Focusing on the social media channels that create meaningful online engagement for your audience should be your focus in 2016 as mature audience marketers. In this post, we’ll give you the high-level ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down’ on how different channels are working, and what you need to consider before jumping in with both feet.
A Word of Caution
What you will read below is somewhat generalized—always take the time to analyze what works for your particular audience. Some platforms may be bad for targeting your consumer, but great for another one of your stakeholders. The bottom line is, know your buyer journey, and engage with them intelligently.
Facebook is the top of the list when it comes to engagement in social media for mature markets. In the right hands, Facebook’s audience targeting capabilities are some of the strongest out there—even for targeting boomers and seniors. I keep hearing people in our industry say older adults are not worth spending the money on when advertising on Facebook, but our company keeps defying those expectations for our clients—consistently beating Facebook advertising benchmarks. So if someone is telling you, “Facebook is not worth it for older adults,” you may need to question the manner in which they have approached their ad campaigns. In addition, Facebook’s mature market audience is its fastest growing, with the powerful (but often overlooked) older female consumer being particularly engaged.
Twitter is not one of our first picks when it comes to engaging with mature consumers. If you can muster engagement around a #hashtag, you can see some limited success, but we do not see this channel growing or performing effectively overall for the mature marketing campaigns we create. It’s great for news and event organizations, and we have used it in the past. But it’s hit & miss with the ad engine and takes a lot of effort for little return. Running Twitter campaigns does let you target hashtags and topics, but if your consumer is not using Twitter to talk about your topic, it doesn’t really matter. We have found that Twitter has been a poor platform for our senior care continuum clients when engaging the consumer, but it can sometimes be leveraged successfully for other stakeholder groups (such as referral providers or health professionals). What you need to determine is which of your audiences Twitter can be used for, and if the investment of time and money makes sense for the size of the potential audience on this platform.
LinkedIn may be showing profit as a social network, but they are behind the curve from an ad targeting and engagement standpoint—at least when you’re targeting consumers. Success can be had from a hiring or HR perspective, but if you’re targeting hourly senior care workers, you’ll have a hard time finding the numbers you need. We think any company should have a LinkedIn presence, but it’s at the bottom of the list when it comes to targeting mature consumers—so for now we are steering clear.
Pinterest received a lot of press in 2015 and for good reason—the site continued to experience fast growth while other major platforms slowed down. Additionally, they have been wise in limiting participation in its advertising platform thus far (there is a waitlist), while they figure out a model that works for both its user base and its advertisers. One opportunity is that the user base is predominantly female, a good portion of which is the powerful boomer consumer. And Pinterest is great for brand engagement—but it’s not right for every brand. A lot of brands make the mistake of feeling they “have to be on Pinterest” since it is a major player. If you think Pinterest could be a good vehicle for advertising to your audience, start by testing different types of imagery and seeing what sticks. Once you have a good sense for that—get on the waitlist for advertising.
When used properly, YouTube is a great channel for targeting the older consumer. Being a visual and potentially more emotional medium, YouTube is absorbed well by aging adults (who become more visual, sensory, and emotional thinkers as they age). Older adults are also more likely to sit patiently through a video than a younger one (in user testing, we often see older adults take their finger away from the mouse while watching videos, while younger users have their finger ready to click away at a moment’s notice). On top of all that, add in Google’s ridiculously strong audience targeting capabilities, and it makes YouTube an attractive channel to add to your advertising campaigns to older consumers.
Houzz, a niche home improvement channel, follows a similar model to Pinterest and is mainly a visual experience. We do think there is a potentially great marketing opportunity for aging-in-place products and services, such as durable goods and home accessibility remodeling (universal design). But remember, it is a young, niche platform, so experiment wisely and find your sea legs before diving in. You should give yourself time to get familiar with how to engage the consumer properly before spending any of your budget.
Although Instagram is a growing site, it simply lacks a critical mass of mature market consumers. We are in a hopeful wait-and-see mode with this one, especially since Instagram is owned by Facebook.
Social Media Marketing for the Mature Markets
If you take away nothing else from this article, it’s this: 1) don’t make assumptions about how older adults use social media, and 2) test how to best engage your audience (or do pilot campaigns) before spending large portions of your campaign budget on a social platform.