Is Social Media Now Mainstream?

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Yesterday, this Mashable post from Jolie O’Dell included some statistics about baby boomers ages 50 to 64 (and older) flocking to Facebook. Jolie’s statistics are from a study conducted by the AARP.

While I do realize that statistics can be manipulated, misinterpreted, and otherwise misunderstood–the statistics in Jolie’s post echo my own experience. Recently, many of my older relatives and family friends have found and “friended” me on Facebook.

The first time it happened (somebody over seventy years old sent me a friend request) I actually wondered if the friend request was legit, or if someone had stolen the senior’s identity. It turns out the request was legitimate and it has not been the last such request.

It turns out that even the U.S. Government has noticed the trend towards silver-headed Internet users. On a blog designed for small businesses, Small Business Matters, CaronBeesley quotes a report from Kinesis, which states that over 60 percent of baby boomers use blogs, podcasts, videos, and forums.

In fact, many seniors have set up their own blogs. Check out the following blogs, which are all maintained by bloggers over seventy years of age:

  • wegads — Ed Weiland’s Blog
  • My Mom’s Blog, from Millie Garfield
  • Not Dead Yet, from Judith Taylor
  • BobWrites, from Robert Shinberg
  • Me and The Cat, from Lorraine O’Connor
  • A Little Red Hen, from Naomi Dagen Bloom

As you can see, not only are seniors blogging, they are doing it actively. These are just a few of the many senior bloggers who can be found online. (Note: you can find your own senior blog links at the Ageless Project, which tracks personal blogs by date of birth.)

What does all this mean?

I think it means that social media is going mainstream–much the way that television did several generations ago. Put another way–if seniors are using social media, then who is left who is not?

If your agency is targeting a demographic over 50, you shouldn’t ignore social media. While it was once thought that older generations were not active online, the most recent information shows that many of those in the baby boom generation and even those who are older are increasingly comfortable with social media.

Ignoring social media when promoting products geared towards baby boomers or older seniors is a mistake. If the trends cited in this post are true, it could be a very costly mistake.

Does your agency market products to seniors? Do you use Internet marketing and/or social media? Why, or why not?

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for your thoughtful response Erin,

    That’s a good post that you’ve got there. Thanks for the link. :-)

    I agree that it’s only 27% now–but, that’s significantly higher than say, five years ago. Personally, I only expect the usage to increase.

    It looks like your agency is on track to reach those online boomers…

  2. Erin Read Ruddick says

    Laura, thanks for the run-down of 70+ bloggers and the link to the Ageless Project – very useful!

    To answer your question … As an agency that specializes in helping companies market to Boomers and beyond, Creating Results agrees that ignoring social media is a mistake.

    So we work with clients to stake-out their spots on the social web and to take advantage of social media tools.

    We also keep it in perspective. Recent AARP research found that 27% of 50+ Americans are active in social networks. That means that 73% don’t yet see the value of Facebook, etc. So Creating Results tries to be strategic with investments of time and money into social media marketing for seniors.

    You/your readers might be interested in this case study, on how social media techniques were worked into a new continuing care retirement community website: http://bit.ly/dsmK3z.

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