Seniors and social media: The up and coming social savvies

By Amy McIlwain

Financial Social Media Marketing


Several months ago, I took an excursion across the country to visit my grandparents at a senior living home in Florida. Due to my unique area of expertise, a certain buzz loomed that a “social media expert” was coming. Upon my arrival, the vibrant community of seniors and boomers were visibly excited and adamant to learn about these new technologies. Given their interest, I put on short social media workshop to show them the ropes. As I presented information about Skype, Facebook and Twitter, their eyes beamed with enthusiasm to learn about these cutting edge technologies.

After the presentation, the group of men and women asked questions and hopped online to test the waters. The energy and excitement I felt in this community is a microcosm of how seniors are interacting with social technologies throughout the world. As social media integrates more deeply into the fabric of our culture, the participation of seniors and boomers is skyrocketing.

According to 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 percent, from 13 percent in 2009 to 33 percent in 2011

  • Half of adults ages 65 and older are online
An interesting article in Senior Market Advisor listed 10 reasons boomers need to be in your social media plans:
  • According to Census data, the over-50 crowd will grow 21 percent in size in 10 years. The 18–49 age cohort will remain the same size.

  • They buy things; lots of things. Overall, the over-50 crowd outspends the under-50 crowd by $400 billion. That’s more than Walmart sells annually.

  • They try new things. Boomers were raised in front of the TV and they listen to the radio. They are easier to target than younger generations.

  • With a median age of 54, boomers are far from being done. They think they are in the middle of the middle age. They don’t think they will reach old age until age 75 or so. You have plenty of years of strong renewal income.

  • They use the Internet. They search, they shop and they buy. There may not be as many of them on social networking sites, but they are online — just as many and just as often as younger generations.

  • Some 40 percent of all boomers are already grandparents. Over 55 percent of all grandparents alive today are boomers. They love to connect with them on social media.

  • They control their parents’ consumption of health care and kids’ education. They are a sandwich generation that likes being in the center of it all. Think “ham.” They like to influence everyone — family, friends, Facebook buddies

  • They like advertising. Sure, they’re skeptical , but they are also fans of good advertising. They will respond to your effort if it speaks to them.

  • They are the future. “Old” is where the action is for the next 20 years and boomers are the new old. New products, businesses and industries will cater to the new old.