I have many friends in the Baby Boomer category. Those whose businesses aren’t technology-related seem to be fairly uninterested in social networks. Granted sites like MySpace (with its crazed graphics overload) and Facebook (with its university inception) haven’t made Boomers feel quite at home in the social networking world.
But things they are a’ changin’.
Sure, marketers need not target Boomers directly. Instead, they can be honing today’s consumers who will someday become more stable, affluent middle-agers. As for present-day Boomers, social marketing can reach them mostly circuitously – if a campaign creates enough buzz it will spread to Boomers and if a site ranks highly, its visibility will increase and Boomers will find the site/product more easily.
But there are others who see great potential in, and are specifically targeting, baby boomers.
“So far elders have been an untapped market, and it appears, one that is ripe for advertisers.” writes Kristina Knight on Bizreport.com, and they do more shopping online than any other demographic. Global public relations firm Weber Shandwick discovered that “companies can gain a significant competitive advantage by creating marketing programs that target baby boomers’ expansive relationship networks.”
Some are quick to get in on the action.
Eons is a social network (from Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor) which bills itself as “Your online gathering place for people lovin’ life on the flip side of 50!”. It invites Boomers to post blogs within the site, make “new friends and reconnect with old ones” and get advice on a wide array of Boomer-geared topics (including health and parent/elder care). Visitors can search for their friends (match their Outlook or similar address book contacts to the database) before signing up. Further, it offers them the option of playing “brain building games” (likely influenced by the Boomer popularity of Nintendo’s ”Brain Age”), contests which are sponsored by Boomer-focused companies. So far the site’s popularity appears to be steadily increasing.
Personal Life Media is a podcast and blog ad network which claims that those 50-year olds are “ripe for an Internet-delivered content experience with the ethos of mind, body, soul and heart integration” and aims to expose its audience to “music, ideas and stories that will broaden your purview on love, sex, green living, cool trends, new beauty concepts, great music, anti-aging, global consciousness, personal transformation and more”.
Another site with similar base target is Growing Bolder. Initially, however, I’m not too impressed by its pre-site. (Then again, I’m not the target, so I guess I don’t have to be.) I find it way too pushy and it asks Boomers (who tend to be very cautious about privacy) for their email address, without being clear on what the site will offer.
All in all, it certainly appears that the Boomer generation can be “brought into the conversation”. Just make sure you’re speaking their language.