Older Americans Slowly Warming Up to Social Media
A new study of social media habits shows that Boomers and older generations are increasingly curious about online social networking yet also increasingly frustrated with websites.
In its e-book, Social, Silver Surfers, Creating Results, the digital marketing agency, first examined the digital attitudes of older adults in 2010. At that time, they surveyed Americans over 40 about what they were doing on websites and social networks, and how they felt about these channels. The agency repeated the process this year to see how respondents’ views changed with the rise in social networking activity overall.
Unfortunately for brands and retailers, one notable non-change is the resistance of older adults to engaging with organizations via social networks. Only 14 percent of all 40+ Americans surveyed in 2010 said they wanted to be a brand’s friend/follower, etc.; 19 percent said "Maybe." In 2013, only 10 percent said "Yes" and 22 percent said "Maybe."
Other highlights of the study:
- More respondents in 2013 versus 2010 expressed frustration with websites, citing a larger number of pet peeves. The number one turn-off cited was the requirement to register in order to get information — 79 percent complained about this practice.
- Eighty-six percent of all respondents reported concerns about privacy and security when filling out a form online. The most worried are older Baby Boomers and those with children over the age of 18 at home.
- "Email a Friend" is the most popular sharing tool, used by a reported 77 percent of all ages. "Share with Your Network" widgets are used by only 26 percent of all ages.
- As in 2010, offline connections are the primary reason for an older adult to try online social networking, but "Curiosity" increased significantly as a driver for social networking by 65+ seniors — 22 percent of Silent Generation respondents and 33 percent of Greatest Generations cited this as a reason for trial.
"Whether it’s on a website or a social platform, older adults are telling us they want respect," said Todd Harff, president of Creating Results and co-director of the national study. "They’re busy, and are demanding simple, easy to navigate websites. They don’t want self-promotional blather mucking up their social streams."
The research included more than 800 online polls, offline intercept surveys and video interviews with 40+ internet users.
- Baby Boomers and Seniors Increasingly "Peeved" With Websites, Increasingly Active On Social Networks, Yet Still Resistant to Following Brands – Creating Results
- Social, Silver Surfers – Creating Results
- Social Silver Surfers 2013: An Updated Look at the Attitudes of Baby Boomers and Seniors Towards Websites and Social Media (e-book) – Amazon.com (Purchase required)
How would you rate social media as a tool for brands and retailers to reach 40+ Americans? How should the approach differ for connecting with these consumers versus those in the generations that follow?