In late 2010, the Pew Research Center published a fascinating study revealing some of the online activities and trends among different age groups within the United States titled the Generations – 2010 report. Only the second annual report issued by Pew to examine online behavior, it displays the increasing desire to try to understand how we use the internet as a society, and where we?re going in the near future.

Some of the data was fairly obvious, such as the fact that younger age groups are far more likely to use a social networking site. However, one surprising trend revealed that older generations such as “Young Boomers” (ages 46-55) and also “Older Boomers” (ages 56-64) saw a higher percentage increase in their social media usage than the “Millennials” (18-33) and “Gen X” (34-45). This probably indicates that while the younger generations are far heavier users, they are traditionally quicker to latch onto new trends, thus meaning that the older generations are only now beginning to become more accepting of the role social media networks now have in our daily lives.

Pew Generations: Online Trends

As the data indicates, perhaps your parents are hipper than you thought. And from a social media marketing perspective, this data represents positive news indeed. It was already generally understood that Facebook could reach the Millenial and pre-Millenial generations in profound ways, but now it seems that their parents and grandparents are beginning to message, post, and network right alongside them – and perhaps opening up to its marketing campaigns therein.

We need not point out that the so-called ‘Millenial’ generation is also that traditional demographic long coveted by advertising and marketing experts. And along with their frequent use of Facebook and other social media, they use search engines even more so. More staggering still, is that all demographics are now using search engines in their daily lives on an unprecedented level.

Pew Generations: Summary of Online Activities

For all adults (ages 18+), search engine use is 87%, and among Millennials, it’s 92%.  There was no data on the under 18 demographic, but one could reasonably surmise that when they come of age, search engine usage will be (if it isn’t already) close to 100% within their age group. Taking this all into account, the Generations – 2010 Report from Pew clearly displays the importance of using search engine and social media marketing as a focal point for any organization looking to increase both its exposure and its overall success moving forward.