The New York Times reported on December 26, 2010 that while the 18 to 33 age demographic is still predominant among internet usage, older age demographics are rapidly catching up. Adults 45 and over more than doubled their social networking use in the period between December 2008 and May 2010, but the most surprising gain came from adults 74 years and older -- this group quadrupled its social networking participation, with 16 percent of adults in this group now actively using social networking.
A similar report issued in November by AdvertisingAge points out another interesting piece of data: Baby Boomers who are caring for their aging parents are heavier internet users (among social networking sites like Facebook) than their non-caregiving counterparts. Laurel Kennedy, author of "The Daughter Trap" and president of Chicago-based consulting firm Age Lessons, estimates that approximately 15.5 million baby boomers are serving as caregivers out of the 78 million-strong boomer population.
The gender gap is nearly evenly split, with a slight edge towards women (60%, versus 40% men). This group spends an average of 150 minutes each month on social media and visits 70% more pages than the typical internet user. ComScore, which conducted research on behalf of Age Lessons, breaks down the top ten sites among Boomer Caregivers. It's not surprising that Facebook leads the pack, with a 91 percent reach. Among some online retailer sites (Amazon.com, Target, WalMart), LinkedIn has a 37% reach and Twitter a 21% reach.
One interesting discovery from comScore's research is that the online review site Yelp has a 30% reach among Boomer Caregivers, beating out Twitter. In our previous posts reporting on assisted living marketing and social networking use, Yelp never entered the conversation as a most-used site for either internet users or marketers. Could this be an untapped resource for senior housing marketers? Possibly, if boomers are using Yelp to read reviews of health and medical providers and not merely to decide what restaurant to visit that evening. Only more in-depth research could tell for sure, but it's probably worth your time to monitor your presence on Yelp.
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