If you’re reading this blog, you have most likely been asking yourself “How do I market on social media to older generations?” Think about the last time you used social media – what type of images did you see? Chances are they were aspirational, and if they featured people, they would have been young and good looking. So why aren’t older people well represented in the media?
We’ve taken the opportunity to share a summary of an event we attended at the most recent Social Media Week Bristol looking at “How do I market on social media to perennials? Social media and the 50+ consumer.” Let us know what you think too …
“One of my bugbears is that I don’t look at travel websites or social media feeds and see people who look like me,” says travel blogger and publisher Heather Cowper. “Instead I’m faced with lots of inspirational travel shots of young people doing yoga poses or standing at the top of a mountain – but that doesn’t inspire me. The imagery is always aimed at a millennial market – even for cruises, which are very often enjoyed by older people.”
And yet, there’s a definite market to tap into when it comes to the older generations. Not only is the population ageing (21% of the UK population is now aged 65+ – up from 16% in 2007) – but the 45-65 age group also have the highest disposable income. It’s a marketer’s dream, and yet it’s a demographic that is often sidelined.
Why is the 50+ demographic ignored in marketing?
This was a question that kicked off the panel debate, and one suggestion is that many people creating marketing campaigns are in their 30s or younger and just aren’t in touch with this age group.
Fiona Weller, Creative Partner at True Digital, says that the insight and data into this age group is lacking too. “The problem is that all people aged 50+ are lumped into one group. You can target 13 to 17 year-olds, but when you get to 50 and over there’s differentiation when it comes to targeting,” she explains.
This means it’s important to delve deeper into interest groups – after all, if you’re keen on art it doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80.
Steve Manser is the Senior Marketing Manager at SunLife, a company that has worked hard to represent older people authentically, without resorting to stereotypes. He spends time on forums and using tools such as AnswerThePublic to tap into the interests and pain points of this generation. “Younger people are more interested in curating their own content, whereas this age group are more likely to watch how to guides and use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family,” he explains.
If you’re wondering which channels to focus on when planning a campaign for people over 50, there’s no doubt that you should start with Facebook. Newsweek reported that 500,000 over 55s joined Facebook in 2018 alone and 6.4 million over 50s were the second biggest demographic on the platform.
How to be authentic and move away from the cliché
- Uses forums such as Gransnet to check the language and tone of your marketing rings true
- Feature real people in your imagery and videos, and stay away from stock imagery that is overly aspirational
- Show real people doing real things – that includes disabilities and illnesses
- Feature multigenerations in your imagery – this is very rare to see, but a great way of representing real life
- Look to other successful campaigns, such as #Notbymyselfie by Age UK, Good Gym and SunLife’s recent marketing campaign with older people doing ballet, BMXing and tattoos
- Ask for opinions – engage properly and learn from the responses you get
- Be mobile-friendly – 73% use their smartphones on a daily basis
- Don’t ignore video – 70% say they watch online videos
What’s the future of social media for the over 50s?
The discussion ended with a spot of future gazing to see what might be important for this age group moving forwards. The first trend that was noted was the importance of voice, as Alexa is already starting to replace the iPad as the device of choice for this age group.
“We’ve got 15 years to hit this generation – the next older generation won’t have so much money,” advises Jane Silk, Head of Research and Training at Silver Travel Advisor. “In future, we’ll need to target people through their previous job titles rather than just by age to know whether they have a decent disposable income.”
Fiona Weller suggests that targeting may also need to be done through their children, as they are often looking for solutions for their parents as they get older. On the flipside, they may also be the ‘late adopters’, so what’s big for millennials now may be booming for older people in the next decade. “Many parents start using social channels to stalk their teenage children, and then end up adopting the platform themselves,” she says.
Read more about our experiences at Social Media Week Bristol here.