Saw an interesting article today from an author who is skeptical about whether Boomers are embracing social media as much as the buzz would have you believe. The author argues that
1. while Boomers are embracing Facebook in increasing numbers, overall the penetration is still very small compared to younger consumers 13% for over 45 compared to 60% for 18-34. It is a classic example of “fastest growing” versus largest.
2. Boomers don’t want Boomer focused social media. While hindsight is 20/20, I would say, “duh.” Boomers are too large and wide to be an affinity group. That’s like trying to build an affinity group for people who own a TV. “You own one too? No kidding?”
3. Another interesting tidbit is the theory that older people tend to be more selective in their relationships as they grow older. That makes sense to me. As people age they feel like they have “seen it all before.” The older we all get, the less time we have for wasted activities of any kind. So friend-wise, let’s spend our time on relationships we know will pay off.
But beyond all that, remember Everett Rogers’ theory “Diffusion of Innovations.”
(This is such a useful concept I remember the day I learned about it in undergrad!)
Essentially, for new technologies and ideas, “Innovators” and “Early Adopters” embrace the earliest. They tend to be younger, more upscale and thought leaders. Next come the “Early Majority” who adapt more slowly than their predecessors. Lastly comes “Late Majority” and “Laggards.” The later groups are older and more downscale, and have little opinion leadership.
So, late adoption by older Boomers would be absolutely expected. I don’t have access to Facebook’s data, but I would bet that most of the Boomers who are already on Facebook are much more upscale than average.
My take on social media is that it will fundamentally change our society in ways we cannot yet foretell.
Just like the early days of the Internet, people are predicting too much too fast in the short term, but UNDERESTIMATING the impact in the long term.
It is an exciting time to be a marketer, and I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.