Generational Trends: Marketing to Baby Boomers on Social Media

Brent Barnhart

January 30, 2018

Brent Barnhart

January 30, 2018

 If you’re marketing to baby boomers, you might want to rethink how you’re presenting your content and brand as a whole.

While meme marketing and humorous content might click with millennials, boomers on social media have their own quirks when it comes to engaging with content.

But that doesn’t mean you can afford to discount older generations from your campaigns.

That’s why we’ve broken down why boomers are such a valuable demographic and what they want to see from brands today.

Why Bother with Boomers, Anyway?

Despite their stigma as an “out-of-touch” generation in terms of marketing and tech, there’s more to boomers than that. Consider the following stats:

Boomers represent well over 50% of Australia’s wealth, signaling their spending power over younger generations.

Boomers spend more time (and money) on technology than any other generation, likewise representing some of the savviest ecommerce customers. In fact, 70% of boomers report making at least one purchase from Amazon monthly.

Boomers overwhelmingly see technology and social media as having a positive impact on their lives. In short, the older crowd doesn’t shy away from the evolution of the Internet - they embrace it.

The takeaway? Boomers are a potentially lucrative demographic for marketers at large, partially due to their higher than average disposable income.

Open-minded, always connected and more than happy to spend, the stereotype of boomers as technologically illiterate has largely been debunked.

Where Are Boomers Hanging Out?

The good news for marketers? Boomers’ favorite social hangout isn’t much of a mystery.

Facebook.

The answer is always Facebook, isn’t it?

Boomers make up a massive portion of Facebook’s 1.3+ billion daily active users. With 15.5% spending well over 11 hours per week engaging with content on Facebook, the platform is a prime place for marketers looking to reach older generations.

baby boomers 1-1Source: Smallbiztrends.com

Why? Because Facebook provides boomers on social media with exactly what they want from the Internet, all in one place.

The ability to communicate with friends and family. Somewhere to sound off with their opinions and take in the latest news. It’s all there in black and white.

On the flip side, you’re not going to find many boomers on social media messing around with the latest Snapchat filter or posting holiday selfies on Instagram. These sorts of networks are fast-moving and more mobile-focused, making them less intuitive to boomers.

But Facebook isn’t the only place where boomers are spending their time.

A staggering 95% of boomers use email on a regular basis. This makes boomers prime candidates for newsletter opt-ins and ecommerce email that put your brand directly into their inboxes.

Additionally, access to more email addresses makes it easy to both learn more about your boomer base and target to them later (think: retargeted Facebook ads).

One place where boomers traditionally aren’t hanging is via mobile. Preferring traditional desktops to the likes of smaller screens, boomer brands need not concern themselves so much with mobile optimization. Boomers actually represent the demographic least likely to make purchases while on-the-go.

What Types of Content Do Boomers Want to See?

Curiously enough, boomers are the generation most likely to share content.

And so the more likely you are to craft messages that speak to boomers, the more shares you can score.

Boomers are an aging demographic. Their taste in content reflects this, with many boomers on Facebook following pages related to the following topics:

Travel
Politics
Finance
Insurance

In short, boomers are concerned with their health, wealth and leisure, not fashion trends or “the next big thing.”

baby boomers popular facebook stats 2
Source: Social Bakers

Boomers are opinionated. The popularity of Australian politicians on Facebook clues us in on how boomers have no problem putting their beliefs on their sleeves. Not afraid to be shamed for their opinions, boomers love to take a stance on a cause or issue at any turn.

most popular politicians australia 3

But how do you position your posts to tap into the opinionated nature of boomers?

Question-based content such as quizzes or opinion-pieces are a brilliant start. Consider posts which spark debate and discussion such as this one from Medibank.

Medibank example 4

Open-ended questions or content that could be perceived as “controversial”or up for debate can really get boomers talking. Check out how World Nomads takes the conversation a step further by asking even more questions of their fans:

World Nomads example 4

In short, baby boomers marketing means approaching your content as a sort of conversation.

Beyond blog posts and written pieces, consider that boomers are the most likely to share visual content such as images and videos as well. Not totally unlike millennials, there’s a time and place for bite-sized video content such as this clip from Bupa Australia.

But although baby boomers and younger audiences aren’t from different planets, there are some key differences marketers should keep in mind.

Marketing to Baby Boomers vs. Millennials

For starters, boomers have more time and patience for long-form content. They’re willing to dig deep on a brand or product before taking action.

Marketing trends note that boomers will spend more time on a piece of content before making a purchase decision, for example. They aren’t afraid of long-form blog posts or sales videos that go in-depth on whatever they’re researching.

Compare that to millenials who are juggling multiple social sites while sharing and consuming content at a rate that can be difficult to keep up with.

And on that note, boomers aren’t exactly glued to communities such as Reddit or 9GAG.  While they might share the occasional meme, marketers can’t exclusively rely on humor or inside jokes with boomers. Don’t expect for them to giggle at your emojis.

The takeaway here? Watch your tone.

Playful content and “tag a mate” posts are perfect for marketing for millennials, but boomers prefer an old-school discussion or debate.

This marks arguably the biggest difference between online marketing to baby boomers versus millennials.

Speed.

Think of boomers as taking a “slow and steady” approach to content and marketing. One thing at a time. They’ll take action, but only after they’ve thought for a bit.

Meanwhile, millenials are moving at a mile a minute.

What Do Boomers Mean for Your Brand?

To wrap this up, let’s give boomers a bit of credit.

They represent a bridging generation with technology, after all. They set the groundwork for the modern web we know and love.

Although they may not be the speediest typers or biggest fans of the touchscreen, they are open to possibilities of technology and marketing. They don’t mind being sold to and are more than willing to engage with brands that speak their language.

Whereas marketing to cynical millennials or traditionally tech-savvy can be like banging your head against a brick wall, boomers can be surprisingly open-minded.

Reaching boomers doesn’t mean a total overhaul of your marketing strategies, but rather some small tweaks in branding and messaging.

And if you’re trying to tap into a boomer audience right now, feel free to reach out to one of our social media consulting experts to see how we can help!

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