How over 50s use social media and the internet.

Over 50s use social media and research AND purchase online in increasing numbers. Get the full rundown and stay ahead with this blog post.

Written by Paul Mortimer
Social media |   3 minute read

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok: younger generations are more likely to recognise and engage with these platforms. However, social media isn’t just for teens – the young at heart have also made their mark on the likes of Facebook and Instagram.

Elder woman celebrating over 50 looking at her social media accounts

When we originally wrote this blog back in 2016, 51% of adults aged between 55 to 64 regularly used social media and 23% of over 65s used social media compared to only 15% in 2015. That equated to over 50% more over 65s using social media compared to the year below.

It’s only increased since then. The older generation may be late to the social media party, but they’re here to stay. So we’re back to update you with some more stats to see how things have changed.

Facebook.

Many marketers report that Facebook is the most effective platform for reaching an older demographic. I even went as far as to talk to our own social team to confirm.

This is what Tom had to say:

tom c social team member saying quote

After 15 years of operation, Facebook is still one of the most used social media platforms. In the UK, last year, 500,000 new over-50s were expected to join, which would make them the second most prominent demographic on the social network.facebook data

The appeal of Facebook might come from the algorithm changes that now place more weight on personal news from friends and family on the feed, which is the type of content older users want. Whereas, young users prefer more diverse content such as news, entertainment and memes.

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Instagram.

On a global level, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks. When it comes to this app, Gen Z takes the cake as the largest user base. 

instagram age data over 50s

Looking at the data, you can see a significant drop off at the over 50s, however I have a feeling why this may be. In my experience, the ‘gram is always rolling out a new update. The app’s constant evolution might be off-putting for those a little less tech-savvy. 

However, some seniors are becoming Instagram sensations. Helen Ruth Elam, better known as @baddiewinkle, has almost 4 million followers who love her care-free spirit. The 91-year-old coined the term “stealing your man since 1928” and has even written a book.

YouTube.

We’ve all been down the YouTube rabbit hole. One minute you’re learning how to boil an egg, the next minute you’re watching a video on the top 10 dog breeds of all time. (Turns out it’s a labrador. Cocker spaniels were robbed).

Basically, there’s something for everyone on YouTube. 

youtube data over 50s

Baby boomers are probably the demographic you would expect to spend the least amount of time watching YouTube videos. But in reality, those trendy folks over 55 account for 24% of YouTube viewers - that’s something like 31 million people BTW.

They’re more likely to skip programmed TV in favour of easily digestible chunks of short-form video content. Just like the rest of us.

Appealing to the over 50s.

Happy senior woman using social media

Compared with younger people, social media is less likely to be seen as a place to just hang out and share memes. Instead, it’s seen as a practical resource. 

This suggests that for older people, social content needs to be relevant, not just an amusing way of passing time. Generally, the over 50s are fairly conservative and tend to stick to what they know which, for more than 90%, means using only Facebook.  

Despite the stats and buying power they now have, most ads aren’t aimed at this older demographic. No-one said it was going to be easy.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • We get more diverse with age so when creating content for an older audience, it’s important not to just recycle the same material that would be used for young people. 
  • Older people have high standards. They want facts, information and logic and they expect it to be well written too. Steer away from any #YOLO #LMAO malarkey. 
  • Speak their language, not yours. Avoid tech speak or filling your social calendar with irrelevant content. They’re very unlikely to care if it’s World Emoji Day. 
  • Above all, don’t patronise them. They’ve already been there, done that.

Older audiences are brand loyal when they want to be. They’re also less likely to use ad blockers. That means you have a better chance of getting a good picture of what they’re up to.

Couple this with their increasing social media usage and they're a prime and ready audience to target. 

So why not target them with highly relevant inbound marketing?

Get more from your social channels with inbound marketing.

If you’re trying to appeal to a specific audience and optimise your social channels, then make sure to check out our inbound pillar page. It has a whole section on social that’s packed with best practices and tips you can action right now. 

The pillar page also has sections on video, workflows and content to give you the tools you need to deliver an effective inbound marketing campaign. Get your copy of it now by clicking the link below. 

Find out more about Inbound Marketing

This blog was originally written by Paul Mortimer 05/10/16. It was updated by Molly Johnston for 2020. 

Data credit.