Over 65 and social


The Daily Telegraph termed it the arrival of the “Instagran.” One in four of people over the age of 65 is now using social media on a regular basis, and it’s thought this is primarily to keep in touch with younger relatives and distant relations. Is there therefore an opportunity for communicators to use these channels to reach this audience, and do the over 65s use them in a different way?

Usage facts on their own however don’t demonstrate social media behaviours. Understanding these will give us better insight in to how to truly engage, not just drive out information. My quick predictions are as follows…

As Gareth, our digital and insight lead, says, the “UK is a nation which likes to peep from behind the net curtain.” We love to see content, but putting our head above the parapet to participate requires something significant. My expectation would be that this ‘observing’ behaviour is exaggerated in this group and mass engagement will therefore be limited. However, does that present an opportunity to use more traditional paid approaches to share stories directly with them? I’d like to be proven wrong – but I wonder how successful that would be. Are the over 65s enjoying scrolling through their news feeds?

A potentially powerful opportunity is the “I saw this and thought of you” approach - using Facebook’s younger audiences to share content to engage older populations in peer-to-peer conversations. The challenge here is to create a campaign which is relevant to both parties, to generate a meaningful dialogue. Achieving this will have the potential added benefit of involving a wider group of family, carers and stakeholders in a way which, if done carefully, could bring greater understanding to the (health) issues of ageing populations.

The health sector is traditionally more cautious around social media, but there is clearly an opportunity to uniquely expand in to these channels. Success will require us to look beyond disease states and instead understand better what network(s) the over 65s are interacting with on social media. Our role as communicators is to support our clients to understand and navigate this opportunity in a way which enriches both partners in this dialogue.