Firms Can Reach Boomers through Social Web

Baby Boomers continue to consume and use more social technologies, and retirement-focused sites are taking up the opportunity.

A new study by Forrester Research found that more than 60% of Baby Boomers consume socially created content. While they might not be as active as their kids, the majority of Baby Boomers are at least “spectators” in social media—and more continue to jump in and participate.

Two-thirds of younger Boomers (classified in the research as ages 43 to 52) and 62% of older Boomers (ages 53 to 63) consume social media, including reading blogs, listening to podcasts, watching user-generated videos, reading forums, or reading customer ratings. Those percentages are up since 2007, when 46% of younger Boomers and 39% of older Boomers demonstrated this behavior, according to Forrester.

Furthermore, the number of Boomers reacting to content has doubled, from 15% in 2007 to 34% in 2008. “This is enough to target this audience with a social application,” the study says.

Forrester notes that Charles Schwab has taken the opportunity to launch a social application called Rethinking Retirement, which allows members to provide details about their own financial state to compare with other Boomers. Schwab is not only using this survey as an icebreaker—but they are also receiving valuable information from customers, the study says.

A smaller but meaningful number of Boomers are also joining social networking communities (such as Facebook). Almost one in four Boomers are active in social communities—up from 15% in 2007. One especially active group is AARP. In fact, 90% of the content in AARP’s community is produced by Boomers themselves, according to the study.

The study notes that Boomers are not avid creators of content—fewer than one in six create or collect content—but they are willing to participate. “With Boomers lower level of participation, it’s not as urgent to target them with social applications as you would college students. But the moderate levels of participation we see, combined with the substantial growth since last year, means you can safely spend a portion of your Boomer-focused budget in social environments that will become more productive over time,” the study says.


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