Sign up to our Newsletter
So here goes...as the hair goes a shade greyer - which I largely blame on the trauma associated with parenting and another year is notched up on the belt buckle of life...I noticed that the birthday cake now has candles which represent decades rather than years...yep, I am dwelling on age...and in particular the way that age relates to content consumption.
The thought was sparked by a chance conversation about the giving and receiving of books at Chrimbo with a mate in a mobile agency - my angle was that people still love the tangibility of a printed book or magazine - his view was that for some generations it would be, but amongst the young a plastic card loaded with 49p downloads was significantly more attractive.
So the question this lead to was, how do we map content consumption amongst different generations and forecast what the appetite is for online versus printed content? Is the answer to this in anyway reflected in our passionate affair with social media?
At the risk of pursuing a bit of a tangent, I attended a content seminar recently at which someone remarked that Lady Gaga's mobile content strategist is well into his 70's - whilst in itself this should not raise an eyebrow - it kind of does though, probably because we are conditioned to think it unusual that someone of this seniority could possibly understand 21st century tech well enough to create distribution strategy for a global teenage audience...but hold on there, Facebook has 19m 65+ members and they were one of the biggest growth groups (+52%) last year...At the other end of the scale I have been wrestling with the ethics around access to Facebook for my 12 year old...herself an expert in the fine art of badgering, until she achieves the desired result.
In a battle of wits I capitulated (again) and allowed 20 minutes of daily underage access to on the basis that (and it's a compelling argument) A. Dad's on it all the time; B. All my school friends are on it; C. I am missing out on stuff; and D. As half the UK's population is on it so it's the cheapest form of mass communication in the country... after much humming, hawing and research with other parents we decided it would be ok on the condition that disco Dad was to be a friend and that her settings were locked down tight...so after 6 months of attritional begging and 3 subsequent days of membership I hear - " it's really boring, nothing happens" - hurrah we don't have an addict...
But do FB demographics tell us something about how different generations engage with social content? There 800 million + users now and with 200m aged 25-34 and 200m aged 35-64 it's certainly no teenage play pit, FB grew by 37% last year 30m in the UK with biggest growth age 16 and 65+.
Now that in itself doesn't tell us whether we prefer to digest content online or in print, what it does suggest we are all becoming Screenagers and failing to recognise this is not driven by age bands in the balance of how we plan and distribute our content would be a real mistake...