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July 6th, 2010 8 Comments » Filed under Acknowledgement

Asyah13’s Blog

June 21, 2010


Filed under: Research Word — asyah13 @ 9:36 am

Contrary to popular wisdom, Baby Boomers are participating in social networks – closing the generation gap on these sites.

Not so long ago, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace were the digital playgrounds of the young-specifically, Millennials (born between 1980-2000) and Generation X (born between 1965-1980). Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) were virtually non-existent on these sites. When the Pew Internet & American Life study looked at social networking behaviour in 2005, they found iess than 10% of US adults of 18 years and older had created a profile on a social network. By 2008, that number had increased to 35%. Yet, despite the increase , Boomers were still under-represented on the sites and those that had joined were infrequent visitors. Some analysts even suggested that Boomers were not interested in social networks and that any increase in visitation was merely a blip, a passing curiosity.

But now in 2010, several studies suggest otherwise. Boomers are in fact joining and participating in social networks, closing the generation gap on these sites. Deloitte late last year found that 46% of Boomers maintained at least one social networking profile – up significantly from 2007 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Us Internet Users Who Currently Maintain a Social Networking Profile

  2007 2008 2009
Millennials 71% 76% 77%
Generation X 51% 57% 61%
Baby Boomers 30% 31% 46%
World War II Gen 10% 14% 36%
Total 45% 48% 57%

By generation, 2007-2009 (% of respondents)

Source : Deloitte, State of Media Democracy, fouth edition, 2009


The Boomers were not only creating profiles, but they were also visiting and interacting on these networks with regularity. According to Pew’s more recent study, 85% of younger Boomers and 73% of Older Boomers checked into social networking sites at least once a week or more – a rate comparable to their younger cohorts.

And the social networks Boomers are most likely to frequent is Facebook. According to digital market research firm comScore, roughly 60% of social networking Boomers – 22.6 million – used Facebook in October 2009; no other social network came close.

It’s not entirely surprising that Facebook is their social network of choice since Boomers view social networks as a way to stay in touch with family and friends. According to Anderson Analytics, 58% of Boomers state that this is the reason they use social networks. This may also explain why Boomer-specific social networks-like Boomer Towne and Eons-never took off. Boomers want a multi-generational networks, and thus far only Facebook fits the bill: it offers Boomers access to old friends as well as to their children and grandchildren, and, yes, even younger friends. In comparison, younger generations are more likely to participate in both MySpace and Facebook (See Figure 2).

Figure 2 : Us Social Networks Users and Sites

  Facebook MySpace Twitter LinkedIn
Millennials 65% 75% 14% 9%
Generation X 76% 57% 18% 13%
Baby Boomers 73% 40% 13% 13%
World War II Gen 90% 23% 17% 4%

By generation (% of respondents in each group)

Source : Anderson Analytics, Social Network Service (SNS) A&U Profiler Note : n = 1,000; read chart horizontally – eg, 65% of Millennial social network users use Facebook.

If you’re thinking, “well, so what does this have to do with selling a products ?” you should know that Boomers who use social networks are twice as likely, according to Anderson Analytics, to purchase products online than those who don’t participate.


–          Include social media in plans to reach Boomers. It is clear that social networks are not a passing phase for Boomers. Like others, they are finding that online social networks enhance their existing relationships.

–          Join them at the networks they already frequent; don’t create a separate unique network for them based on their age. Boomers want to connect with their friends and family – across generations. They don’t want to be segregated by age.

–          Create ‘share-worthy’ content. Boomers aren’t just lurking on social networks, they are sharing and recruiting. Give them content they deem worthy of sharing or a reason to ‘recruit’ others. For instance, a Facebook bra meme, launched in January 2010, drew significant numbers of Boomer women into the meme; it was not a meme of just younger women. News and humanitarian organisations are successfully engaging Boomers on social networking sites, sharing their organisations’ content throughout their networks.

–          Don’t be afraid to incorporate media – video, pictures, etc. – for Boomers to share. Half of Boomers on social networks have watched videos, uploaded pictures or read someone’s blog.

–          Social media shouldn’t replace traditional media yet for this age cohort. While Boomers are embracing social networks, they still spend significant amounts of time with traditional media – television, newspapers and radio – more so than younger generations (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 : Media Usage By Age Group

  Millennials Gen X Boomers
TV – Hours: Minutes per month* 130 : 50 151 : 52 185 : 20
% Read newspapers almost every day** 23% 36% 54%
Internet – Hours: Minutes per month* 31 : 37 42 : 35 39 : 27
Daily use of radio (minutes)*** 82 86 85

Source :*TV and Internet Use: Nielsen A2/M2 Three Screen Report, 2009  ; **Newspapers: Harris Interactive, January 2010 ; ***Radio: Radio Advertising Bureau

Finally, the goal for all these channels for marketers is to win over the Boomers; their loyalty is up for grabs. Refuting a popular marketing truism that older consumers become more brand loyal, a 2008 AARP/Focalyst study found that 61% of Boomers felt “it didn’t pay to be brand loyal”. In March 2009, Nielsen corroborated that finding in their own study which found only a fifth of Boomers were more brand loyal than their younger cohorts

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Great article describing the social network trends of baby boomers generation x and millennials. If you are a marketer is great info.

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