Boomers caring for their aging parents are even more heavily reliant on sites like Facebook than boomers in general.
This was an interesting finding from Pew Internet’s most recent study showing that use of networking sites in the 50-plus demographic grew 88% between 2009 and 2010 to 47%. Use among those 65-plus doubled to 26%, making them the fastest growing segment.
Consulting firm Age Lessons partnered with ComScore to further study this result, examining the online habits of 3.8 million boomer caregivers. What they found represents a strong niche opportunity for marketers:
• Estimates of the boomer caregiver population are around 15.5 million out of the 78 million boomers (nearly 20%). Seventy percent of the caregivers doing day-to-day care tasks are women.
• They use social media for 150 minutes per month and view 70% more pages than the average internet user. They’re driven to these sites by several primary reasons, according to the study:
1) Validate and reinforce their feelings. Being a caregiver, especially for your parents, causes all kinds of relationship stresses. Finding other people in similar situations, who also might be part of larger communities, is emotionally and spiritually important for this group.
2) Maintaining and streamlining connections. Taking care of yourself is hard enough work. Taking care of your parents, especially when it happens out of the blue, is a major logistical problem. Using social media to keep up with friends and family can help maintain and streamline connections.
3) Information and advice. The study found that they are more likely to research than buy online, but that they do buy, too. They’re three times as likely as the average boomer to use sites like Yelp and Citysearch before making a purchase.
It pays to engage this demographic (15.5 million strong) through social media. But when you do, consider how you can provide the important and sought-after benefit of a break from the stresses of family-care to self-care. It will be a win-win engagement all around.