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I get some of the funniest Facebook posts from my grandparents. For instance, my Nana once posted the following on my Facebook page in response to one of my posts, “Kaela, have your dad call me.”  Another time, I received a notification that Nana commented on something I had shared, originally from my Mom’s page. When I checked to see what she wrote, it said, “Kaela, this is Mimi. Thank you for sending this article to your Nana. I really enjoyed reading it.” Mimi followed it up with a phone call to my mom to ask her if she had seen the article I had sent to Nana.

Although they are both on Facebook, Nana and Mimi do not use Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media communication tools, because they are not familiar with how to use them. My grandparents are in their late sixties and are obviously making an effort to be Internet and social media savvy; however, their capacity to understand and use these tools is often fairly limited. So how do you efficiently market to the elderly using digital media, if they aren’t a large part of your digital audience? And why is it important to market to them in the first place?

One thing I have noticed about my grandparents, especially my grandmothers, is that they enjoy reading magazines – all kinds of different magazines. My grandparents also long to feel connected with their children and grandchildren, but sometimes struggle with knowing the best way to do so. The elderly are eager to learn how to access the digital forums and connect with the younger generations but fall short in their understanding of such activities.

Print marketing needs to be geared towards teaching the elderly how to access and use digital media. Consider magazines such as AARP, Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping, and Leisure+Travel, all of which have a significant following among the elderly. Advertisers should consider the advantages of inserting some simple “how-to” guides for using and understanding social media better inside those magazines.

At the same time, they also need to draw their target audience into wanting to use social media by helping them visualize the meaningful connections and deep relationships they could be having with their loved ones if they were on these sites. And once the wave of learning begins, there would be no stopping it. The impact would spread exponentially as everyone would share their new-found knowledge with their friends. How do you think Mimi figured out how to post on Facebook? Nana taught her.

Once the shift begins, and we find more and more elderly individuals spending time on the Internet and on social media, advertising firms would be able to change their strategy for this demographic and extend the reach of digital marketing to the elderly. Marketing to this age group would be very beneficial to companies since this age group has significant discretionary income and controls seventy percent or more of the population’s wealth. Yet, approximately only thirty-five percent of them are currently using social media. Research has shown that the ones who use social media spend much more time on the Internet weekly than they do reading their magazines.

By teaching this generation to begin using more social media, companies have more of a chance to effectively advertise to the elderly. And, as an added benefit, family relationships would grow stronger.


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