January 5, 2011
Most digital media promotions efforts are aimed at Generation Y. Gen Y outnumbers the Baby Boomers right now, 81 million to 78 million, but that does not mean you should ignore the Baby Boomers market. In fact, Baby Boomers are not the technology Luddites everyone assumes them to be.
Last year, Jeremiah Owyang and Forrester Research released a report that said 60% of Baby Boomers were using social media of some sort or another, and that number is only going up. In 2007, the younger Boomers (ages 43 – 52, as of 2009) were consuming social media at a rate of 46%, while older boomers (ages 53 – 63) were using it at a rate of 39%. But by 2008, those numbers had increased to 67% and 62%, respectively.
Using Facebook and Twitter, watching videos on YouTube, and listening to their iPods, Boomers are some of digital media’s biggest users. So a digital media promotions campaign needs to focus on the boomers. Owyang said in his report that marketers need to focus their digital media promotions campaigns on sites like AARP Online and social networks like Classmates, Facebook, and LinkedIn. “The fact that boomers are increasingly using these tools is a clear indication that it is just not a fad,” Owyang said in a February 2009 New York Times article.
The trick, said Owyang, is to engage boomers with a digital media promotions campaign that does not require a lot of effort. He said that Boomers are less likely to participate in contests that require them to write long submissions, or create and upload videos or photos. According to the Forrester report, Boomers prefer digital media promotions like taking polls, rating and voting on items, ranking favorites, or providing user feedback of services or news stories.
This means a Boomer-focused digital media promotions campaign needs to focus on the issues that interest them, not what “young people” think is cool. That does not mean avoiding a digital media promotions campaign that gives free digital music downloads, for example. But rather than tying it into creating special online content, tie it into something the Boomers already enjoy doing. Maybe they are traveling more, or they still work out and participate in sports, or they love music and go to concerts, or they are classic car enthusiasts and visit different shows and rallies.
Boomers are also joining social networks in droves, growing from 15% in 2007 to 25% in 2009. Recent figures from Facebook show that women, ages 50 – 60, are their fastest growing demographic. Not only is Facebook a viable digital media promotions and advertising channel, but company branded social networks are as well.
For example, a social network geared toward older travelers, athletes, or music lovers could be a great long-term strategy for digital media promotions. Consider sponsoring a travel-based social network and being visible while members are discussing different travel destinations and sharing memories.
Forrester and Owyang even recommend using digital media promotions to target Boomers with a social application: according to the research, the number of older Boomers responding to online content doubled from 2007 to 2008, 15% to 34%. For example, a music label could consider launching a mobile app that focuses on a specific music genre geared toward concert venues and bands. Then, users could follow the progress of their favorite bands, see where they are going to play, or check the schedule of their favorite nightclub or concert hall to see who is coming to town. Then share their findings with friends, chat online with other fans, and even arrange to meet people at concerts.
Digital media promotions should not be limited to just Generation Y. As Owyang and Forrester Research have shown, the Baby Boomer market is a fertile playground for marketers looking to easily reach an engaged audience. A specially targeted digital media promotions campaign can be just as effective in targeting Gen Y’s parents and grandparents.
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