Grandpa and Grandma going Social

Guess who is getting active on Social Media?  Seems the 50 plus doubled their usage of social networking in the past year.  According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project’s new report, “Older Adults and Social Media”, usage among this demographic went from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

In this same time period, Internet users between ages 50 and 64 who said they use a social networking site increased 88% with one-fifth using social networking sites daily.  Those 65 years and older are getting into the act as well.

Why are these older folks becoming active on Social Media?

Per Pew these folks discovered that Social Media is where their kids and grand kids are spending their time…big surprise. If Grandma wants to see what Suzie is up to, best to check out her Facebook Wall.

Further, these sites give them a way to reconnect with long lost relatives, old heart throbs and school chums.  Another reason for seeking out camaraderie online are health related.  Those living with some sort of chronic disease are most likely to reach out for support or to take part in online health discussions.

Nailing another nail in the newspaper coffin is that many older Americans are also checking online news sites daily.  76% of Internet users 50 to 64 check news online and 62% of those 65 and older.  News updates are daily for approximately two-thirds of these two Internet user groups.

While this wasn’t part of the Pew Research results, I would think that many Internet users in the 50 – 64 age group are also using the Internet as a way to find jobs, refinance their homes and/or find additional options in financing their child’s education.  Let’s face it.  When times get tough, and they are for a lot of the aging Baby Boomers, people turn to whatever tools they can to find solutions and this includes social media.

Impact on Small Business?

The bigger question is what does this say to small business owners?  To my mind, it says they should forget about burning precious dollars in newspaper advertising.  It just isn’t worth it.  Further, it points where small businesses need to go to capture their fair share of their markets.  Remember, as a marketer, one needs to go where the market is and if that is on social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, then the smart small business owners need to be there as well.  Most importantly, they need to be active in these social media arenas.  Are you actively participating on Facebook and Twitter?  Should you?

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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