How Are Baby Boomers Using Social Media?

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Every seven seconds someone in America turns 50

77 million people were born between 1946 and 1964. By 2015, the AARP predicts that people aged 50 and older will represent 45% of the U.S. population.

These consumers matter and advertisers should pay attention.

The largest age group in the United States

According to the U.S. Census, in 2010, 49 will be the single largest age group in the United States. In 2010, adults 45 and older are predicted to out-spend younger adults by $1 trillion.

Where do casinos, health-care organizations and political campaigns — examples of advertisers whose models depend a lot on the 55-plus demographic — advertise if most broadcast outlets are programming toward younger demographics?

The answer is social networks

Internet monitoring site comScore, estimates 16.5 million adults age 55 and older currently engage in social networking.

Baby boomers, are finding social networking sites appealing for the same reasons younger people do – to stay connected. Of course the older you are, the more likely you are to be interested in reconnecting with long lost friends and classmates you haven’t talked to in more than 30 years.

Boomers like to Blog

Most people believe that all of the blogging, Twittering and Facebooking is being done by twenty and thirty-somethings. However the facts tell a different story.

The fastest growing users of social networking sites

According to a Consumer Electronics Usage Survey from Accenture, Baby Boomers (those born 1946-1964) are the fastest growing users of social networking sites and are increasingly reading blogs. Meanwhile Gen Y interest in these services has started to plateau.

Baby boomers are social

  • Increased reading blogs and listening to podcasts by 67 percent year over year; nearly 80 times faster than Gen Y (1 percent)
  • Posted a 59 percent increase in using social networking sites—more than 30 times faster than Gen Y (2 percent)
  • Increased watching/posting videos on the Internet by 35 percent—while Gen Y usage decreased slightly (-2 percent)
  • Accelerated playing video games on the go via mobile devices by 52 percent— 20 times faster than Gen Y (2 percent)
  • Increased listening to music on an iPod or other portable music player by 49 percent—more than four times faster than Gen Y (12 percent)

Gen Y is falling behind

  • Participation slipped in virtual worlds from 23 percent to 19 percent
  • Consumed no more video online than they did last year
  • Blogged and contributed to wikis less ( down from 35 to 33 percent)

Grandma loves Facebook

According to Facebook, their fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older. According to iStrategyLabs, Facebook has a user base of 18.1 million users, and the number of users age 55 and over has grown from a negligible 950,000 to 5.9 million in a mere six months, which equates to a 513.7% increase.

Look who’s on MySpace

Even MySpace, with 130 million users, is enjoying a surge among the 55-plus set, who total 6.9 million users and spend an average 204 minutes a month on the site.

The AARP gets social

In just one year, over 350,000 users created 1,700 groups celebrating everything from gardening to social activism on the AARP.org social networking platform. This 55-plus online Community encourages users to meet new adult friends and socialize with one another by sharing photos and videos, playing online games, asking advice, writing in a journal, and chatting with their connections. As social networking evolves, older consumers are becoming more and more involved with social networking sites. According to a study conducted by the AARP, 58% of members over 50 access their online community several times a day.

Boomers like to share

These sites are where Boomers share their opinions, and brands are starting to realize social networking is a great way to connect with this increasingly large group and wealthy group of consumers. In a world where few people live close to family or old friends, social media sites are making it easier for everyone to reconnect.

Everybody’s doing it

Whether it’s congressmen Twittering during presidential speeches, parents connecting with high school flames on Facebook or empty-nesters planning group outings on grown-up sites such as Eons.com, Baby Boomers are a growing part of social media’s evolution, becoming more connected and more engaged than ever before.

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