While many associate social media with Millennials and Gen Z, Baby Boomers are also heavy users of these channels, with Facebook being the biggest for the demographic. According to Pew Research Center, of the 79% of Americans who were Facebook users in 2016, 72% were between the age of 50 and 64. They are also highly engaged users. One survey found the group 19% more likely to share content on Facebook than any other generation.
For marketers and publishers, this is a huge opportunity. And even if you’re not segmenting specifically for Baby Boomers, there are plenty of other correlated attributes that you might be interested in reaching. An important and possibly most obvious one is that they hold onto a higher average level of wealth and, once retired, have more time to spend it.
In general, Baby Boomers spend more time consuming online content every week than do other generations, with 25% engaging with online content 20 or more hours every week. In a study by Nielsen in Q3 2016, the 50+ group spent more time consuming world news and politics than did other generations. Now, the numbers overall may be skewed given the survey’s timing, a high point of media frenzy around the U.S. Presidential election, but that wouldn’t explain it being nearly double the amount of time Millennials spent with news online.
News isn’t the only content vertical that has high engagement in the Baby Boomer demographic. Health, entertainment and food are also very popular. And they’re not just reading this content, they’re sharing it. Boomer women, in particular, are even more predisposed to sharing, with a 26% greater likelihood, well above the generational average of 19%. Compared to other generations, the types of content besides news that are most likely to get shares are food snapshots (10% more) and cute videos of babies and animals (18% more).
Video is, in fact, the most popular form of content among Baby Boomers, with 27% regularly watching video on Facebook. And as is common across the board, short-form video is the most preferred, with 70% wanting video under five minutes and over a third saying they want videos under three minutes. And even shorter is often better. Our internal statistics show that 83% of videos on Facebook are between 30 and 90 seconds. Interestingly, those 30 to 60 seconds are more effective for maximizing views, while those 60 to 90 seconds maximize shares.
When it comes to brands on Facebook, Baby Boomers are slightly less likely to be regular followers (55% compared to Millennials at 58.9%). Those who do follow are generally motivated by the potential for deals and promotions, whereas Millennials are looking more for entertainment value and informative content. On the other hand, Baby Boomers are 58% more likely to visit a brand’s site as a result of a social media post.
The takeaway is that, whether you’re a brand or a publisher, whether you’re looking to appeal to this particular age group or their associated characteristics, Facebook is the place to be. This is especially true if you’re in the news, health and entertainment verticals. Use lots of video, and make it short. For brands, you might have to work a little harder to get the follow, so maximize your chances of making it into newsfeeds by making your content appeal to the nearly 50% who say they want to share “useful content.”