“When was the last time your face was buried in a really good book?”
“No. I don’t read books anymore. I go on Facebook!”
“Facebook? What kind of book is that?”
This conversation might sound familiar if you’ve ever attempted to explain the wonders of social media to your grandparents and aging relatives. Social media and old folks never seem to meld very well, unlike their younger counterparts whose brains seem to be infused with Web browsers with multiple tabs open at all times. However, this long held belief that old people are technologically out of touch is no longer becoming the case.
While social media may be undeniably linked with young people, are older people starting to catch on to its potential benefits?
Seniors are becoming the fastest growing demographic to use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype, according to Forbes. With over 39 million people aged 65 or older using these social media platforms, this age group has the most potential for growth in social media usage. According to an All Assisted Living Homes report in 2010, seniors actually make up 14.8 million users (11 percent) of Facebook, which represents a yearly growth of a whopping 1448 percent.
To further confirm this, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reports that the 74-plus demographic is the growing faster than any other age group on social media. Add in the fact that baby boomers are starting to enter their golden years, and there’s nothing but tremendous upswing for social media and digital marketing.
Millennials may use social media to create a foundation for their identity, interests and relationships in life, but seniors can use social media to reflect on their achievements and experiences, as well as reestablish relationships cultivated throughout their life. Young or old, people can use social media to build, maintain and assess their life at any point.
Social media outlets, like Facebook, can paint a portrait of one’s life at the click of a button. It can help aging adults organize and prioritize key interests and relationships based on their values and lifestyle. Over 40 percent of seniors use Facebook to reconnect with family and long lost friends, according to the All Assisted Living Homes report.
Time is invaluable, and a platform such as Facebook can help elderly people spend their time with the people who matter most. Facebook organizes relationships, interests, pictures and events in order for aging adults to understand and appreciate how social networks have enriched their life.
The potential that seniors hold in dominating online usage means more content will be catered to their needs and interests. Online marketing companies, which once focused on younger demographics, could begin targeting older age groups in advertisements. Seniors have sheer strength in numbers and their increasing competence of social media could make them a lucrative focus for marketers.