A huge rise in the number of over 50s using social media sites has been uncovered by new research.

Ratings company Nielsen has found a boom in the number of silver surfers accessing Facebook and Twitter.

A study, organised with UK Online Measurement (UKOM) which looked at UK internet habits from May 2011, has shown the number of over 50-year-old women on Twitter has doubled after revelations about a major football star’s private life surfaced on the site.

The widespread coverage helped the site’s visitors jump to 6.1 million for the month.

Facebook’s membership has grown by 41% since 2009, the study said, with the majority of those new members being over 50.

James Smythe, general manager of UKOM, explained: “The growth in audience to these social networks is now primarily being driven by the 50-plus age group.

“Just a few years ago, this group may have found itself out of place on these sites.”

The figures underline the burgeoning audience on Facebook, which has more than 700 million users worldwide. It shows that social media marketing is reaching a truly wide age-range – from teenagers right through to pensioners.

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