One of the biggest developments with digital marketing came with the discovery that older folks were getting to grips with the Internet. It seemed a bit quaint at the time: parents and grandparents figuring out how to use email and order online. Whatever next! It didn’t take long for businesses to wake up to this huge new opportunity and stop treating the Internet as a place merely to find the under 40s. After all, it’s the seniors who have the most purchasing power.
So it’s interesting to see the first real signs of a similar shift with social media, a medium long associated with young people. Pew’s new survey suggests that older adults are now the largest growing demographic for use of social media: social networking use among internet users aged 50 and older soared from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010. More specifically, the number aged 50-64 using social networking sites grew 88%, and doubled for the over 64s.
Email is still the main form of communication for older users, the report notes, but there is a definite shift towards social media as a way of keeping in touch.
Could this affect the way that younger people use social media? They might not be so uninhibited about revealing their innermost thoughts and doings if Mum and Gran start joining in. Possibly, but this is a fast developing medium anyway, and who knows how it will look in two or three years time. In the meantime, the growing presence of the older generation in social media can only make it more attractive to businesses as a way to maintain dialogue.
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