It can be argued that over 50s are one of the final demographics not to be very well understood in terms of their relational social media behaviour with brands.

In the very early years of social, very few begged to ask the question or look into how brands can engage older consumers. It was assumed that they weren’t on the channels at all. 

And then the reports started coming through; the ‘Silver Surfers’ (a term I’ve always found slightly patronising) were flocking in droves! It’s a topic the Econsultancy has touched on before in a post looking at six design tips for making your website senior friendly.

But, like a horse without a cart, no one really nailed how to reach them in any meaningful way. 

What is it about this group of people that makes it so difficult to understand how they interact (if at all) with brands on social networks?

It’s important to note that social behaviour does not necessarily mean online behaviour (search, shopping, time spent, etc). A particularly thorough Kantar Media TGI Clickstream study showed over 50s as being ‘practical’ in their online habits.  

They are online for specific reasons, browsing the same few sites for research and looking up products based on recommendations from friends. It begs the question: is it worth targeting such a pragmatic audience on social channels if they’re not interested in the fluff?

It depends on what you’re trying to get out of them. 

If it’s quality, positive engagement between person and brand, all signs point to disappointment. The recent closure of Saga’s own social network for abusive bullying and resourcing issues, Sagazone, is testament to that.

However, if it’s a chance to position your brand front and centre for awareness, we potentially have something to work with.

With Facebook and Twitter offering increasingly more intelligent platforms for biddable targeting, marketers have more a chance than ever to at least have their content seen by their target audiences.

A strong, relevant content strategy will help reinforce the messaging. Seven released figures last year showing 57% of British adults feel more positive towards brands who generate content aimed specifically for them.

As with any strategy, there will always be a few issues. While we can ensure the content is being seen by the right age demographic, there’s not much in the way of sentiment tracking. A passive audience is not always a positive audience. 

Ironically, when targeting an older demographic with current social platforms, marketers must look at more traditional methods of measurement. Success cannot hang solely on Facebook reach numbers alone.