ComeScore reports this afternoon that MySpace users are suddenly a bunch of codgers. The audience researcher says more than 40 percent of the site’s unique visitors are between 35 and 54, and eleven percent are 55-plus. That means the site records roughly the same number of near-retirees as it does kids 12 to 17 (11.9 percent). Other social networking sites profiled include Xanga, Facebook and Friendster, and most reflect similar incursions of the elderly and infirm among their user bases. As you might expect, Facebook draws the largest share of its uniques (34 percent) from the 18-to-24 demo (but almost as many — 33.5 percent — come from that persistent 35- to 54-year-old set.)
Now that just sounds wrong to me, so I called ComScore for an explanation, and was given the following hypotheses: It could be that (a) people are following links to MySpace blogs from other Web sites, or (b) the popularity of MySpace for video has led a number of people to view MySpace videos off-site. These are then recorded as a visit to the network.
Or — my own preferred theory — it could be that forty million boomers all visited the site exactly once to eavesdrop on their kids and maybe see what all the hoopla is about, clicked about aimlessly for a few minutes, unable to discover or understand a thing, then closed the browser in frustration and vowed never to return.
Whatever the case may be, the only lesson I can draw from this research is that unique visitor counts often don’t tell the real story of a site’s character and usage at all.
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