Last month Forrester released an updated Social Technographics survey report which shows a striking increase in social media adoption citing that ¾ of online adults use social networks/tools to connect. I guess it wasn’t a coincidence that I’d been feeling an increase in Facebook activity amongst my hometown friends as 35-44 year old “joiners” across social technologies jumped 11% since last year.
Going back to the town one grew up in is always a bit poignant – this Thanksgiving, I was secretly pleased at how much Facebook was THE de facto center of discussion during various informal reunions with my hometown friends (and acquaintances), and family. I was amazed enough to learn that my older brother and his friends are active on the social network but literally floored when parents of our friends were asking each other if they’re on Facebook – these are people in their 60s, which, in using Forrester’s Groundswell social technology profile tool, shows that 11% of 55+ year old online adults are considered joiners (up from 6% last year).
This makes sense to me, though, as I commented last month on Jeremiah Owyang’s “Your Online Reunion” blog post: “I’ve noticed a lot of my high school & college buddies (who seem to be joining Facebook in droves) are also getting their parents to join as a way to stay connected and up-to-date within the family. In some ways, my mom’s generation is having to severely depart from their “communications comfort zone” and adapt to the inevitable ways their kids (and grandkids) are communicating or else risk feeling out of the loop.”
The act of “joining” definitely happens virally/through word-of-mouth. There were a couple of our friends who weren’t on Facebook prior to meeting up with us over Thanksgiving. That changed the next day after watching/hearing us talk over dinner about our virtual connection to one another. I would love to find data on this, but I’m willing to bet that Facebook membership spiked in the few days following Thanksgiving -- Afterall, peer pressure didn’t just work in high school.
In testing how quickly joining spreads, this morning I created a facebook group for my highschool class. In a couple years we’ll be celebrating our 20 year reunion so I thought it’d be cool to help start re-connecting us all. I sent the invite to join the group to a few of my fellow “Blue Knights” I’m friends with on Facebook and within a couple hours the invite list grew, virally, to over 70 people. I wonder how many of the 450+ in our class we can get to join? Since not everyone participates in social networks, if the Forrester data holds true, we should get about 150 (33% of 450).
In the end, the tried and true fact of human nature that people want and need to feel connected will continue to rapidly grow social media adoption and change the way we all communicate – I wonder what we’ll be talking about next Thanksgiving?