A new report from Forrester Research revealed some surprising information: apparently Baby Boomers aren't exactly the technology Luddites that people think they are. In fact, more than 60 percent of those in this generational group actively consume socially created content like blogs, videos, podcasts, and forums. What's more, the percentage of those participating is on the rise.
In 2007, the percentage of Boomers consuming social media was 46% for Younger Boomers (ages 43 to 52) and 39% for Older Boomers (ages 53 to 63). By 2008, those number increased to 67% and 62%, respectively.
The number of Boomers reacting to content posted online, as opposed to just passively consuming it, is also trending upwards. For example, the proportion of Older Boomers reacting to content doubled from 15% in 2007 to 34% in 2008. According to Forrester, this is now a percentage that's high enough to target this group with a social application.
Joining social networks is also becoming a widely popular among the Younger Boomers. Today, almost one in four Younger Boomers are active in social networks, up from 15% in 2007.
The one thing that Boomers are less likely to do in the online world is actually create content - outside of updating their online profiles and leaving blog comments, that is. Boomers are still not involved heavily in writing blog articles or creating videos and posting them online. In 2008, 16% Younger Boomers were involved in content creation (up from 12% in 2007) and 15% of Older Boomers did so (up from 8%). Although both groups saw an increase, it's still the least popular activity.
What This Means
For companies wanting to reach out to the Baby Boomers online, this data shows that spending at least a portion of your budget on social applications for the group isn't entirely a waste of time and money. The group isn't as active online as younger generations are, but their participation levels are now moderate and increasing.
The best bets for getting Boomers interested in your content is to create blogs or videos that relate to the life or work-style of Boomers, Forrester suggests. And if you're looking for feedback and contributions from the Boomers themselves - like comments or criticisms - make that process dead simple. Don't introduce overly complex sign up forms or processes. Instead, encourage low-effort contributions such as star ratings.
Marketers can also look into reaching Boomers through social networks now - specifically those favored by this generation like Classmates Online, Eons, BOOMj.com, TeeBeeDee, and even the AARP's online community. There is some participation in these social spaces now, but even more growth is expected over the next 12-month period.