Pah! Millennials have nothing on Oldies when it comes to social media

From conferences to books and a plethora of blog posts, we are obsessed with targeting Millennials – especially through social media. But there is a hidden gem on social media. A demographic that at best is being ignored and at worst stereotyped.

 “Wake up to the social savvy seniors, or risk missing out on your most lucrative market”

They say 50 is the new 40. A new ‘Oldie’ that cannot be pigeon-holed as the ‘cotton heads’ at a Darby and Joan dance. But an active, adventurous, time-rich and spending audience. Britain’s 50+ audience holds almost 70% of the household wealth and account for 22 million individuals. They don’t just hold the wealth, they spend it too. According to Saga they account for 47% of UKs consumer spending (an incredible £320 billion a year).

Put aside prejudices. The new older generation are not quite the Grannies and Grandads we imagine. Instead think national icons. After all this generation is the last of the baby boomers and the first tranche of Generation X. The rebels. After all those over 50 include some of the very people that built the internet: Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Gates and of course the late Steve Jobs. But it isn’t just the geeks. Adam Sandler, Janet Jackson, Alan Davies, Heston Blumenthal, Halle Berry and Kiefer Sutherland all turn 50 this year. This generation has influence (and controls 89% of the disposable wealth in the UK)

Tech savvy oldies

It is a terrible preconception that oldies are not tech literate. Only 2% of the 50+ hate using tech and 78% actively enjoy it (65% own three or more devices). But they are social too. According to, 92% of over-50s use Facebook. Actively too. 81% say they check out Facebook more than once a day.

And according to Global Web Index, 50% of 50+ visited a brand website and 17% a brand Facebook page. Ok, so they are not so hot on Twitter (GWI suggests around 26% have an account; or even too enamoured with YouTube (32%), but surprisingly 20% use WhatsApp. Who knew!

When you consider that 85% purchased a product online in the last month; well you get the point.

Emojis, college humour and link bait: I don’t think so

Enough with the demographics. We know this is not how social works. What matters is RELEVANCY. The trouble is that most social content is firmly aimed at the young. Or worst still is delivered as a special offer for the pensioners (think insurance for oldies) often in the most patronising of ways. Reaching them in social means:

  1. Stop lumping seniors together

Those over 50 are an incredibly diverse bunch. They cross two generations and many have matured through a digital age.  But they are not the same. Passions and interests vary greatly. Some are empty-nesters, some are household spenders with boomerang kids, and others  (66%) are spending the kids inheritance (SKIERS) – usually on luxury goods and high end items.

So like any other target market you need to look at interests, passions, influences and behaviours and segment accordingly

  1. Stop thinking like a 25-35 yo marketer

And start thinking like a marketer. Not every image you use of people needs to be only of the young. Not everything has to centre on young trends. According to High50 only 4 per cent of people in the over 50 age group feel advertising is aimed at them. And when it is, they feel stereotyped, patronised and made to feel old. Social media presents an opportunity to step away from this type of marketing to the older consumer. It’s a chance to connect with an affluent group and make an impact. After all, where else can you segment behaviours in the finest of details, except in social media?

Social is bursting with content. But that most enjoyed by the 50 plus generation tends to be of a more discerning nature. Good copy is preferred over emojis and slang. Instead clever, thoughtful smart content beats link baiting (without being stuffy and boring). Think hard about your content – over-50s have a taste for good things.

  1. They buy – so target them

Older folk are no more brand loyal than younger generations (yet another fallacy). The internet and mobile has seen an end to the ‘brand for life’ idea. But they do spend

  • 68% of cosmetic purchases are made by UK women over 50
  • They account for 70% of the luxury travel market spend
  • 35% of shoppers over 55 regularly shop for clothes online and a further 34% do so occasionally

In fact, in almost every sector, over-50s are spending. They are researching online and asking friends on Facebook. This gives social media professionals unique targeting insight. A chance to both encourage peer sharing and wave at them with brand messaging, just as they’re considering a purchase. An opportunity to be relevant.

One last point to make. Someone turns 50 every 40 seconds in the UK. By 2020 more than 50% of the UKs population will be over 50. If you are not connecting with them on Facebook, what are you be missing?

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