Social media bridges the age gap

By Amy McIlwain

Financial Social Media Marketing


Why is social media becoming such a popular marketing tool? Because the once large generation gap between young adults and older adults who use social media is quickly closing.

Social networking use among Internet users ages 50- 64 grew by 88 percent — from 25 percent to 47 percent — between April 2009 and May 2010. The exponential growth of social media users across all ages has swung the doors wide open for marketers. As the online market grows and diversifies, and businesses recognize social media as an advanced and innovative marketing vehicle, more companies are hopping on the social media bandwagon.

If businesses refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM), allowing the creation and exchange of user-generated content, then the giant melting pot of users that utilize social networking sites are a direct target for marketers.

Social media allows users the ability to connect, build, create, innovate, shape and change the way we communicate. This allows marketers to do the same with their marketing techniques and campaigns.

While the younger generation still leads the age groups in Internet and social media use, the older generations are discovering a world where they can complete myriad activities from their computer. Even though seniors still rely on e-mail as their main form of online communication, they are quickly finding out that social networking sites allow them to reconnect with people from the past, find support communities, or connect with younger generations — all of which are driving social network site use among older generations.

Here are some other interesting social media generation facts:
  • More than half (51 percent) of all online adults listen to music online — up from 32 percent in 2004
  • Use of social sites by the so-called GI generation (ages 74 and older) has quadrupled since 2008 to 16 percent — the steepest rise of any group
  • One in five (20 percent) online adults ages 50- 64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10 percent one year ago
  • Among adults ages 65 and older, 13 percent log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4 percent who did so in 2009
  • Just 5 percent of users ages 50- 64 had used Twitter or another status update service in 2009, and 11 percent now say they use these tools
  • On a typical day, 6 percent of online adults ages 50- 64 make Twitter a part of their routine, up from the 1 percent who did so in 2009
Social media is bridging the generational gaps. There are few other spaces — online or offline — where tweens, teens, sandwich generation members, grandparents, friends and neighbors regularly intersect and communicate across the same network. This is why social media has become such a sought-after marketing technique for all different types of companies and businesses, from financial institutions to restaurant organizations to real estate investors.

Social media is not a fad. It is not a craze that will eventually fade once the perception of its value depletes — its value will not deplete. It will grow in worth and utility and remain a fundamental way to communicate.

Social media is still maturing, and will continue to develop and extend into all generations. Give your business the edge and take advantage of the advanced marketing opportunities that social media gives you and your business.