Brands who still think social media is reserved for young people are as outdated as MySpace. A new type of influencer is winning hearts and likes across the internet with their joie de vivre – and they’re aged 50 plus.
We’re increasingly seeing the baby boomer generation and upwards claiming the Insta spotlight, but they’re relatively untapped when it comes to influencer marketing strategies. Brands could be missing out on capturing the right audiences if they don’t re-focus their approach and consider the rise of older influencers.
It’s often assumed that baby boomers dabble in social media, perhaps just to snoop on their children’s social media interactions now and then. But in reality, baby boomers and above are using social media daily to get their fix of news, culture, inspiration, events, and much more besides. While millennial influencers still dominate social media platforms, older influencers are steadily emerging and paving the way for audiences aged 50 and older, who are demanding more choice and better role models.
While many of today’s millennial influencers are so proficient in social media that they could teach a ‘how-to-be-a-social-media-influencer’ course with their eyes closed, the polish and 100-watt smile doesn’t necessarily do it for everyone. Increasingly, the refreshing content produced by a slightly older generation of social media amateurs who are openly and casually winging it is racking up likes across the board. For example, in October 50-year-old Jennifer Aniston – a self-confessed social media amateur – joined Instagram, and it whipped the internet into a frenzy. She accrued 1 million followers in just over five hours, setting a Guinness World Record for the fastest time an Instagram account has reached that milestone.
As healthy living and aging without barriers continues to be on trend, audiences are looking for content that is both a realistic and inspirational reflection of what it’s like to grow older and live an older lifestyle. But what’s being advertised as of interest to older generations is all too often significantly misjudged.
In fact, 89% of audiences aged 50 and older believe brands aren’t interested in them. 36% of these audiences also believe that getting older is overly emphasized. Despite the buzz all around millennials, older generations are a largely untapped influencer marketing gold mine, with social media users aged 50 and older significantly more likely to search for a product after viewing it on Instagram. As time goes on, this matters more and more: By 2020 the world will have more over 55-year-olds than under 5-year olds, with older people generating half of all global urban consumption between 2015 and 2030. With these types of figures, brands need to effectively and authentically reach this lucrative audience.
Some brands have caught on and started to leverage older influencers. After struggling herself to find anything relatable online 66-year-old Professor Lyn Slater created Accidental Icon, a platform for women who live “interesting but ordinary lives” and “who are not famous or celebrities but are importantly clear and comfortable with who they are.” Lyn is a crusader against ageism and big fashion brands such as Mango and Uniqlo have worked with her, leveraging her 695,000 Instagram followers and reach across both older audiences and millennials to show that beauty and style is ageless.
Whilst it’s often assumed that baby boomers and older audiences aren’t tech-savvy or active across a range of social media platforms – this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the over-55s are the second most prominent demographic on Facebook.
There’s a broader lesson in this. In order to target baby boomers and older audiences without offending or patronising them, it’s important to understand that a blanket approach won’t work. Each of these age groups is as diverse and individualistic as any cohort of 20-somethings, and they need to be recognised as such. Brands must consider different personality profiles and ensure that influencer partnerships effectively target the consumer intended.
That means doing the groundwork. Ultimately, to make social media fly for the 50+ generation, brands need to leverage data-driven insights to create bespoke content and target mature audiences appropriately – and that means as individuals, rather than as an indistinguishable mass. By using insights as a guiding light, brands can take their social media campaigns seamlessly from Gen Z to Granny, and beyond.