A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how my grandpa and I became Facebook friends, and what it meant for our family and his social and personal life. Spring boarding off of that, today we’ll address how, as seniors continue to adopt social media, there’s a growing opportunity to market to them via social platforms. The challenge for marketers is knowing which seniors you’re targeting, and what action you want them to take. That intersection is critical; a misstep could destroy trust and quickly create negative word of mouth.
Before you start: As is the case with any marketing effort, make sure social marketing is part of a concerted digital strategy, that you can track the return on investment, and that your product or services is relevant to the senior marketplace.
Then, take a deeper dive into the audience. Just because a Facebook user is over 65 does not automatically make them a target for nursing homes or walkers.
Understanding the audience: Older seniors are less comfortable with social media than their younger counterparts. If you’re not already representing a trusted brand, work to develop trust and create a one-to-one relationship with users in this segment. They love photo sharing, so make sure your posts include imagery (as long as it’s relevant). In terms of messaging, be forthright. Keep your calls to action simple.
Younger seniors, the oft-referenced “Silver Tsunami” of boomers, are much more familiar with social media, mobile devices, and other online activities, from money management to shopping. In fact, the Pew Research Center says close to 70% of them bank and buy online – only a few percentage points away from GenX or Millennial behavior!
Seniors in the 65–74 group feel empowered and successful, having mastered social media and other technology. Be authentic, and recognize that these consumers see your brand on multiple screens. This cohort controls more wealth than any other age group in America, so you won’t want to take their savvy for granted.
Lastly, you have the group of boomers who are not yet seniors, but are rapidly approaching the dividing line of discounted movies and AARP memberships. This group, quite literally, encompasses people my parents’ age. And that means the social senior generation will soon expand to cover those from their early 60s, all the way to their 90s. The youngest group is most comfortable with social media, and whether their days are filled with work or play, convenience is a key factor to balancing busy lives.
Playing to their strengths: Once you know and understand which audience group you’ll be targeting, appeal to the better parts of their online behavior:
1. They are more brand-loyal. According to Forrester, 63% of online Seniors agree that when they find a brand they like, they stick to it, compared with 53% of online adults.
2. They still read. Unlike younger audiences, who want to consume content via video or infographics, this audience will read content on the page, assuming it’s a font that works for their eyes. And they prefer content with a personal connection – make it relevant to their grandkids, their retirement plans, or their health; you’ll strike a hot button.
3. They feel young. As they’ve adopted the same technology as their grandchildren, and in some cases, great-grandchildren, they’ve adapted a very young-at-heart mentality. Market to how they feel, not their age.
4. Online and offline are connected. This group still meets up for coffee, golf, or card club. And they use those in-person meetings to discuss their online successes or failures, as well as whose grandkids are dating whose. Set your brand up for success by being an experience they’ll rave about in person.
— Miranda Anderson is an Account Supervisor at Digitaria. This post originally appeared on the Digitaria Blog.