Baby Boomers and Technology | A David Creation

Posted by | April 16, 2011 | Small Biz Talk | 6 Comments

Is your service business using Social Media yet? Or are you still wondering if it is worth the effort to blog, post, tweet and connect online? Many high-end service contractors work primarily for the Baby Boomer generation. These consumers can typically afford to have their houses painted, geothermal units installed or large custom kitchens remodeled. However, many contractors wonder if their Baby Boomer clientele spends much time online, especially on the Social Media networks. They pose a good question, “Should our company invest the time it takes to be online when many of our customers don’t even know how to use Social Media?

Readers vs. Contributors

The next time you jump on a train, wait for your a flight or spend time in a sitting lounge, take a look around: How many people between the ages of 50 and 65 (and even older) are using iPhones, iPads and other techie gadgets? It often outnumbers the younger users with expensive toys. My parents, who are in their sixties, recently purchased a couple of Apples iTouches and an iPad, and I am amazed at how quickly they are learning to use these devices. My mom even knows how to Facetime, and my dad is considering tossing his “old” Blackberry for the new iPhone! And among their peers, my parents are not alone.

I spoke recently with someone in a Baby Boomer ad agency and he gave me good insight into the current net usage trends: Boomers connect with the online world starting just as readers. In other words, they get on Facebook and subscribe to blogs and read the material that interests them, but they typically do not spend a lot of time contributing. The contributors tend to be the young generation at this point. As business owners using Social Media, we want feedback. We want contributors so that we know we are on the right track. However, getting Baby Boomers to write a review, leave a comment or share our online information may not be a reality at this stage. On an encouraging note, I spoke with a major contributor of Amazon.com’s product reviews, (in her mid 40’s) who said most of the people buying from Amazon and leaving reviews are between 40 and 65. I believe this is because Amazon made reviews what they are today and has had long-term clients who learned how to write a review. Once they learned how easy it was, they started doing it. It is just a matter of time before these same people will branch out and become more active on the other “social” sites.

Don’t be Discouraged

So if the Baby Boomers read more than they contribute at this point, what should a contractor do? Don’t get discouraged, but embrace Social Media marketing. The fastest growing Social Media subgroup right now is the Baby Boomer audience, and you have the advantage if you are prepared for them. The easier things are to use, the more you’ll see them getting involved, even if they do remain more readers than contributors. Having readers is fantastic! Hook them with your content so they want to read more–keep writing good blogs, creating good posts and tweets, and uploading photos and videos. If you have them reading, it will often turn into a lead and hopefully a long-term client.

Finally, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Make your website ready for the Baby Boomers and mobile users.

What do you think? If you are a Boomer reading this, how do you use Social Media? If you don’t want to comment below, hmmm…maybe call me up or send me an email.

Side note: many of my clients don’t comment on my blogs or post much because they are in that same 40-65 age range… but now and then they’ll mention to me that they read and appreciated a particular post.

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.

6 Comments

  • Mike says:

    Here is one Boomer who will comment, although I doubt I do so with the frequency of younger internet surfers. I have found Twitter (I am @mikewhitworth) to be very useful for staying on top of information in my areas of interest. I do not use facebook because there is no way to separate family, friends, and work associates. However, I find the ‘anywhere’ tech (smartphones, tablet computing, the internet) to be increasingly useful. So much so that I dusted off my antiquated programing skills and started programming iPhone apps so as to not be left behind in the ‘anywhere’ trend. My first app is Cost Then (yes, it is on the Apple app store) and uses historical inflation data to calculate what things used to cost. It has been fun to look at what the trends have been and where we might be headed (that part will be an app update).

    I think Boomers embrace the internet and mobile technology mostly for what we can accomplish with it. Although some of us play games (there is one I really like on iPad), I think most of our time on the internet, mobile and chained to the desk, is spent using tech to accomplish things, learn, and to make life easier. I suspect many Boomers are already quietly embracing the anywhere trend and most of the rest will soon follow.

  • David says:

    @Mike

    Mike I think you are right on! Thanks for stopping by and for the comment! I am on Twitter typically 1-2x a day myself. Typically I use it to see what is going on. I do not engage much on there. I use Facebook for that. When you say you can’t separate family, friends and work on Facebook…that use to be the case. But as of February 2011…you can. You should check it out. Facebook to me is a little less busy and easy to communicate with people. Let me know if you give it another stab. BTW, question, what about buying and research online…do you think most Boomers do this? Also do you think they use smartphones to do the research now?

  • Anne says:

    Great article.

    I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and, as a boomer myself who is very computer literate (27 years) and have several sites of my own, I find it really hard to like Facebook and think of it as a timewaster. On the other hand, I do look at it when I want to see what my nephews and nieces are up to. The privacy problem irks me and I find separation of different parts of my life essential so even though you mention the change as of Feb 2011 I’m not sure that I trust Facebook – it was so reckless early on.

    I use Twitter to do some online marketing and pass on a bit of philosphy and find it quite powerful. It really has a life of its own and people keep signing on to follow me. I’m sure I’m not that fascinating but it does call attention to my work each time I create something new.

    I have always said I prefer reading actual books and now I have a Kindle. I find myself using it most nights in bed because it is so eay to hold with its small size – I can even just rest it on a pillow. I like landscape orientation. I would prefer it be in color so certain books I might be interested in could offer illustrations. I am warming up to this technology.

    I love using Dragon Naturally Speaking to transcribe or even just document spoken words. It saves so much time and effort. I have gotten friends interested in it too since they would never have known it even existed.

    Skype is great (and cheap) for keeping up with family in different countries. My family just leaves it on and walks around the kitchen doing stuff so I feel like I’m sitting in the room.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is I am straddling both sides of the divide. I’m glad I already know how to spell because I do text regularly.

    Anne

  • David says:

    Anne

    I am so glad you stopped by and shared how you are using social media. That makes a lot of sense regarding your concerns about Facebook. I think anything online, Google, Facebook, Amazon etc all are not 100% safe. How can it be. We do live in a digital age now, where we need to be cautious about our information. As long as you don’t put too much personal stuff on the web, you should be fine. If a bad guy wants to find out more about you or me, he will find a way! 🙁

    Please do have some of your friends stop by and comment too. I love hearing from more boomers! I interview them whenever I can, so thanks for taking the time to share. Most of my postings on facebook are geared towards my audience, contractors. Feel free to check it out though: http://www.facebook.com/adavidcreation / By the way, looks like you are in NZ? Am I right? My sister/brother in law lives there.

  • Anne says:

    Hi David,
    Yes, I live in Wellington. However, I am from Chicago and spent 18 yrs in NYC before coming here. When I arrived it seemed to be like the 1950’s with cellphones. Have you been here yet?

    I will check out your facebook page – when I can bring myself to do it. It’s a nice day here and between doing some spring gardening and keeping up with hurricane Irene on CNN I am very busy.
    Anne

  • David says:

    I’ve landed in NZ once and spent time in Australia. Thought it was 10 years behind the States. I’ll have to get over there seeing I’ve got relatives there now.

    I was in Virginia yesterday on the coast for a 4 day getaway, which lasted 24 hours due to being evacuated. I’m near DC waiting the storm out and my wife is visiting relatives in New Hampshire and can’t get a flight back home til mid next week! Frustrating. I’ve got clients in NYC area and have not heard any bad news from them yet?

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