There are 2 ‘camps’ of thought on this question and it depends who you ask as to what you’ll hear. From my experience dealing with people ranging in age from 20 to 60 plus, my observation is that social media is the playground for a mind set, not an age.
There are 20 and 30 year olds that barely know their way around a computer, while there are 60 year olds tweeting by the dozen. And visa-versa.
The one thing that is for certain is that social media is definitely not an optional strategy in business today. ALL the companies who are aggressively marketing are using it. And why not? It’s pretty mush low – or no cost and it is relatively easy to set up.
All the basic social media platforms are free. They make money from hosting advertisers who are targeting their users. WordPress for blogging: free. Facebook: free. Twitter: free. YouTube: free. MySpace: free. Social bookmarking such as Deliscious: free. Photo sites such as Flickr: free.
They’re all relatively simple to operate as well, albeit time consuming until you get the hang of it.
The thing that surprises me is when people dismiss it as a fad or a ‘waste of time’. Hmmm. I guess there were plenty who felt that way about the fax machine too. Still are many who feel that way about email. The fact is, all these tools have their uses and it’s up the users to control how and when they’re used. Big businesses such as Best Buy, Dell, Intel, SAP, Thompson Reuters and the like seem to think it worth while enough to subscribe to social media in a big way.
For those who feel that social media is simply a 20 or 30 something domain, take a look at the market and the statistics. The fastest growing group of active users on the internet – including social media venues – are baby boomers. Who said an old dog can’t learn new tricks. No, a lazy old dog won’t learn new tricks, but then, neither will a lazy young dog.
Techcrunch published a study citing the fact that the top 100 companies using social media increased profits by 18% over the first 12 months. Business Week recently published a guide ‘How executives should be using social media‘. Note: How executives should be using;… not ‘How executives could be using…’
According to Neilsen Online:
“Not Just For The Young
While social networks started out among the younger audience, they’ve become more mainstream
with the passage of time. Not surprisingly the audience has become broader and older. This shift has primarily been driven by Facebook whose greatest growth has come from people aged 35-49 years of age (+24.1 million). From December 2007 through December 2008, Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million).”
Another Neilson report shows that
670,000,000 out of 1 billion people online use social media. It shows that the use of social media is growing at three times the rate of general internet growth.
Some studies even suggest that the use of social media outranks email use and is the venue where 38% of people spend their time communicating online.
Other insights include:
- The biggest increase in use of social media sites in 2009 comes from those in between 35-49 years old .
- The increase in this group is 11.3 million people.
- There has been an increase of 7% of those 65 and older using social media
- Correspondingly, usage usage of social media by those aged 17-and-under dropped by 9 per cent
Like it or not, it seems that the statistics prove my point. Age is no excuse to opt out of social media as a viable business marketing strategy.
For those who’ve considered themselves ‘too old’ to take a natural interest, let me encourage you with the thought that learning new things as you grow older helps prevent alzheimers….