August 30, 2010 | By Jesse Bouman |
Much has been published about social media’s meteoric growth. Young adults dominate the space, which clouds some business owner’s judgement regarding social media. There is a misconception that social media only works if you own a business like a hip clothing store. Businesses that skew toward a more mature crowd get scared away by social media. Pew Internet recently published their study, “Older Adults and Social Media” which should ease some company’s apprehensions about social media.
Here are a few key statistics the Pew Internet study published in their study:
- Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010
- Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
- During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
- By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%
This is very exciting news. It’s a shift that I’ve been able to see first hand since I’ve been working in the social media space. It only makes sense that older adults are the experiencing such a sharp growth curve. I believe we’re entering the “Late Majority” stage of the Diffusion of Innovations Theory and older adults were the one demographic that was slow to convert (overall). Now that social media is everywhere, not considered a gimmick, but a genuine form of communication, older adults are drinking the kool aide.
The question as a marketer in this space is, “How do we connect with these older adults?” There is no question older adults can be reached through social media, but their online behavior differs from young adults. They are less inclined to interact with a brand online than a 20-something might be. In my experience, companies with older demographics that had a seemingly low number of fans. However, on the backend their number of visitors was nearly 5 times greater than the number of fans. The normal interaction we strive to receive with this marketing wasn’t there. But, we were still seeing an increase in visits, the word was still getting out. With greater acceptance of social media by broader audiences, marketers can continue to be creative and devise strategies to optimize the interaction and value for companies.
This study someone validates what people in the social media industry already knew, this is a booming industry with great potential. It’s not just for teenie boppers anymore. You can truly use social media to reach the gamut of consumers. I am terribly excited for the future and the possibilities we can create through social media!