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Curious about the role social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can play in your Boomer marketing programs?  When deciding where to budget your dollars and effort to reach mature consumers, consider the research/statistics.  Also, consider the similarities between the offline and online behavior of Baby Boomers and beyond. 

“Businesses and mature consumers often approach challenges and decision-making in a similar fashion – cautiously,” we wrote in our summer newsletter.  As Creating Results works with clients on comprehensive internet marketing strategies, we recommend acting like the Boomers and Silent Generation members we target:  go slowly and be choosy.

Over the next few posts, we’ll be sharing stats on how Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and/or niche sites are used by mature (40+) consumers, along with some generational marketing insights to help your organization reach its goals. 

PART 1:  SOCIAL NETWORKING USE BY GENERATION 

eMarketer statistics identify which social networking sites are used by Baby Boomers, WWII, and Generations X, Y and Z:

Networking Sites Used in US by Generation.eMarketer 

(Where are the Silents? Anderson Analytics either lumped the roughly 59 million people born between 1925 and 1942 in with the WWII generation or this cohort is very, very quiet indeed.)

The reasons for joining a social network are quite similar across the generations, per eMarketer:

“Sizable percentages of every age group wanted to keep in touch with friends, have fun or stay in contact with family, or had been invited by someone they knew. The youngest users were most likely to be interested in fun and friends, while family contact appealed more to older social networkers.”

Gen X and Boomers were most likely to use social media for job searching, keeping in touch with their business networks or trying to develop/sell business.  (No  surprise to our team.  That’s in keeping with their lifestage.)  True “silver surfers” of the WWII generation were all about family ties, per eMarketer data.

At Creating Results, our theory is that how seniors buy into social media can be related to how they buy in general: 

  • they find out everything they can about this new lifestyle option, through research, demos and trials (David Wolfe’s Ageless Marketing includes research on the effectiveness of new product and new brand trials with 50+ers)
  • they trust in referrals from friends – 60% of WWI respondents joined a social network because of an invitation from someone they knew
  • most will wait a little while to be sure it’s not a fad or a bad value
  • they learn the rules of the game, try to understand how the group will function (remember, Boomers especially have been part of large groups from the moment they hit the playground or school)
  • they make sure it’s relevant to them
  • THEN, they decide to commit

Should/can marketers connect the dots between the social engagement of older internet users and their “real world” approach to new purchases?  Tell us what you think.

 In Part II, read about about Twittter use and the older generations.  Later this week, we’ll explore the way Baby Boomers and Silent (Ike) Generation members use Facebook, LinkedIn and niche sites such as Eons, Boomj and Teebeedee (RIP).

About The Author

Erin Read

Erin Read spearheads integrated and digital marketing programs for organizations targeting mature consumers. She writes, researches and speaks about marketing to baby boomers and seniors. Erin has addressed local, regional, international conferences on generational marketing. She is the co-author of three national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish; Social, Silver Surfers 2010 & 2013) and the principal blogger for Mature Marketing Matters.

  • http://www.VibrantNation.com Carol Orsborn

    Of course marketers should absolutely connect the dots. We have original research that reiterates that Boomers and beyond require multiple coordinated on and off-line approaches that will influence their purchasing behavior. Please note that there are two categories of social networks (maybe more…) Facebook is primarily used to stay connected to family/friends/associates. Sites such as Grandparents.com and VibrantNation.com, peer-to-peer information-sharing for bright women 50+, are niches within the segment, focusing on individuals who are sharing life-stage experiences and may include personal friends, but really go more in the direction of trusted but anonymous conversations. There’s a place for both types, but many are finding the life stage sites to be useful ways to get the ball rolling with influencers.

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  • http://carenetworks.com Brian Geyser

    We have started a special blog series called Social Media Success, which features interviews with senior living and eldercare service providers around the country who are using social media as a business/marketing tool and who are willing to share their stories.

    While more and more of these organizations are beginning to discover the wonders of social media every day, it’s amazing how many are still in the dark. You can follow these insightful interviews at http://carenetworks.com/blog. Thanks for the great work you do!

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