Article by: Mark Thogmartin, VP of Biz Development, DISRUPT Media
My 83 year-old father only recently ventured into the world of online electronic communication and Internet browsing, primarily due to the restoration and maintenance of his 1935 Ford Tudor Coupe. Dad realized a long time ago that his own children and grandchildren were using the computer for more than a fancy typewriter, and he increasingly began asking us to look for car parts and other resources on the Internet. Finally, about 9 years ago, he decided to dive in. We helped him choose and purchase a simple Windows laptop, and soon he was emailing friends and family, buying and selling parts on eBay, having discussions on vintage car bulletin boards. He eventually created an account on Facebook through which he keeps up with the antics and adventures of his grandchildren.
Senior citizens are one of the fastest growing demographic groups on the social networks, with almost 40 million people age 65 and older using Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. While the perception exists that younger demographics create most of the Internet traffic, the use of the online social space by seniors is growing exponentially…as is the opportunity to market to this financially well-positioned group. How can you make sure your online efforts appeal to older fans? Do your posts on Facebook and in the other social media appeal to a broad audience that includes the elderly? Here are some ideas to consider:
Thanks For the Memories
A while back I recall bragging to my children that 70’s music was the best and most memorable of all. As proof, I noted that the majority marketing campaigns on television integrated music from the 1970’s. I rode this egotistical horse until one of my kids pointed out that this was because the people with most of the money were baby boomers. Of course advertisers needed to appeal to those who could afford their products! If you want to grab the attention of the 65 plus crowd, use images that remind them of their youth – black and white photos or color photos of items, places, and events the elicit memories of the “good old days.” Below is an image used by one of our clients on the anniversary of Orville Wright’s death:
The quote is nice enough, but the black and white image of Orville, with the handlebar mustache and the tall shirt collar may elicit a “Like” or even a “Share” from older Facebook users. The “Remember when…” images and the “What were you doing on this day in history?” posts that often float around the social outlets are other examples of this appeal to nostalgia that will broaden your engagement among the elderly.
Post Uncomplicated Content That is Easy to Read
Research has shown that senior citizens engage in social media for reasons that are similar to younger demographics. Roughly 40 percent are turning to social networks to connect with friends and family, 20 percent log on for social gaming (word and number games), and 10 percent enjoy participating in online contests. A smaller percentage read news or express political opinions. Elderly folks are generally not interested in technical or trendy issues, so you should avoid using faddish or technical jargon in your content. Complex and wordy sentences may turn seniors off. Your posts should be clean and streamlined using basic fonts with plenty of light-colored space as in this image:
And browsers of all ages, including seniors, will be put off by an excessive effort on your part to market your funeral services and products. Instead, win them over by appealing to their interests. The warm feelings this will generate toward your brand will pay off when there is a need for your services.
Work to Establish Credibility and Trust
As you reach out to an older demographic, it is important to let them know you have their interests in mind. When you do promote the things your funeral business has to offer, appeal to the needs seniors have and how you can help meet those needs. Links to articles about the benefits of pre-planning or about dealing with grief can help those who are dealing with these issues. Addressing fear head on may encourage an older reader at just the right time.
As you post helpful content and win the confidence and trust of your older fans, and as they like and share this content with their family and friends, your engagement figures will grow, solidifying a base that will generate business in the future.
Remember that many factors, other than great content, play into social media success. Image size, the time of day you post, your post targeting and boosting content all play a part in the organic reach of a post and the engagement of that post. You may be concerned about the legalities of posting non-original content, the mechanics involved, or your ability to have time to make it all happen. If so, you can turn to the experts at DISRUPT Media. We are the only full-service social media agency specifically catering to the funeral profession. Go to http://funeralsocial.com to find out more about the services we offer. Our clients who are a part of our FUNERAL Social Design Process are seeing an increase in post reach and engagement of over 300%.
Mark Thogmartin – VP of Business Development at DISRUPT Media
Dr. Mark Thogmartin is a life-long educator, working with students from Kindergarten through the doctoral level. He has degrees from the University of Kentucky, the Ohio State University, and Andrews University. Mark’s book, Teach a Child to Read with Children’s Books, has gained wide acceptance among reading tutors and parents who are teaching their children at home. In addition to assisting his son, Ryan, at DISRUPT Media as Vice President of Business Development, he works part-time as a mentor of doctoral students at Capella University. Mark and his wife Donna live in Millersport and are the parents of three adult sons and two beautiful granddaughters.