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Do Seniors Blog?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A few days ago I made the point that it’s not only the young and very young who participate in social media. Boomers and seniors do also. While I was sure it was a true statement, I was interested when I ran across some data on the behavior of older boomers and seniors. The first is from a Groundswell/Forrester post. Josh Bernoff points out that these two demographic groups are more skewed toward the Spectators Technographic segment than to the Creators. His advice: “help them out. Seed your networks and applications with content and make it effortless to respond. Seniors are a lot more likely to participate if you make the on-ramps easy to navigate.” That’s good advice for all target segments! Want to get a picture of how your target demographic scores on the Technographics? Try Forrester’s free data tool.

Interesting, but not surprising data. I kept looking and ran across a study by Ronni Bennett, owner of the As Time Goes By blog. Results were posted on her blog in five sections starting on May 5, 2008. As is the case with most Internet surveys her 402 respondents are self-selected from her readership, so the data only reflects over-50s who are active on the Internet. Pew data says that 72% of Americans 50 – 64 are on the net; it drops down to only 35% of those 65 and over. Ronni Bennett points out that almost 94 % of her respondents are White and 81% are women. So the data is skewed, even for the over-50 demographic, but it gives a fascinating glimpse of their activities.

Almost 88% read blogs, while “only” 54% publish one. The 63% who comment include the Creators, Critics and Collectors in the Forrester Technographics survey ladder (the Joiners seems to refer specifically to social networks, not blogs). It’s hard to compare a response percent to the index on the Forrester chart but they both show a high level of commenting or being a Critic. Interesting.

Respondents in the Elderblogger survey are active in a lot of categories. The number who list blogs and the number who say “banking” are both a surprise to me.

Other data reveals that over 69% visit blogs directly with almost 24% using RSS feeds and only 7% retail subscriptions. The RSS is not what I expected from this segment; the great majority who go directly to blogs suggest considerable reader loyalty. Almost 74% read blogs daily; again something of a surprise to me.

What are they looking for? Information and fun are the two top categories; tis may imply that these people have more time to just read for entertainment than some younger groups. There’s a pretty high level of socializing here too.

Elders are looking for useful content, entertaining content, and connectedness—and a surprising number are looking for it on the web. That’s something else that’s only going to grow in the coming years. Marketers need to connect with this group online!
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