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Senior Citizens and Social Media

It’s easy to assume social medias are the domain of the young and frenetic. To assume the “silver surfer” or the silver haired 55+ dem0graphic is rather technologically disconnected. That assumption would be wrong. Marketers would do well to take a second look at this market and it is growing. In Atlantic Canada and northeastern USA, the average age of a Facebook user is 53. In England we see a similar trend, though it is somewhat lower at 46.

How do figure that the Silver Surfer is more active than we might have assumed? As the Internet grew in popularity, it was first most popularly adopted by people in their 40′s, back in the mid-1990′s. Computers were triple or more the cost of what they are today and those that could afford them for the household, and the cost of Internet connectivity (dial-up no less!) were in the higher middle income brackets, professional and well educated. Now, 15 years on, they are into their 50′s and 60′s and they are active.

Reason for Engagement
The pie chart below indicates the reason Silver Surfers engage in social media. Friends and family come first; no surprise there. This is followed by hobbies (golf, knitting, sailing etc.) but shopping and banking comes in last. Silver Surfers are still untrusting of online financial transactions. We also found that this demographic is among the most vocal in local newsmedia websites for commentary.









Channels Used
Here we have a graph of the channels used by various age groups. As we can see, Silver Surfers prefer to Forums and photo sharing. They may watch video but are unlikely to create and share videos through channels like YouTube or Vimeo. For social networks in Western nations they prefer Facebook for its ease of use (all things considered) and because it is more likely that’s where family and friends are. This research was conducted prior to Google+ launch.


Silver Surfers or Senior Citizens (classed by us as 55+ in this instance) are active in social media. They love to comment on news sites and as expected have strong opinions. For the most part, they prefer simple tools that fit in largely with services they are already familiar with. They quickly develop habits of use with preferred tools and are unlikely to change their preferences once established. New tools that take some exploration or anywhere near complex will not be easily adopted. They are “late adopters” of any technology and service online.

This is an active social media demographic. Marketers have an opportunity to engage in these channels and push products and services. We do note they are not likely to plonk down a credit card number into an online purchasing system unless they truly establish a trust connection.

We collected and aggregated data from 2,500 profiles in Atlantic Canada and New England states and 1,200 profiles from England for a sample size. All data collected was publicly available. We did not access individual and/or private information. Over 1.5 million text files were analyzed using our Artificial Intelligence Engine and crawler, mediasphere360. Human verification of data was applied. The data was collected from June 2010 to December 21st, 2010.

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