digital seniors

Today’s consumer market is quite different than it was a decade ago: the large age group called the “baby boomers” are entering their golden years; more seniors are living by themselves than ever before and are therefore in charge of the household purchases; and, according to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, over 53 percent of Americans over the age of 65 regularly log on to PCs, laptops, and tablets. What does this mean for marketers and business-owners? Older, mature adults are a consumer base that should not be overlooked, and outdated advertising tactics are rapidly diminishing in effectiveness.

This population’s increased web traffic has resulted in a significant raise in the number of seniors with Facebook accounts. In fact, the use of social networking sites by this age group grew 150% in just two years. The report Digital Seniors states that, of the approximately 20 million seniors currently using the Internet, almost half of them are on Facebook.

How can marketers appeal to this untapped niche? Here are four ways that businesses can successfully reach seniors through their Facebook business pages, and examples of companies that are already on the right track.

  • Build a customer service platform. Providing content can’t be the only focus, as customer service is a key component of a business page. This was successfully highlighted in a recent post on Direct Marketing News in which the author consulted with Tammy Gordon, the director of social communications for the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP). Gordon explained that her team works closely with the company’s customer service department to ensure that social media queries receive an initial response within one hour. According to Gordon, AARP offers “a zone defense team that covers customers’ issues, and an engagement manager to talk to members.”
  • Provide relevant content. The most effective business pages provide quality content that pertains directly to seniors and their interests. Fall Alert, a provider of medical alert systems to seniors, is a prime example of how a company can connect with older adults through targeted content on their Facebook page. Instead of harping on about the products, the Facebook page provides visuals and texts that relate to the everyday lives of their audience with health and wellness articles about topics such as diabetes, nutrition and fire safety. Moreover, they also utilize entertainment and nostalgia to form an emotional bond with their audience and generate social media activity; they have consistently published “today in history” posts that highlight pivotal moments that seniors will remember and be spurred to discuss.
  • Form a community. Seniors make it a point to visit pages that help them keep in touch with their personal communities. Merrill Gardens, a leader in assisted living homes, has over 7,000 older adults living in over 50 communities. Residents of Merrill are encouraged to stay in touch with activities and events by checking posts on the Facebook page. Visitors can get details about Super Bowl parties, cooking classes, and art shows. Merrill also tracks visitors who are looking for homes for their parents. These visitors double as marketing leads down the road.
  • Attract an audience with images, videos, and stories. Business pages with eye-catching photos and videos are much more attractive than those that only include text. Senior Helpers, a national leader in professional home assistance services, has numerous photos of clients, employees, and special events. They also include heartwarming stories such as the one about an elderly couple that took photos of themselves at the same spot every season.

With seniors using Facebook in record numbers, marketers have a great opportunity to reach them directly. However, it’s not enough just to have a Facebook business page. By utilizing these suggestions, businesses can make the most out of their marketing plans.

Photo by Shutterstock/Goodluz.

Originally posted by Dane Carlson on February 11, 2014 in Guest Posts.

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