Boomers and Zoomers: The Social Web Grows Up


As Boomers continue to age, their social media skills are ripening. The latest Pew Internet survey reveals that social networking among Internet users in the 50+ segment nearly doubled, from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” comments Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report.

That’s not to say that there’s now a deluge of 50+ to contend with on the social web, she adds: “Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications.” More on the new Pew online stats after the jump.[more]

Pew’s latest Internet study found that 20% of the online adult population between the ages of 50 and 64 use social networking sites on a typical day, up 10% from last year.

And among “senior citizens” aged 65+, 13% log on daily compared to 4% in 2009. Those Boomers are beginning to tweet and friend, as one in 10 users over 50 use Twitter or a comparable service for sharing updates about themselves or keeping track of friends.

What does this mean for brands? Think low-hanging fruit, a new and growing crop of customers to engage with and the ability to leverage their extended social networks.

How to do this requires some nuance germane to the cohort. One example is Charles Orlando, a social media maven who has gathered 59,000 Facebook fans in just the last six months, 97% of whom are women.

The author of The Problem with Women…is Men took to Facebook to promote his book, and comments, “I’ve been in the trenches with my book’s Fan Page for the last year…and much of what I’ve accomplished has to do with three clear things: tone/voice, relevant and valuable content, and non-‘salesy’ engagement. … This was accomplished with pure word of mouth. Not a dime has gone into an online advertising.”

As the phenomenon of social media engagement increasingly embraces the Boomer demo and psychographic, Foursquare may become the next meeting place for teens and their grandparents…a new digital awkward for both.