If seniors citizens are your target market, should you be using social media to market to them? I once got that question at a panel that I moderated, and the experts said, in short, no. Those over 65 aren't on social media.
Today, a new report from the Pew Research Center shows that actually, elderly people are increasingly active on social media. If you're selling to senior citizens, perhaps you should rethink your social media strategy, too.
Pew started tracking social networking use, and breaking it down by age and gender, in 2005. By 2006, it was obvious that young people were the ones using social media--and that no one else was doing much of anything in that sphere. That year, 41 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds were active on social media, while statistically, zero percent of people 65 or older were. Even among the next age bracket, those from 30 to 49, only six percent were using social media nine years ago.
While the percentage of adults who use social media has steadily climbed across all age brackets since then, it's the recent advance of senior citizens that may be most striking. This year, 35 percent of those 65 and older say they're active on social media, compared to only 19 percent in 2012.
That's still a smaller number than the younger users, but impressive nonetheless. Ninety percent of 18-to-29 year olds are now active on social media, compared to 77 percent of people in their thirties or forties, and 51 percent of those from 50 to 64.
It's worth noting that the adoption rates of for social media do seem to be flattening out somewhat, with the most aggressive growth occurring before 2010. That means seniors might be one of the few demographics with a lot of online growth yet to come, and perhaps an undervalued market for internet-based products and services.