Baby Boomers and Social Media Usage

Since the creation of the Facebook in 2004, social media platforms have played a major role in the lives of millennials. Although at first social media seemed to only appeal to younger users, its mass usage and relevance in today’s society has led to an increasing number of users across all generations. As of April 2016, Facebook is the most popular social media platform and has amassed 1,590 million users worldwide. The generational breakdown of the usage of Facebook is typical of most others, with 84% of internet users ages 18-29 with an account. However, baby boomers are starting to hold a much larger social media presence than they have in the past. Among the online adults, 45% of people aged 65+ use Facebook and 60% of those in 50-64 year old demographic use Facebook. Baby boomers also spend 27 hours per week online. This is two more hours a week than millennials spend online.

Most baby boomers that use Facebook do so to connect with family and old friends. The community involvement aspect of social media highly appeals to the baby boomer generation and they are among the most likely users to share daily updates on life through social media. Baby boomers are also using social media as a way to find jobs and stay relevant in today’s highly competitive job market. 13% of internet users over the age of 65 use LinkedIn which is nearly the same rate as the 18-29 age group (15%).

Baby boomers are less likely to use other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. 5% of 65+ year olds adults online use Twitter as compared to 31% of 18-29 year olds. This could be in part to the lack of “community culture” on Twitter which seems to be a major draw to sites like Facebook. Instagram has the smallest percent of the baby boomers on it, with only 1% of 65+ online users having an Instagram account.

It’s important for companies to understand how different generations use social media so that they can find the most effective platforms to market to those different age groups. If a company wanted to sell to the baby boomer generation, Instagram would be the least effective method, although it would be highly effective for millennials. Even though millennials are the most present group online, the baby boomers still make up a significant portion of users and shouldn’t be ignored by marketers simply because of their age.

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3 thoughts on “Baby Boomers and Social Media Usage

  1. Hi Sara,
    Great insigths here. The social media use by 55+ may surprise some, but marketers wanting to reach this target audience should add social media to their marketing mix. Yet, it is not all channels. You make a great point at the end of the post that in social media marketing you much choose the right channel for the right target. For Baby Boomers marketers should look at Facebook, not Instagram. What might the right choice be for a different generations such as Gen X, Millennials (Gen Y) or Gen Z?
    Professor Quesenberry

  2. Nice post, Sara! When I was doing research, I also found it interesting that baby boomers use social media more than people think. With so many baby boomers using social media and smartphones today, do you think that companies should market/create more social media networks that appeal to baby boomers?

  3. Great post Sasha! I was also surprised when I found out that baby boomers were very active on social media. Most of them are active on Facebook like you said. How can platforms like Instagram and Snapchat make themselves more appealing to this generation?

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