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The question crops up regularly on LinkedIn Groups: “What is the best way to reach baby boomer and senior home buyers? Is social media the new priority?” Creating Results’ own Beth Rand will help address that question today at the International Builders’ Show, during her presentation “Marketing to the 50+ Buyer: Social Media and Much More.”

As experienced real estate marketers know, social media may be today’s buzzword in marketing but it takes more than a Facebook page or a blog to reach your 50+ prospects. Since many of us are not enjoying Orlando’s sunshine this week (yes, I’m jealous), we wanted to share some key points from Beth’s presentation.

Statistics: Use of the Internet, Social Media by Baby Boomers and Seniors

* The #1 Internet activity for members of the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation or the Baby Boom is email.

* The use of social networks by adults of all ages is on the rise. The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports 51% of baby boomers aged 50 to 64 and 33% of seniors over the age of 65 are now using social networking sites.

* In our study, we found that 70% of those over 40 years old were using social networks at least a little. The youngest cohort (Gen X and Gen Jones boomers aged 40-54) were the most likely to be involved; the majority of those over 65 had never tried an online social network or had not stuck with it.

Why Do 50+ Home Buyers Use Social Networking (or why not)?

* Connections rooted in the offline world are the #1 reason why older homebuyers try online social networking, we found in our study of Social, Silver Surfers.

* Reasons often align with lifestage. 40-54 year olds are most motivated by work/career. The Silent Generation and 75+ers by invitations from family members.

* Real estate marketers putting all their eggs in the social media marketing basket should be wary. Our survey found only 15 % of all 40+ers actively engaged in social networks would say “Yes, I want to engage with a brand on these platforms.”

* Older users willing to engage saw three benefits to friending brands: discounts, a convenient channel for information and a feeling of insider access. Those who said no or maybe not cited a preference for communications by other channels (phone, corporate website) or face-to-face, a feeling of being overwhelmed by marketing, and a feeling that brands were intruding on their personal space.

How do Baby Boomers Engage on Social Media?

* Social sharing tools ranging from email-a-friend “widgets” to YouTube to message boards are common ways that baby boomers engage.

* The older the respondent, the more likely they were to consider email itself a social tool.

* Retirees cited email as a social tool at 8x the rate of those who were employed full- or part-time; 3x as many singles saw it as social than did couples.

How Can Builders and Developers of 50+ Housing Apply This to their Marketing?

Beth offers 5 ways to for real estate marketers to kick social media engagement into high gear with baby boomers and beyond:

5. Provide clear and simple privacy policies.

4. Make it personal. Show your appreciation.

3. Incorporate tools that make it easy to share experiences.

2. Talk with your friends/fans/followers, not at them.

1. Expand your horizons! Social media is far more than Facebook or Twitter.

Are you a marketer using using social media to sell 50+ housing? Share your insights on what works/what doesn’t below.

RELATED POST: Stop Hunting for Active Adult Home Buyers. Start Gathering.

About The Author

Erin Read

For nearly 13 years, Erin Read spearheaded integrated and digital marketing programs for Creating Results' clients. She directed and co-authored four national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish and three editions of Social, Silver Surfers) and served as the principal blogger for Mature Marketing Matters. Now a consultant to the agency, Erin is leveraging her expertise in marketing to baby boomers and seniors while tackling new challenges. Find her on LinkedIn .