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Using social media as part of your marketing program? Most likely you are. May 2011 research from Brian Solis revealed that two-thirds of marketers are conducting social media advertising activities. More and more retirement communities and other organizations targeting baby boomers and seniors are jumping on the social media bandwagon each day.

What doesn’t seem to vary is the struggle to act on or measure what your brand gains from social media. As eMarketer notes:

From the early days of the internet, the prospect of detailed metrics fueled the promise that online advertising could yield unprecedented insights about customer preferences and behavior. That promise has only partially materialized. True, online channels provide feedback that offline media cannot, but marketers are still grappling with how to make this input work toward the bottom line.

From my presentation to the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) last week, here are tools and tips that can help marketers spot and make sense of customer preferences and behavior.

We’ve focused on resources that are built-in or free, and are accessible to organizations like our clients – continuing care retirement communities, estate planners and 50+ housing developers with a lot of heart but little budgets.

Free Social Media Tools You Should Be Using


* Facebook Insights: built-in and free, this tool helps you analyze your brand’s page metrics.

– Find out which messages hit (and which miss) their mature marks through “people talking about” and noting which posts attract the most engagement.

– Demographics and locations reported by Facebook also offer (free) insights. We discovered one client’s site was attracting more adult children than prospects themselves. And for another, we found that Friends were quirkier than we thought – one report showed a healthy portion of fans used Facebook with the language set to Pirate. Now our posts contain more humor and get more engagement than before.

* Facebook search: type your brand name into the search bar and then, on the results page, click on Public Posts. As Search Engine Journal put it, “what you’re left with is real time results for wall posts from all (public) profiles or pages on Facebook!”


* TwitterCounter: track follower growth – yours or a competitor’s – for free on a weekly or monthly basis. Upgrade and you can see who is retweeting or sharing your tweets.

* Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Argyle Social, TweetAdder and Co-Tweet are tools for managing your Twitter account. All offer varying degrees of monitoring as well. Our personal favorite is HootSuite. You can track clicks and shares, and set up searches for key phrases (your brand name, your brand plus words such as LIKE, LOVE or HATE). Reports can even be exported and shared, a time-saving feature for smaller organizations.

* Twilert: Baby boomer blogger Linda Bernstein swears by this service, which delivers a regular email update with tweets containing keywords related to your brand, product or service.

3. LINKEDIN:Statistics on Groups in LinkedIn give insights for marketing to baby boomers, seniors

* Company page Analytics: see at a glance the interest your brand is generating and what kind of traffic, segmented by industry or other selects.

* Group Statistics: visualize your group members by seniority, function, location and industry.


* There are a number of paid social media monitoring services out there, including Trackur, Radian6, sysomos, Nielsen BuzzMetrics and Alterian. You might first want to read a few comparisons (like this one from FreshMinds) to see what the strengths of each system is.

* A FREE and easy tool is Social Mention: Per MarketingSherpa’s Adam Sutton,

“… more than 80% of marketers say measuring brand sentiment is important, yet fewer than half actually track it. You can start gauging sentiment today by spending two minutes playing with Social Mention.

This fantastically simple and free tool provides a stunning amount of data, including a sentiment analysis of your online mentions. You can even click “positive” and “negative” to see a list of results used to generate your score. How cool is that?”

Very cool indeed.


What tool do you feel is cool for marketers focused on baby boomers and seniors? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



  • *Part 1: Following the True Leaders: Your Boomer and Senior Customers
  • * 41 Percent of Americans are on Facebook (and 98% have at least one TV set)
  • * Social Networking Habits of Baby Boomers and Beyond
  • About The Author

    Todd Harff

    Insights from agency Founder Todd Harff have been shared in Brand Week, Ad Age, Marketing Charts, The Wall Street Journal, The Journal on Active Aging, 50+ Magazine, and Selling to Seniors and from podiums at international conferences. He is the co-author of three national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish; Social, Silver Surfers 2010 & 2013). Todd also developed programs on marketing to Baby Boomers and seniors for George Mason University, Lasell College/ E.L.D.E.R. and NAHB’s University of Housing.