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Social Media & Seniors - The Rules Are Changing

First off, let's get one thing out of the way right now: I abhor the term "Senior" in the context of someone over the age of 65. I realize it is a tried, true and accepted term but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

A senior is someone in their last year of high school or college, or someone who has achieved a senior status i.e. Senior Copywriter, etc., but not someone who just happens to be of a certain age. Image

Anyway, I wanted to share some interesting findings courtesy of the Pew Internet & American Life Project:

  • One in three online seniors uses social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn
  • From April 2009 to May 2011, social networking site use among internet users ages 65 and older grew 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011 
  • Half of adults ages 65 and older are online

These are all very telling numbers for sure. 

If this age group, 65+ is in your target demo it may be time to revisit your strategy for if you're not including an online/social/digital aspect to your overall strategy you could very well be missing a wealth of opportnities.

Lower the "Boom"

Now before you start running off at the mouth with "But Steve, unless you're selling medicare health insurance, funeral plots or Efferdent, why would anyone have 65+ in their target demo?" I have two things to say.

1. You're an idiot.

2. You're a huge idiot. 

In case you haven't noticed people are living a lot longer than they used to and while this doesn't necessarily translate into more disposable income as someone gets older, it does mean you should at the very least consider the fact that more and more 65+ folks are online and using social media just like a lot of others who are younger. 

The other factor in all of this are the Baby Boomers. 

Last year the first of the Boomers turned 65 and given what we know about Boomers and how much net worth they have - they control 70% of the total net worth of American households – $7 trillion of wealth, it's probably a good idea for marketers and advertisers to look at those in the 65, 66 demo a little different - let alone ALL those in the 65+ group.

So, to recap... you have more and more 65+ people in general using social media and going online than ever before plus you have the initial influx of Baby Boomers who are surely going to be even more active online and socially then those slightly older. 

If you're a marketer or advertiser, are you targeting 65+?

Are you targeting Baby Boomers?

Will any of the above info change the way you look at your marketing and advertising strategies?

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review, Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,TwitterLinkedIn or his website.

Join The Conversation

  • Jul 17 Posted 5 years ago boomernewsnet@g...

    Great article, in fact I've created a t-shirt that says "Haven't been called 'senior" since high school!" Marketers are clearly underestimating the spending power and interests of our demographic. We buy 3 out of 5 new cars. We spend money on kids and grandkids, travel, health, skin care, gadgets.... We are still working, or starting encore businesses. We want to look good, feel good, do good, age in place or all over the place.  Please no more ads for Medicare supplements and bone density pills!


  • Jun 28 Posted 5 years ago Deborah Latham-White

    I am so glad that we are finally being recognized as an internet/social media group of note!


    The very first social networking site that I joined was Eons. Interacting on that site made me aware of the fact that were adults over seventy who were already connected.  I've been a member for a few years now and I think that people would be surprised at how older adults interact socially on line. 



  • RainMakerMaker's picture
    Jun 27 Posted 5 years ago RainMakerMaker

    They're also remaining in the work force longer. Not only because they want to supplement their retirement income, but also because they can. Today's seniors are healthier and more vital than past generations and although they may want more leisure time, they enjoy working and when they combine their 'old skills' with new technology, they are formidable. Here's another Social Media Today article on the topic.

  • Jun 26 Posted 5 years ago Debora Chalmers

    Great information to know. I'm going to volunteer at the local "Senior Center" to teach what I know about social networking. But I too, have so much more to learn. I'm just beginning to feel comfortable on a few of the available sites. And I've started blogging about this aging process for all of us baby boomers, so learning how to reach my audience is invaluable!



    If you are interested in one person's perspective on this journey:  www.theagingventure.com

  • Jun 26 Posted 5 years ago neomiB

    The Pew Internet and American Life Project just released a study, showing that more senior citizens, 65 and older, are now linking to the Internet in larger figures. More than half now go online, the study says, increasing the number of individuals participating in e-commerce. More than half of seniors are now online. While email is noted as being the most popular activity of older adults online, Facebook is also seeing a growth in numbers from this age group. Much of the draw to Facebook may be its simplicity for sharing photos, direct communication between users, and real time status updates. While streamlining these activities, older adults are given more of an opportunity to quickly interact with their peers across the country.

  • Jun 26 Posted 5 years ago Claude @ md mar...

    Hi Steve!

    Great article, actually we are using adwords to sell a financial product aimed for over 65. It is surprising how many Grandpas & Grandmas are using google to find things, specially content network and a little bit less effective is search.


    Nice to read you, thanks for sharing.



    Claude @md marketing digital Argentina

    If you wish to read some news about Digital Marketing in Spanish, pay us a visit at www.mdmarketingdigital.com/blog


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