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Facebook is changing the way Canadians communicate

Canadians of all ages are flocking to social media giant Facebook, according to a new study by Ottawa-based market research firm, Abacus Data.  Figures collected during December 2010 suggest that nearly three-quarters of Canadians maintain accounts with Facebook.  While that figure on its own may not be surprising, the breakdown of users may be unexpected for some.

“It’s very common to hear of a generational gap in social media use, but these results show that that gap is more of a gradient – the real gap is in how the different generations use social media” said Alex Monk, a strategist at Abacus Data and author of the report.

According to the Abacus Data results, just over 60% of those over 60 years old identify themselves as Facebook users.  Usage increases gradually as age decreases: nearly 70% of 45-59 year olds, nearly 80% of 30-44 year olds, and 91% of millennials (those aged 18-29) have a Facebook account.

“Membership is one thing, but the critical data is how people use their Facebook accounts”, Monk said.  To answer this question, Abacus Data asked respondents how they were most likely to hear about a noteworthy event within their circle of friends.

“The interesting element of these results is the way we millennials have integrated Facebook into our daily lives”, said Monk.  “Nearly half of millennials first hear about noteworthy events within their social circles via Facebook, while only 13% hear by phone and 8% by email.  That’s what makes the millennial generation so different from the others”.

The observed difference in behaviour is not just a function of age, but of fundamental differences between generations, according to Dr. David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.

“The prevalence of email use and Facebook membership among older generations suggests that they are active on the internet; they communicate and share information via email.  Real penetration of Facebook as a means of relaying meaningful information within a social circle, and for marketers, however, still seems to rest with millennials”

Abacus Data specializes in helping its clients to connect with and understand millennials.  Find out more about our millennial research practice here.

Read the full detailed report.