Are Social Seniors The Hottest Opportunity for Marketers?


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If you thought those folks playing on life’s “back nine” are not reachable through social media, think again as seniors are proliferating social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook as the highest growth category in 2013.

Social Seniors

That t-shirt you saw in the mall that said “Your Granny’s on Facebook!” on that skater that made you cringe is now a wake up call for marketers who have dispelled senior usage and adoption of social media.

Recently Forbes cited some pretty powerful statistics – that those over the age of 65 have 47x the net worth of households headed by those 35 years and older (according to AdAge) and that they are the fastest growing users and spending some of their golden time searching on Google, watching YouTube and connecting with family and friends on Facebook and they are doing it from their IPads. Marketers who excluded the 39 million people aged 65 and older on Facebook, Twitter and Skype will have to reconsider their strategy, mix and approach.

In many ways, senior social users are like everyone else who was an early adopter. 40% of them use social platforms to keep tabs on their family and friends and share in a more holistic way. It also seems that Facebook perving is also a past time of our grandparents – they spend 30% of their time browsing albums and images. For those who with nimble enough reflexes and time to spend, social gaming is still fun (20%) and 10% use social channels to enter contests and play games.

Whilst Facebook has the largest volume of social seniors, a recent Pew Research found that 13% of adults over 50 have profiles and engage on Twitter and estimate this figure to only continue to rise. Social seniors are similarly finding it an easily accessible source for following streams of information, news, their favorite talk show celebrities and gather information on health. The rise of more traditional communication streams going digital – things like church newsletters and magazines required many seniors who otherwise reluctant embrace computers, the internet and the notion of social communities. Other influences on senior social behavior are logically related to their ability to get out and about like they used to conduct simple tasks like shopping, standing and walking and driving. Social networks, Skype calls, and Facebook allow them to settle down with a cup of tea and continue to feel a part of polite society. In America, certain universities have begun to teach seniors in nursing homes how to create social profiles, conduct simple searches and assist in removing the fear that they can “break the internet”, with centers investing in over-sized keyboards, larger computer screens and brightly colored mice.

This poses some interesting opportunities for certain brands that want to exclusively reach out to these targeted consumers who are fairly new to social channels and have yet to build such a large social graph. Competition would be fairly low for their eyeballs and attention and Facebook advertising platform allows precise targeting to this niche sector based on geography, age, gender.  Bear in mind that new social seniors whilst new to social media, are mature in their thoughts and opinions and like to be heard. Because the platform and way to connect and consume is both fresh and novel, it is the optimum channel for a web exclusive brand to take market share over a brick and mortar brand provided they can demonstrate value (cheaper on the web) or convenience (buy it at 3am in the comfort of your lounge room and get it delivered tomorrow).

Savvy marketers would do well to create polls and deploy gamification strategies to reward frequent interaction, deeper engagement and develop public advocates through relevant, informative, and entertaining tactical campaigns where these savvy and sassy consumers can be celebrated. Deploy a content marketing strategy that encourages repeat interaction using mystery, intimacy and sensuality and speak to them respectfully. Tap into their disposable income, the ease for which to educate them on a product or service using entertaining rich media on YouTube with a call to action in the comfort of their easy chair and we can also anticipate that this niche will also become the fastest growing segment in online retail consumption.

Here’s the infographic that inspired this blog post created by the great folks at Wishpond.

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