Social media is no longer just for the young at heart

By Amy McIlwain

Financial Social Media Marketing


Social media usage is up, with more and more older users utilizing the Internet each and every day. And companies are taking advantage of this trend.

I flew from Denver to Minneapolis last week to spend some time with my family and friends that I haven’t seen in a long while. During my stay I had the pleasure of attending a family member’s graduation party. As I munched on yummy cakes and mingled with relatives that I hadn’t seen in years, I received myriad questions about my personal and professional life that I had never discussed with them before.

To my not necessarily surprised, but more satisfied and excited discovery, my aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends were all keeping up with me on Facebook. They knew about my new home, my travels and even about the movie I saw a few weeks ago.

I knew that they were online, but what I didn’t realize was how active they were in keeping up with their connections. And it’s not just my family; I’ve heard about numerous friends whose parents and even grandparents are online more than they are.

Social media is no longer just for the young at heart. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, the fastest growing demographic for Facebook and other social media are those age 50 and over.

Furthermore, social networking use among Internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled between 2009 and 2010. Even more impressive are the even higher figures for the oldest users: usage among those over the age of 65 grew 100 percent.

So what’s up with the high growth among the baby boomer generation? The top three reasons for logging on include keeping in touch with family and friends, hunting for people from their past and seeking support for chronic illnesses.

And check this out – a study from the U.K. found that 1 in 5 grandparents use social media. The study also reported that 68 percent of grandparents on social networks only joined in the last year.

So which social networks are they turning to? The numbers are hard to ignore. Social media usage is up, with more and more older users utilizing the Internet each and every day. And companies are taking advantage of this trend.

There are baby boomer networking Facebook fan pages, and Twitter members dedicated to reaching the senior market, like SeniorBiz, which boasts almost 35,000 followers. The LinkedIn group Senior Care Services Companies has over 2,500 members!

If your company’s target market is among the aging generation, it would be advantageous and monetarily rewarding to start networking and connecting online.

Create a Facebook Fan Page and reach out to those within your market. Get on Twitter and start following individuals that would find value in your content. You can even sign up for a LinkedIn account, network with fellow connections and join relevant groups where you can share your knowledge and join in the conversation.

So get your business out there and start taking advantage of the growing demographic online.