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Why Facebook and Twitter are aging gratefully

Does the rapid age growth of the Facebook and Twitter population mean that the social-networking sites will actually be trying to run more traditional advertising?

Facebook and Twitter users have wrinkles, torn hamstrings, and many, many fillings. And increasingly, they're beginning to complain about chillblains, varicose veins, and the Social Security system.

In just the last two months, the number of Facebook members over 35 has doubled. And the biggest demographic grouping isn't 12 to 18. It's 35 to 44.

ComScore also reported this week that 10 percent of Twitter users are between 55 and 64. That's the same percentage as are between 18 and 24. In fact, the majority of Twitter users are 35 or older.

And here's Reuters telling us that 18- to 24-year-olds are 12 percent less likely than average to visit Twitter.

This might mean that young people are groping their way back to some sort of physical bonding experiences while older people, perhaps thinking that they are younger people, are diving into social networking like large Chicagoans on their first trip to a Kaua'i beach.

I have a secret suspicion--which is, I suppose, not so secret now--that the owners of Facebook and Twitter have been waiting for the wrinklies to salt-and-pepper their world.

Advertising to the young, the belligerent, the ornery-for-the-sake-of-it is desperately tiresome.

"I twitter because I'm...I'm.. oh, I forget why." CC Arteunporro/Flickr

They whine about their aversion to brand messaging. They're so darned fickle. They protest when you change your page design to be, frankly, more commercial. And what do they give you in return? Well, more whining, more dissatisfaction, more pain in the parts most in contact with your bean bag.

However, older folks have been around. They know that the world's social currency is money.

They accept that money prefers not to listen if it can help it. Money declaims. It pronounces. And, if you behave, it confers favors on you. Like cars. And lovers. And returns on investment.

Money's price is a simple one. It asks you to tolerate ads whenever and wherever you have your eyes open. Because ads make media go round. Media make money go round. And money makes the world go round.

For all Facebook's protestations that it will find new, exciting, dynamic, active ways for advertisers to plug their wares, it needs to find an audience sufficiently compliant to any kind of messaging.

It needs to find a coalition of the willing, commercially speaking. The older you are, the more likely you are to coalesce with greater consistency and in larger numbers.

Of course, Facebook and Twitter will try to find more exciting ways to turn an advertising dollar, because that will make for more interesting presentations to the desperate and gullible vodka gulpers that are media buyers.

But in their backrooms and boardrooms, they'll be whistling tunes from the "Sound of Music," if they can find a way to give advertisers something that they recognize as traditional, monetizable advertising.

Money's tight these days. Just like Botoxed foreheads.