Grandma Loves Facebook… But Does She Like it?

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In the world of Facebook marketing, trends and new groups are being periodically targeted as “the next demographic to explode on Facebook.” Two years ago, everyone talked endlessly about the upcoming wave of senior citizens who were taking to Facebook like a fish to water. Naturally, the next question on everyone’s mind was: Will older people interact with brands on Facebook?

In a word, yes. Two years following the senior social media boom (as well as the Betty White-ification of the Internet), Facebook is still a senior’s playground. A study from SocialCode that came out over the summer found that Facebook users over the age of 50 are 28 percent more likely to click an ad within Facebook than younger people. A recent giveaway from Wal-Mart awarded a senior center a new technology suite specifically designed so clients of the center could use email and Facebook. And many senior organizations are even offering classes on how to use social media.

Yet this explosion hasn’t translated to page “likes.” The same study from SocialCode notes that Facebook users who are 50 years old or older are nine times less likely to like a brand… even after they’ve clicked on its ad. Even the Betty White-endorsed AARP has only rung in a little over 80,000 likes on its Facebook page, while its actual membership is estimated to be in the 40 million-plus neighborhood.

So what gives? If this is one of the most powerful age groups on Facebook, why don’t they interact with brands?

Perhaps we overestimated the senior social media boom and what they use Facebook for. While we hate to stereotype, we think the 410,000 monthly users of Bingo on Facebook is more indicative of what older people really do online. All kidding aside, seniors admit to using the site to share photos, keep in touch with family and play games. Connecting with brands doesn’t even make their top five.

So does that mean we marketers should leave grandma alone with her Angry Birds and forget trying to get her to like our brands? Tell us, readers, in the comments section below!

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