November 9, 2015
Social Media Use Skyrockets Among Senior Citizens

Social Media.

When we think of it, we think of hip young people dialed into their smartphones, chatting, texting, sharing, following, liking, and tweeting. An image that probably doesn't jump to mind when we think of social media is senior citizens.

But that is changing, and changing at a phenomenal rate.

According to a PEW research poll, the amount of senior citizens (those 65 and older) that use social media has gone up almost 400 percent in just the last five years. In 2010, only three percent of senior citizens said that they utilized some for of social media, and now, in 2015, over 11 percent of them say that they use social media.

Social Media
[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]At first glance, 11 percent might not seem like a large percentage of people using social media, especially when you compare it to the 90 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 that say they use it. However, when you consider that only three in 100 used social media five years ago, and now one in 10 use it, that seems a bit more impressive.

So, what's with the increase? Are senior citizens just getting smarter about technology? Or is there another reason? According to the report, one primary cause hasn't been identified, but research does point to senior citizens trying to connect with old friends through social media, as well as reaching out for "chronic disease support" and utilizing social media to bridge generational gaps with younger people.

Now that your grandparents are on Facebook and Snapchat, what are the implications?

For one, social media marketing will surely continue to increase in popularity and use. Indicators are at present that social media marketing is slowly -- yet constantly -- pushing out conventional print, television and radio advertising, and for good reason. While the costs of 20th century marketing (print, televison and radio) continue to climb, social media marketing remains much, much cheaper, and usually brings about better results.

How?

One key way that social media marketing is better than conventional marketing is in the area of demographics. Think about it: when you, or your grandparents, sign up for Facebook, you often tell the social media platform a ton about yourself, including your age, sex, marital status, geographic location, your interests, your hobbies, your work history, etc. The amount of demographic information that Facebook users provide is unprecedented in the history of marketing. When utilizing a social media plan that includes Facebook marketing, you can -- for example -- create an ad that targets women between the ages of 25 and 50 that have an interest in gardening and that all live within a 25 mile radius of Kansas City. Unparalleled demographic targeting.

Secondly, social media marketing allows businesses and their social media managers access to key analytics in terms of reach, views, click-throughs, and ROI -- or return on investment. When a business runs an ad in a local or national newspaper, they know the circulation of the actual newspaper, but they have no idea how many people actually saw their ad. Similarly, when a business runs a radio ad, although the station might have an idea how many listeners they have, the business ultimately has no idea how many people have heard their ad and how many people changed the station when the commercial break started. Social media marketing can give a business some exact numbers on who actually saw their ad on a particular social media platform, as well as what sort of click-through or call to action was performed as a result of a person interacting with the ad.

Senior Citizens
[Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]Ultimately, the rise in the number of senior citizens that are using social media leads to many more options for businesses that are using social media marketing. Now, and in increasing numbers only a few years down the road, social media marketing won't only be utilized by companies that want to target younger people, but by businesses that want to target seniors using social media as well.

[Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]