Move over – Grandma’s the one speeding down the information superhighway.
Before gearing content to the age demographic you assume to be the stereotypical gray-haired, bespectacled grandparent, you need to know what makes a senior citizen senior.
According to the legal definition, this population consists of “elderly persons, usually more than 60 or 65 years of age.” By including age 60, this statement strays from the old Social Security “full retirement age” mark of 65.
Expanding the demographic even further: Many senior centers throughout the country accept 50-year-olds for activities and events. Also, most senior living communities begin allowing residents to move in at age 55, and that doesn’t include their potentially younger spouses.
So the senior age-range means your target audience, at 50-plus, is much wider than you may have thought. Also surprising is exactly how Internet savvy these Baby Boomers and their older relatives are.
According to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of those age 50 to 64 use social media, as do 49 percent of those 65 and older. Even more relevant is what types of social media seniors are using. In Pew’s most recent Social Media Update, where 2,003 adults were interviewed via telephone, 63 percent of those grouped in the age 50-64 age category use Facebook, as do 56 percent in the 65-plus category.
Also, 27 percent of 50-to-64-year-olds and 17 percent of those age 65 and older use Pinterest, and 30 and 21 percent are on LinkedIn. However, the numbers are far lower for Twitter and Instagram, at 12 percent and lower for both age groups.
So, besides liking friends and family on Facebook, what else are seniors looking at for news, education and entertainment?
Brace yourself: They watch videos. According to the survey Google sponsored, “Reaching Today’s Boomers and Seniors Online,” using market research company Ipsos, “Over half of boomers and seniors watch online video, with YouTube reported as the preferred site with 82% of video watchers using it.” The study found three out of four seniors viewing these videos take further action afterward, including searching online for more information and clicking or forwarding links. Seniors’ top concerns are senior advocacy, staying active, government programs, health and finance.
Next up: Getting grandma to use smartphone apps. According to an article by Monica Anderson for Pew Research, older folks are already on their way, with 27 percent of those 65 and older owning smartphones, mostly for connecting with others.
However, with smartphone usage on the rise among seniors, the natural evolution will be to get their content the same way young folks do. Says Anderson: “…(O)lder Americans who are internet adopters tend to have highly positive attitudes about the impact of online access on their lives, including the access that smartphones give them.”