Users ages 55 and up increasingly likely to connect with companies

It took older web users a few years to begin social networking after it had been popularized by the younger set, but they soon became the fastest-growing segment of users on sites like Facebook. Now it appears they are also growing into a specific social media habit that had been more popular among younger adults: connecting with brands.

As recently as September 2010, based on research from Wedbush Securities, it seemed as if Facebook engagement with brands just might not interest users over age 55. At that point, only about one in four of Facebook’s oldest users had “liked” a brand on the site, compared with 60% of those ages 18 to 34.

By November 2010, over-55s had begun to close the gap, however, and by April 2011, nearly half were connecting with brands. Engagement had also risen among 18- to 34-year-olds as well as the 35-to-54 age group over the period. Overall, 59% of adult Facebook users had “liked” a brand as of April, up from 47% the previous September. Uptake among the oldest users appears to have been a major factor in this rise.

US Facebook Users Who "Like" Brands on Facebook, by Age, 2010 & 2011 (% of respondents)

Increased engagement among older boomers and seniors suggests that Facebook users of all ages have some interest in connecting with brand pages, rather than appealing only to young adults. Since most older Facebook users still have not “liked” a brand, there could still be room to grow in this demographic. The climbing level of activity among the middle age group indicates that younger boomers could have just as much potential social engagement with brands as millennials and Gen Xers.

Typically, social media users report connecting with brands to get deals and discounts, as well as information about products and special offers. But what brand fans expect can vary. For example, affluent social media users tended to follow brands because of a preexisting affinity for them, and a desire to be kept informed. Many older users will fall into this group, due to the point they have reached in their careers and their longer opportunity to build up net worth.

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