Refocusing on Boomers in Social Networks

Posted on September 1, 2010


Even though many of us now are in our 60s, Boomers still consider themselves forever young.  Those known as the 60s generation, in fact, sometimes believe they invented youth, in all its variegated aspects–from Mickey Mouse Club to miniskirts, from the Beatles to the battle lines of campus confrontation, the Boomer generation has always celebrated youth.

Few should be surprised, then, at a recent Pew Research Center poll, showing that in just one year–from April 2009 to May 2010–social networking by Internet users 50 and older nearly doubled, to 47 percent from 25 percent, while usage among today’s 18-29-year-olds grew only 13 percent. (Of course, a greater proportion of whippersnappers already used social networks).  

A principal reason for this exploding interest in social sites on the part of Boomers, according to the researchers, is they know Facebook and Twitter are where the young folks hang out–and where they can visit distance children and grandkids.  “There are few other spaces–online or offline–where tweens, teens sandwich generation members, grandparents, friends and neighbors regularly intersect and communicate across the same network,” Mary Madden, author of the report, is reported to have observed.  We’re also connecting more with people from our own youth, the report noted.

What this all means for communicators is to realize that your Boomer audience is booming on social media.  When we are engaging audiences on social network, therefore, we need to:

  • Broaden our perspective beyond ear buds and video gaming to incorporate products and services for very active seniors.
  • Enhance our marketing focus to create a sense of family–a perspective that crosses and includes multiple generations.
  • Make it easy for users to incorporate and share photos of friends and family using our product or service.
  • Capitalize on the value of class reunions, family reunions and key anniversary dates of major events along the Boomer timeline.
  • Avoid strained trendiness in the language of our posts; Boomers find it difficult to translate hip-hop, much less listen to it.
  • Maintain a historical perspective on today’s developments.

Boomer are still a major population force in America and have been the nation’s power brokers for decades.  As we prepare to relinquish this position to Gen Xers, we won’t go quietly.  Social networking sites will become an increasingly important town hall for Boomers who want to continue to protest, argue, mediate and otherwise influence the course of national affairs.