How to Reach Baby Boomers: Exploring their Social Side

Local Media Strategy
Baby Boomers are the fastest growing segment in social media.  Tips on using the right media mix to reach this important target audience.

When you begin building a media plan for a 50+ demographic you think television, radio and print … easy no-brainer, right?  But, if you aren’t including social media in the mix, then you may be missing an opportunity to embrace social media’s fastest growing user segment … today’s “tuned in” Baby Boomer.

While it’s true that the usage of traditional mediums, especially television and newspaper, are much higher for the Baby Boomer generation than those in Gen X or Gen Y; Baby Boomers are also the fastest growing user segment of social media.According to a Pew Research study, over 50% of people aged 50-64 are active on social media and 32% are using social media on a daily basis, which represents a 60% increase from 2010 alone.

Pew Research Study


If, like me, you increasingly hear your Gen X friends say, “my Grandma just commented on my status” or your mom say, “oh yes, I saw those pictures on Facebook,” then you know that this is more than just a fad.

Baby Boomers were told by Apple to Think Different and were the ones using chat rooms and message boards on platforms like AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe in the late ’80s and ’90s.

Today, they are connecting with family and grandkids on Skype and Apple’s FaceTime.  Many are also early-adopters of technology, who love their smartphones and iPads … it’s not just the Gen Y’s in Silicon Valley.

The AARP obviously sees the relevance of social media to reach their target and has over 83,000 Facebook fans and over 34,000 Twitter followers.  I love Betty White … she rocks!  And, the tag line “Get Over It” seems to sum up this generation.  They are active and youthful, and they aren’t going to let all of this new technology pass them by.

According to a Nielsen survey for Q2 2011, 19% of those 55+ owned a tablet and 30% owned an eReader.  These figures will continue to grow significantly in 2012.  eMarketer estimates that by the end of 2012, 54.8 million Americans will have a tablet of some kind, up from 33.7 million at the end of 2011.

Steve Sternburg posted one of my favorite articles on MediaPost’s TV Board last summer.  It was about his 55th birthday and the notion that he has now fallen outside of the highly coveted 25-54 demographic.   Is he more similar to his “empty-nester” friends or his younger friends with kids in school with his 12-year old son?   He uses his DVR, smartphone, iPad2 and plays Playstation 3 and Wii alongside his son, and is active on Facebook.

It is difficult to pigeonhole this generation because, unlike previous generations, they aren’t in the same stage of the life cycle.  This is a group that marketers shouldn’t discount or ignore.

So, the next time that you are working through your marketing strategy to reach Baby Boomers, consider going beyond the traditional mediums like print, TV and radio (all still very important) and integrate social, mobile and apps into the campaign.   After all, these are people who want to engage with you and your brand.

Shelby Nichols

About Shelby Nichols

Shelby is Director of Digital Media at Sheehy, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. With close to 15 years in the industry she has planned and purchased a wide range of media and has a passion for all things digital.

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