (e.g. theft of property) is not necessarily sociopathic on the net.

        I suppose this may end up being a non-issue as courts have started to recognize digital property as real property with real wealth, but as the EVE scams demonstrate, there are a plenty of people who engage in behavior online without shame or fear of recrimination who woul
        • My father (older generation) is pretty much incapable of learning FPS controls, or manipulating a space ship in 3d (ala Descent). I was able to get a grip on the controls, but it was hard for me. My younger brother (11 years younger) was literally flying spaceships through 3d space about as well as I could when he was 3 years old.

          Being able to play first person shooter and space/flight sims is neither a neccessary nor sufficient condition for being "comfortable" or "good" with computers....

          The creepy thing

          • Do you habitually just jump on the end of a post and pretend to make a counterpoint to a figment of your imagination, or you are just making an exception in my case? Contrary to the impression you leave with your quotation marks (watch where you sling those things!) I never argued that FPS/space shooters were either necessary or sufficient for being "'good' or 'comfortable' with computers" (note that what I put in quotes can actually be found in your post*)

            My point was simply that generations prior to ours have a hard time grasping computer concepts. I picked, purely for fun, two gaming-related examples. There are plenty others. If you've ever done any support work in your life, you've met the older men and women who want you to explain how to burn a CD and take line-by-line notes. The result? They can now burn a CD, as long as it's only the same type (e.g. data vs. music) using the exact same software on the same computer. Swap up Nero for Roxio or move the shortcuts to the burning software - and they are lost.

            The generation following ours, as far as I can tell, has taken to computers like a duck to water, as it were. Not *all* kids, of course, but by and large they figure stuff out. They blog, surf, rip, burn, etc. with some degree of competence. However this competence is only superficial. Ask a lot of these kids anything about how the technology works and you'll get a blank stare. It just works.

            So, generationally speaking, it seems as though the generations that were exposed to computers late enough in life to not take them for granted, but early enough in life to adapt may be a unique generation.

            But don't let my questions get in the way of you sounding clever by any means.


            * I don't always use quotation marks to quote people, but the only other use I think is valid is as a literary device when describing someone speaking, and when there's little chance of the quote being misunderstood (as in my reference to "golly gee willikers!" in my first post on this topic).
            • So, generationally speaking, it seems as though the generations that were exposed to computers late enough in life to not take them for granted, but early enough in life to adapt may be a unique generation.

              Fascinating point.

              The change to a totally digital world is on a par with the Gutenberg revolution. Yet, the authoritative history of the effects of the printing press was not written until the 20th century (Marshall McLuhan -- The Gutenberg Galaxy), when print began to recede with the coming of elect

            • You're not exactly correct about generational differences. I think the thing you are witnessing is the switchover from "how things used to be" (i.e. no computers) to "how all things now are" (i.e. everyone uses computers).

              Notice the flip from a no-car society to a 2 cars in every garage society. We take cars for granted, everyone learns to drive, and only some become very knowledgeable and capable mechanics, and only some can really drive well... all the rest pretend to do both, but it's obvious that they'
              • I'm not sure where you disagree with me on this. I agree that we're witnessing the switchover from "how things used to be" to "how all things are now", but this switchover was not instantaneous. It has taken about a generation. And thus the generation that watched it happen is, in some ways, very unique.

                People born in the 50s and 60s, heck all the way into the 70s were too old for the most part to catch on in the digital age. Meanwhile, anyone born in the 90s was too young. By the time they were old en
                • OK, that's a fair comment that there is this unique 10-20 yr group of people (GenX'ers and GenY'ers in popular media) that grep's the whole computer thing in a way that anyone else born before or after us doesn't. (I was born in 1976, btw) I guess I wasn't so much arguing that point as much as the thought that those who grow up with computers (post early 90's babies) will somehow have a very different experience than others. I am just viewing that paradigm as similar to previous technological advances in ou
        • My father (older generation) is pretty much incapable of learning FPS controls, or manipulating a space ship in 3d (ala Descent).
          Oh man, he's practically soylent green already.
        • The creepy thing is that no matter how adept he is at playing video games and taking them for granted he still (at 14) can't really tell the difference between a computer and a monitor. What's life going to look like when these guys are running the show? Is our generation the only one that will really understand computer internals en masse?

          Yes, unless we start training the kiddies. My boyfriend taught his 10-year old sister to mod (I assume he means video games, but he might mean computers), DOS, and emul

          • Yes, unless we start training the kiddies.

            Excellent point. I suppose when I have kiddies (first one arrives in about 8 weeks!) I'll take that route. Not right away, of course. First things first, and pooping is more important than gaming (not to mention walking and speaking).

            The trouble is that I think there probably won't be enough techies out there teaching the kiddies the ancient and revered art of actually knowing what happens inside your computer. That's not how people in my generation learned comp
            • I figure if I have kids, "puzzle time" will really be "helping mommy put in more ram" or something like that. Give them some old hardware that should really just be junked, and let them assemble it and disassemble it. I've always been into the "ooo how's that work...? *take apart, break, fix, put back together*" thing. I think kids like to do that kind of stuff too. Techies will be the only ones having 5-year-olds speaking sentences that are half-acronym and make no sense to other kids.

              I couldn't catch
              • Hahahaha... I like the idea of puzzle time. My wife wants to home school, so I imagine she'll be doing something similar. She really likes math more than computers, however, so I imagine puzzle time is going to be algebra starting when they're about 5. She's still really angry about not being allowed into advanced math classes when she was younger because she was a girl (I guess some teachers are still stupid) so if our kids are anything like her, they really will be doing algebra at that point.

                I guess t
            • So there's no hook from gaming to learning. The result? A whole generation of WoW addicts who couldn't go 1 day without touching a keyboard, but who haven't the faintest idea what's happening inside those magic boxes.

              that's is my wife in a nutshell. she was in the asheron's call beta and was one of the only female monarchs in the game. she was even interviewed by time magazine for an article on female MMORPG'ers. i opened her dell to upgrade the harddrive and she was nervous that i would break somethi

              • That's a brilliant metaphor and I think I will steal and use it myself.

                I'll try to give you credit if I get famous with it! ;-)

    • by ectal ( 949842 ) *
      35 is "older"?

      Come on! 35 is the new 25.

      At least, that's what I tell all them teenagers on myspace.
      • 35 is only "older" when it's 35-trying-to-look-like-15.

        • by ectal ( 949842 ) *
          Ha! That's a good point!
          • My wife and I are about to have our first child so I'm in no mood to start saying older people aren't young! I'm 25 now, but I'll be 35 soon enough, and 45 after that. So I'm rather heavily biased not to consider those ages "old".

            I can remember being 15. Sometimes it seems like forever ago, but other times I feel very little time has passed at all.

  • Are you suggesting that most /.ers don't also spend time hanging out at in other technical fora []? That's crazy talk.
  • Next up (Score:2, Funny)

    by wootest ( 694923 )
    Next up: Tautologies are tautologies!
  • I just can't believe that 40% of MySpace visitors are 35 years old or older, as the original article states. I'm not sure how they are measuring this, but there's all kinds of possible errors in these methods.
    • There could be errors, but that age group is as tech savvy as any other so why not?
      • There's a left-over assumption of a generation tech-divide that is becoming less and less meaningful. I'm probably from the first generation that really had that divide - home computing really came into its own as I was a child, and I picked up things pretty organically. Home computing at that time meant programming, too: over-the-counter software was limited, interfaces were command-line, etc.

        I'm beginning to think of the 10-year window that followed my childhood as a "hump" - after seeing children (even s
        • by GGardner ( 97375 )
          So, the 30-to-40 set may actually be more technologically sophisticated than the sub-30 set.

          Which is why I'd be surprised to seem the using MySpace.

        • by Firedog ( 230345 )
          I'm part of the 30-to-40 set you speak of. I started out with the Apple II and went from there.

          I think this evolution is similar to what happened with cars. 30 or 40 years ago, people commonly maintained their own cars - partly because the machines were simpler, and partly out of necessity. As a result, people had a much better understanding of what was under the hood than they do today. Nowadays, even independent mechanics can't do much more than minor maintenance without investing tens of thousands of
          • although we might still be really good drivers.

            I think a lot of older drivers would say that to be a good driver means knowing how to change the oil/brake pads etc. Lest you become a steering wheel attendant.
    • Ever hear of the concept of sampling bias, pup?
    • by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @11:02AM (#16364331) Homepage
      Easy -- They're all old guys trying to pick up young girls. My name is Chinese, but most American's think it's female. In fact, they think of this lithe ice skater. The reality is that I'm an overweight, balding, gap-toothed, Asian male nerd... but I get so many requests from 45+ year old guys pretending to be 18 and feigning interest in stuff I listed as my pastimes. E.g., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hello Kitty merchandise (my daughter loves it), sushi (tons of requests to hang out for sushi and wine, lots of wine). I have emails from dozens of dudes telling me they like walking on the beach and conversations in coffee bars. I finally relate to those millions of women who get physically ill when some dude tries some pathetic line...

      (Hmm.. Any females reading this please note how sensitive I am from the above post. If you want to get together to chat, let me know).

      • Hey Kwan...I uh, really enjoy sushi too. Why don't we hang out sometime and have some sushi I like walking on the beach talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, do you?
      • Y'know, being a pudgy white nerd in my mid-40s who actually does think that the Buffyverse was the greatest televised artistic creation in history makes for some weird moments. A while back, I injured a knee and took my physical therapy at a place that does a booming business in injured little girls, mostly teen cheerleaders and soccer players. So here I am, riding the stationary bike, doing my stretches, and constantly surrounded by drama queen, rap-talkin' little whiners. No amount of cute visuals coul
  • Well, duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @10:27AM (#16363825) Homepage Journal
    MySpace: Crappy bands and empty-headed teenage girls.

    LiveJournal: Trolls, drama queens and emo girls who are into cutting.

    Orkut: Brazilians and nobody else.

    Yahoo / Yahoo 360: Bored teenagers and creepy swingers.

    Friendster: Old people who are so behind the curve they think Windows is a pretty neat OS. The kind of people who call their web browser "the Internet" and use MSN Messenger.
    • by kkiller ( 945601 )

      The kind of people who call their web browser "the Internet" and use MSN Messenger.

      By that reckoning Friendster is populated by 20-something Brits, most of whom who have contact with the net in the last six years have an MSN messenger addy. I don't know about the US, but MSN has always been huge here.

      • I'm English, I only know one person who uses MSN, and she's American. I stand by my characterization...
        • by kkiller ( 945601 )
          I'm English and the majority of my friends, and most of my family, have MSN buddy names. But yes, friendster sucks :D
      • by Chapium ( 550445 )
        From what I've seen, its mainly been AIM and yahoo here. MSN seems to be gaining ground with its "Live" release.
    • Orkut: Brazilians and nobody else.

      That's interesting. To me, LiveJournal is Russians and little else. The share of Russians there is disproportionally large []. There is such a pulling effect when just about everyone interesting and speaking the language posts in LiveJournal. My friend list has mag editors, media pundits and prominent public figures. As a result, LJ is the place to come for all the latest buzz in Russian.
    • LiveJournal: Trolls, drama queens and emo girls who are into cutting.

      You forgot furries.

  • How else do you think the new ones will compete with the older and more popular ones?
    But obvoiusly most of them do not cut it. I think stumbleupon and grupus are two good ideas I have seen in recent times.

    sorry for the anonymous posting. in a library right now.
  • New Market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wiarumas ( 919682 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @10:30AM (#16363869)
    Hmmm.. I see nobody has tapped the 1-12 market yet. It's a potential gold mine! They are the social networkers of the future afterall!
    • by mgblst ( 80109 )
      My 9 year old neice loves posting gaudy colourful pictures that sparkle on her 5 different sites. Don't worry, the 9-year olds onwards are covered.
  • Bizarre (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is like saying that different cafes attract different kinds of people

  • things are fun.
  • A known problem. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by astellar ( 675749 )
    Every social network trying to solve one known problem - how to waste time effectively [] and efficiently. Some of them has a complite success.
  • ... bananas taste different than oranges.
  • I'm willing to bet that 5% of MySpace users are exactly "99" years old. I know from experience that almost every MySpace user under the age of 16 lies about their age on their myspace profile. I don't think this study can accurately measure a statistic that's guaranteed to be skewed by underage liars.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter