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BRANDmas: Senior Citizens are Taking to Social Media
By: Jennifer Stack
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Crowdsourced Urbandictionary.com defines a “Brandma” as a “A tired old brand that buys creative young upstarts to stay relevant.” However, the term has taken on a new meaning in the digital space as brandmas now represent senior citizens active on brand’s social media pages and in the digital space. As a result of an increasingly tech savvy youth, digital integration in day-to-day life, and the sheer convenience the Internet provides, many baby boomers and members of the silent generation have taken to the online world in waves recently. Brandmas are everywhere these days, and the technology businesses are taking notice, preparing user-friendly devices for communication like this newly introduced Swedish phone and “Experience” interface, specifically designed for seniors.
This is evidenced by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) senior advisor Tammy Gordon proclaiming, “Our members are more consumers than producers,” when asked about how AARP members use social media. “[Our members] are connecting with their peers through… really robust comment threads, with regular commenters. This wasn’t happening a year ago, and now we have 15,000 people on our Facebook Page — and we expect this number to increase significantly.” Furthermore, Social Media Today reported statistics showing that 22% of all grandparents in the UK use social networks; 71% of that group use Facebook, 34% are tweeting, and 9% are available to connect on LinkedIn. This highlights the senior presence on all of the mainstream social networks.
While the elderly are experimenting with mainstream popular social networks, they also have the newly created option of a niche social network (emphasizing their age and genial status) Grandparents.com, Inc., a self-described as a “premier social media website for the 21st century generation of active, involved grandparents. “ As more and more of the generation make their presence known online, more and more companies and marketers will cater to them specifically via platforms and messaging as it is an opportunity to connect consumers and profit.
A recent report by dosomething.org state that “social networking use among Internet users ages 50+ has more than doubled between 2009 and 2011.” This statistic will only increase as technology infrastructure and user experiences evolve, people adapt, and tech-savvy generations become older. The bottom line is that the elderly have embraced social media and are now available to be communicated with on this platform. Due to their recent rapid adoption rate of the digital space, there is limited noise and critical mass achieved by the target. Marketers who choose to utilize this access point to distribute messaging and embark on dialogue with the seniors will be successful, according to the blue ocean strategy. Only a select few brands are catering to this older demographic in the social networking space, and consequently there is a lot of room for brand-created content that is age targeted.

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About the Author
Jennifer Stack is a Social Media Strategist at a digital advertising agency. She was a 2011 Notable.ca YP Social Media Finalist. International Marketing Communication, MA. International Marketing Strategy, MSc. LinkedIn + Twitter.
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