Canadian boomers flock to Facebook

October 12, 2012  |  Russ Martin  |  Comments

Summit also puts Air Miles and Justin Trudeau on-stage

Canadian boomers are flocking to Facebook. One third of the site’s Canadian users are now over 45-years old according to new data released by ComScore and Facebook at the social network’s Canadian Strategy Summit in Toronto.

Rob D’Onofrio, audience insights manager at Facebook, said increased adoption among older Canadians was the biggest change the company had seen since its last study in July 2011.

He said older Canadians are also starting to behave more like the younger cohort, increasing friend counts and using the service more often.

“After 3-6 months, the usage starts to mirror the younger demographic,” D’Onfrio said.

While the site was launched into the mainstream by its initial university- aged user base, D’Onofrio said the study confirms Facebook’s ability to reach every demographic. “Whether you want to reach a 25-year-old man or a 55-year-old woman, they’re on Facebook,” he said.

The study was presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where a group of brand marketers and agency executives met for the summit. The event also included presentations on case studies from Air Miles and Sport Chek and a discussion on social media’s role in politics between Facebook Canada president Jordan Banks and Justin Trudeau, leadership nominee for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Neil Everett, chief marketing officer for Air Miles, shared findings from a study on an Air Miles Facebook page as well as one on its own self-hosted community, which the brand is slowly shutting down. As 94% of the program’s Canadian users are on Facebook, Everett said the brand has followed the users to engage them on a site they’re already using.

Banks’ talk with Trudeau ranged from how the politician uses social media in his career to how it can influence democracy. While social media helps voters get to know politicians on a more personal level, Trudeau said it’s not the best platform for deep policy debates. He also touched on online privacy, which he said he sees as less of an issue than in other parts of the world. “Yes, there are privacy issues, but here in Canada we have a good sense of boundaries,” he said.

Trudeau noted that, in some parts of the world, governments try to separate citizens from the social web, but said he does not believe in that approach. “The internet is uncontrollable,” he said. “Therefore, keeping as much of a separation between citizens and their social web, and government and the way it’s done, is a very safe thing to do, but I think it’s fundamentally wrong. I think the future of our democracy, of our civilization, will go by understanding how important every single individual is.”

When asked about Barack Obama’s now famous social media strategy, Trudeau said his party studied the Democrat’s 2008 campaign but noted that he does not think Obama has done as good of a job of using social media to mobilize citizens to help him govern as he did getting them out to vote.

When Banks asked if he’s more of a Facebook or Twitter guy, Trudeau admitted he’s “a little more Twitter. You can’t get on and off Facebook in 20 minutes, and I just don’t have that time.”

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