Corporate Eye

The Social Web is Not Lost on Baby Boomers

A recent study by The NPD Group out of New York reports that 41% of baby boomers (people ages 44-61) have visited social networks such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn, and a full 61% have been to websites that offer streaming or downloadable video. 

Over the three months prior to the survey of 11,600 consumers online, over 57% overall had visited social networking sites with baby boomers stopping an average of eight times on social networking sites during that three month period.

It’s also important to note that older social web users participate in the medium differently than younger users.  While younger users typically interact through comments and online conversations, older users tend to use the medium more passively as information seekers rather than content creators.  Different usage activities and trends undoubtedly call for different branding and marketing messages and initiatives via the social web.

What was once considered to be a tool of a younger generation has been embraced by an older demographic, and brands have yet to target that older demographic in social media marketing, let alone find the right way to speak to that audience through the medium. 

NPD found that “younger brands” such as Apple have leveraged the social web successfully, but “older brands” have yet to make the shift to digital media in order to communicate with consumers.  That’s not to say all “older brands” are absent on the social web, but the vast majority are still missing the boat when it comes to the interactive web.

Furthermore, NPD found that while companies within the technology, media and consumer goods industries are finding ways to market their brands through the social web, companies in other industries are either absent or not faring well.

As marketers, we must be aware of the continually changing landscape of the social web and be able to adapt quickly to leverage opportunities.  Learning that an older crowd is actively participating in social activities online (albeit in a different manner than the younger audience) is a critical piece of data.  Companies can either embrace and exploit that data or ignore it.  I’ll bet my money on the companies that embrace it.

What about your company and brand?  Have you conducted any brand campaigns via the social web targeted to an older audience?

Source: Brandweek

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

The following statement that you made says a lot:
“Learning that an older crowd is actively participating in social activities online (albeit in a different manner than the younger audience) is a critical piece of data.”

My Compu-KISS website at is geared towards boomers and seniors and we find that they are interested in some social activities. We have active message boards and more and more are sharing our web article via email. We expect that this demographic is slowly but consistently easing into online social activities.

You’re absolutely right. Boomers and seniors are definitely getting involved in social media and the trend will continue. The companies that recognize that trend now and leverage its potential will reap the benefits in the future.

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