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Ready or Not, Here They Come: Boomers in Social Networking

Ready or not, generations X and Y, here come the Baby Boomers straight into the world of social networking! You can either prepare your association for them or not (and then experience the heartache of a lost demographic).

You've read the headlines, and despite what your internal readership surveys might say, it's probably a safe bet that even if you work at an association with a more mature membership you're still going to need to get ready for the next wave of social-media users.

The number of Baby Boomers (born between 1943 and 1960) using social media increased by 88 percent in the last year. Almost half of all Boomers are now on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking service. And according to a recent Pew Study, the group of social media users age 65 and older has grown 100 percent; a much faster rate than those stereotypically thought of as being "connected online."

So what does this tell us young professionals in the association community? Get ready for some social-media outreach to your older audience, even if you think your core demographic isn't on Facebook or Twitter yet. Because they will be, and soon!

According to an ASAE survey, 57 percent of associations are already involved in some type of social media outreach. Awesome! But if you're part of the 43 percent who aren't there yet, start working on your strategy now, and be prepared to make your case for social media to your president or board members, because despite age being a deterring factor for nearly half of users online, it's not going to stay this way forever. Don't believe me? Check out what AARP, the authority on mature audiences, has to say about Boomers online:

Have you already garnered a huge following of older adults on Twitter, or created an active community of engaged users for your more mature members? Share those tips and best practices, and help your fellow association professionals learn from your experience!

Chrisi West is web content manager at Military Officers Association of America in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a member of ASAE's Leadership Academy Class of 2011.

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Comments

Great post, Chrisi, and relevant for many associations whose members fall into the Boomer generation. We’re a bit unique at AARP given that our membership is defined by a demographic (age) as opposed to a trade or profession, and we’ve been able to do some really fun stuff with social media to interact with our members. There’s something really powerful about being able to directly connect with members and learn about the issues important to them through vehicles like facebook and twitter.

You guys at AARP really set the standard as to how to talk to and interact with mature adults online. Thanks for raising that bar a little for the rest of us, Beau!

Other associations with an older demographic could learn a lot from AARP.org, and its social media channels when it comes to community building, too.

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