Dramatic climb in prosperous users on social networks

So, is your image of social network users a penniless, unshaven college student still bleary from finishing their mid-terms the day before?  Think again. While there may have been some truth to that stereotype in the past, today you’re far more likely to find prosperous consumers with a hunger for the nicer things in life, according to new research by The Luxury Institute, a research house which studies luxury consumption.  People with annual household incomes of $100,000 or above are a growing part of the Internet population as a whole, and a particularly large subset of the social networking world.

Between January 2007 and January 2008, in fact, the number of affluent social networking users shot up from 27 percent to 60 percent. These users aren’t just breezing through, either. Luxury Institute researchers found that affluent users belong to about three networks each, and have about 110 online connections.

In some ways, the explosion of well-to-do social networkers is great for marketers, but pitching this sector can easily backfire, too, according to Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. While less-established, less-properous users eventually forgave Facebook when it marketing system, Beacon, was perceived to violate user privacy, the affluent won’t let social networks off that easily, Pedraza warns. When it comes to prosperous users, soft selling that invites connections (rather than pushes through unwanted e-mail, for example), is an absolute necessity.

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