Older users bored of social networks

Michael Carroll
16 Aug 2011

Social networks must seek out new customers and innovate applications to maintain their meteoric growth rates, as fresh evidence of technology fatigue emerges.

A Gartner survey of 6,295 consumers in 11 global markets reveals that 24% are using their favorite social media site less than when they first signed up. While that trend is more prevalent among older users, the research firm found that 31% of young, mobile-savvy, consumers are also getting bored with their social network, suggesting that early adopter’s interest in the sites is waning.

“Branded content needs to be kept fresh and must be able to capture people’s attention instantly,” research director Brian Blau comments. “The new generation of consumers is restless and short on attention span, and a lot of creativity is needed to make a meaningful impact.”

A third of consumers using their favorite site less are doing so due to concerns over online privacy. Principal analyst Charlotte Patrick notes the worries make it essential that social networks tread carefully when it comes to opt-in services, however the doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to innovate. “Lessons should be learned from the likes of Facebook as they test the boundaries of consumer tolerance in search of more revenue,” she states.

The research comes hot on the heels of a study by the UK’s University of Cambridge, which revealed one in three consumers feel the need to escape from social networking and messaging services. Consumers often feel overwhelmed by the mass of communication options available, resulting in 42% stating they are actively cutting back on their use of social networks.

However, Gartner’s figures suggest that trend is more prevalent among older users, with Patrick noting that “…teenagers and those in their twenties were significantly more likely to say that they had increased their usage,” of social networks.

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