5 reasons why your company should be afraid of old people

old-manNielsen Online has just released a report on the growth of Social Media. Globally, it is expanding significantly in countries like Germany and the UK, though not much in the US, but that figure may be affected by its already high level of penetration.

And while the fastest growing group of influencers in Consumer Generated Media on a worldwide scale is the 35-49 year old demographic, I was surprised to learn that’s not the case in the US. The fastest growing group is the 50-64 year old demo. Again, this is a figure that may be affected by a saturated market, but it warrants some attention – and here’s why.

1. Older people have larger networks. This goes without saying. The older you are, the more time you’ve had to build up established friendships, family and business relationships. Within these relationships they wield influence.
2. Older people know more. If you look at general knowledge, older people tend to devote more time to reading and watching the news. And, by virtue of their length of time living, they’ve had longer to learn more through their experiences.
3. Older people have more time on their hands. Younger demographics are building their careers, searching for mates, and raising children. People in the 50-64 year old demographic are moving towards retirement or working part time, they’re married and, more than likely, empty nesters.
4. There’s more of them out there than anyone else. The 50-54 year old group represents the front end of the baby boomer curve in population.

So how does any of this matter?

If this demographic is the highest growth group in Consumer Generated Media, they’re going to bring a wave of sophisticated opinion to the masses. They can generate a good deal of influence due to their knowledge, large networks and ability to spend more time and effort spreading their opinions. Brands that do a great job of building advocacy with these groups will reap the benefits of viral word of mouth that goes well beyond the traditional dinner party. However, those brands that do not will suffer from a growing number of dissenting opinions, from a group which wields a good deal of influence. Which brings me to the biggest reason why it’s vital to get this people on side.

5. This group is set to inherit the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the world. 75% of the world’s wealth is controlled by people over the age of 65 years, and most of it will go to this group.

How is your company doing with this group? Read my article about 2 things every company should do before getting into social media.

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2 things every company must do before using social media

Companies are looking increasingly at social media as the answer to their declining marketing dollars. Just as the recession has exacerbated the decline of traditional media, so it has given meteoric rise to social media. The reason? It’s cheap. But unfortunately, many companies don’t know enough about social media – and she is a fickle one, because she’s controlled entirely by your customers. Some love you, some hate you – and they all have an equal voice.

Any company that is thinking about getting into social media should, but not in the way many think. Forget launching a Facebook page or holding a contest where people can make their own commercials about you. Instead, just monitor what people are saying about you.

1. Go to Google Alerts and enter your company’s name in the Blog Search area. Google with then monitor all mentions of your company and send you an email. There are a couple of other search engines for this, but Google does a pretty good job.

2. Visit Twitter Search on a regular basis. Enter your company’s name and you’ll see, in real time, what people are saying about you.

Anyone not doing this and thinking about social media is insane. These two tools can provide any company with basic means of monitoring their customers’ feedback. And here’s the best part – you can respond. Here are a few examples of what’s being said about a company in our area. Ask yourself what you would do if you saw these comments:

1. Jan: Is glad to be home after nearly being stranded. First experience with XXXXXX and the flight was cancelled!

2. wineb: Just got ‘free’ tickets on XXXXXX! NEVER been on a plane before– I AM SO EXCITED!!!

A quick note back to Jan could make her realize that the company cares about her cancelled flight (and provide incentive for a future flight). Another note to wineb could share in her excitement about a first time experience. By reaching out to these people at the right time, not only will they become more bonded to the company, but they’re well on their way to sharing that goodwill with their friends through these social media tools.

And you wondered why no one was joining your Facebook page.

Do you have any positive social media stories worth sharing?

3 ways Twitter can be more useful

You can’t argue with the explosive growth of Twitter over the last few months. I think the #1 update in March was “Not sure how this thing works, but here we go.” I’ve been messing around with it, but other than brand building (nods to you, Mr. Kawasaki), I don’t think Twitter is being used to its full potential. Here are 3 things I’d like to see Twitter do that would make it more useful to me:

1. Get my broker on it. Whenever that hot tip comes along or some imminent news, I’d love it if my broker would broadcast it out to me and the rest of his followers. What about other instant updates? How about tweets from airline flights to see if they’re on time?

2. Have a local broadcast option. There’s really no point in asking my followers where the best place to buy scotch in Victoria is, because the majority of them live elsewhere. If Twitter set up a local area broadcast, you could get all sorts of valuable local information from the people who live there – not just your current local followers.

3. Optimize tweets for my interests. Some of the links that get shared are terrific, but they have nothing to do with my passion, and they come from people who are in my industry. I’d love to see Twitter optimize updates to my interests only.

What would you like Twitter to do for you?

The key to a great brand? Turn some people off.

ryanair_logoIt sounds ridiculous, but great brands should say to a segment of the population “you’re not for me”. Recently Ryanair was in the news for telling off a blogger who thought he had tricked Ryanair’s website into giving him free flights. Whether you agree or disagree with Ryanair’s reaction, one thing stands out – they took a brand position (cheeky and ruthlessly cheap) and stuck with it – and you have to admire that. Now I am told that Ryanair is famous for less-than-stellar customer service, but can you argue with their growth? British Airways’ traffic was down 8% in February, yet Ryanair’s was up 7%. It doesn’t sound like their controversial stance is deterring many prospective passengers.

Women rule the world

75% of the total wealth in the world is controlled by people over 65 years old. And the defining trait of people over 65 is that they are women (65% of them). I pulled this clip off of the Future of Marketing Blog. It’s spot on. What is your agency doing to adjust to this growing audience?

Just because Twitter is quick doesn’t mean it won’t last forever

On Twitter, it’s super easy to provide an update in no time. But be careful what you say. Just like a comment on a post, blog entry or web page, it’s indexable and can live forever on the web. Just a little tip the next time you want to write something flippant or cavalier. It may affect your personal brand.

Invading my space doesn’t make you more relevant

planters adI visit sportsillustrated.com on a daily basis to get updates on scores and to read some of the terrific sports writers, like Peter King. Recently I have noticed a growing number of display ads on their site that expand over the navigation and articles I’m reading. It certainly gets them noticed, but it doesn’t make me want to engage with them any more. In fact, some of the ads are annoying because the prevent me from navigating, and I then have to search for the ‘close’ button to get rid of them.

Instead of changing the format of these ads to make them more noticeable, I’d suggest making them more relevant. Use my online behavior or context of the articles I habitually read as a way to determine what I’d like to buy. Shoving a product in my face that I don’t want only gives me a negative impression of the brand.