When we think of the most avid users of social media and social networking, the image that comes to mind is probably that of a tech-savvy 20-something.

It’s well-known that Gen Y has led the adoption of many of today’s most popular social media services but is it really correct to assume that Gen Y is still leading the social media pack?

According to Accenture’s latest Consumer Electronics Usage Survey, the answer is: no.

The fastest growing users of social media are now baby boomers, while it appears that Gen Y may be suffering from a bout of social media fatigue.

Accenture reports that boomers are:

  • Reading more blogs and listening to more podcasts. Usage grew to 28% from 18% last year.
  • Watching and posting more videos online. 36% of boomers are now doing this, up from 26% last year.
  • Using social networks at a greater clip. 28% are now on them; only 18% were on them in 2008.

Meanwhile, Gen Y’s use of social media seems to have plateaued. Gen Y blog and podcast consumption grew by less than 1% year-over-year, social network use grew by only 2% and video consumption/uploading actually dropped by 2%.

Accenture concludes that “generation Y’s cravings for consumer technology
applications are leveling
” while more boomers are getting acquainted with technology for a variety of reasons, including necessity.

Obviously, this data has a number of implications for marketers:

  • Social media is becoming a viable platform for reaching ‘older‘ consumers. Usage is now at a level at which meaningful numbers can be targeted.
  • Developing social media marketing campaigns is inevitably going to become more complex. If marketers thought that social media was all about Gen Y and that they could tailor their campaigns on social networks accordingly, they’re going to need to rethink that notion.
  • As more boomers start using social media, the ROI realized from social media campaigns may shift. Social media marketing has taken a lot of flack over ROI issues. But as more and more boomers use these services, that may change as boomers tend to have more disposable income than their Gen Y counterparts and more importantly, their perceptions about advertising may oftentimes be less jaded.

Photo credit: mydearDelilah via Flickr.