Are You Reaching The Fastest Growing Demographic Online?

By Susan Tucker

The growth of older generations using social media has been staggering over the past three years, in fact, the 50 and over age group is the fastest growing demographic online. Not only is this generation going online on a daily basis (76% according to Pew Internet), they also account for the majority of the online consumer population.

Of course, this is exactly how older folks look when they're using the computer... right?
Of course, this is exactly how older folks look when they’re using the computer… right?

How is the older generation using social media?

According to 2014 Facebook Demographics Report, the biggest population growth for the platform came from the 55+ age group. And, it’s no surprise. Facebook has opened the doors for every age group to connect with friends and family, as well as keeping them in the loop on news and world events.

LinkedIn is another popular social network for this generation, accounting for more than half of all users overall.  Many of these users have embraced social media for the power it holds as they shift careers, pursue passions and get industry news.

Twitter has the least number of older users with only 18% reporting to be over the age of 50 and seniors are using it to find health information, follow news outlets and literary publications.

YouTube attracts a surprising percentage of older users, with the largest number in the 45-54 age bracket, followed closely by those aged 55-64.

The older generation is using social media mainly to connect with families, many of them are looking for news and information, gaming online and participating in contests. Not only are they highly engaged, they also have a 47 times the net worth of households 35 and older.

New Technology

As far as the 50+ crowd adopting technology, social media is the fastest growing area of new applications according to Tom Kamber, the executive director for a New York City based non-profit called Older Adults Technology Services (OATS). In a recent article on CNBC.com Kanter went on to say that one of the main motivations for older adults to embrace social media is to contribute to the world around them, they are using these outlets as a way to find volunteer work, get their resumes out and build their network.

Embracing new technology can be healthy; as folks grow older they can become isolated. Social media is an easy way to stay connected and up to date on the latest happenings.

What does all this mean for small business owners?

Small business owners can’t ignore this important demographic and the growth it has experienced with online media. I predict with the growing usage of smart phones (the number of seniors who own cell phones has jumped a staggering 57% in just two years) and mobile technology, it’s bound to continue to grow even more.

Katie Moran said it best in this Forbes article.

According to AdAge, “every day for the next two decades, 10,000 boomers will join in the marketing wasteland of ‘seniors.’”  At the very least, brands need to start understanding social media marketing towards senior citizens before all of the Boomers retire—a demographic that will be more computer literate than any senior generation before.

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