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Baby Boomers Use Social Media Differently than Generation X and Y

According to the latest research, the Baby Boomers using social media has increased enormously in 2010 but despite the rate of growth less than 50% of the Baby Boomers are registered on Social Media.

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Why is this when Baby Boomers created the technology so many Generation X and Y people call normal?  Steve Jobs of Apple is a Baby Boomer.  Bill Gates from Microsoft is a Baby Boomer, Larry Ellison of Oracle is a Baby Boomer,  Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee, the man who made the web possible is a Baby Boomer.

Baby Boomers grew up in an era where they learned how to wait for news in a letter.  Phone calls were a special treat and often expensive. Baby Boomers write cheques and go to a bank to do their business. Once upon a time shopping took place only for a few hours a week (40 maybe 50, as stores opened for eight hours a day, five days a week.

Sunday was for going to church and for family and friends.

Saturday was for housework and children’s sports.

Most homes had only one car.

Mothers worked at home caring for the family but when they were on their own they survived somehow.

Television was only a few hours a day and many homes did not have television until some Baby Boomers were in school.

Today, everything seems instant. We have instant noodles, microwave meals, gourmet meals in the supermarket freezer, fast food joints and social media to contact our friends, family and colleagues. And then there is the world of mobile.

The instant world is still approached cautiously by the Baby Boomers. But the number of Baby Boomers on social media is growing and as it grows I believe we will see some changes. The changes will include

  • The types of comments, how they are made what they say and how they say it
  • The posts – they will either be “preachy” or sharing lessons but they are unlikely to be very personal except in the sharing of pictures
  • As many baby boomers need to keep working, the internet and social media will become their way of contacting people and they know how to network offline and will bring good networking practice online.

So watch how social media continues to change as more and more Baby Boomers adapt to the internet to keep in touch with their family and also to survive economically.

Like it or not retirement will not be the choice for many Baby Boomers.

Roberta is a keynote speaker, facilitator and mentor. You can find her through http://www.budvietas.com which links to her blogs, articles, ebooks and speaking.

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17 Replies

  1. Gail Gardner Jan 12th 2011

    While I am on the tail end of baby boomers myself and much of what you wrote is true, there are a large number of boomers who are Social Media leaders and influencers.

    Yes, there were no microwaves or cell phones and people asked if I were a spy, cop or Doctor because I wore a pager and were then amazed in 1984 when I had an early version of what preceded the RIM that would now be widely recognized as a BlackBerry.

    More women stayed home (barely – that was more my parents generation – my Mother never working was unusual) and stores were not open all the time the way they are now.

    Not all the changes are positive. There is much to be commended about making God and family a priority over greed and competition. We would benefit from a return to that.

    Some amazing transformations are afoot. People like me who once drove 50,000 miles a year and thought not having a car was equal to being truly poor now choose to not even own one.

    Wise people see hyperinflation on the horizon and are moving to remote communities where they can grow food organically so they can eat healthy live, natural diets.

    Television has detriorated to where what was once adult content is now in almost every prime time television show, movie and commercial. Those whose eyes are open are turning away from the major media altogether.

    As the elite seek to control the Internet, bloggers are moving towards supporting small businesses over Big Brands. Huge changes are coming. Are you and your readers ready? Part of it? Or being left behind?

  2. Roberta Jan 12th 2011

    And one could say its about time that we found new answers because the current models really aren’t working

  3. home jobs Jan 13th 2011

    I like your style to posting blog.

  4. Bill Birnbaum Jan 13th 2011

    Seniors will make use of technology (as will anyone else) when they believe that the specific technology will serve some useful purpose. Younger people especially are interested in texting and games; they thus see the immediate need for technologies which serve that purpose. Older folks have different (and likely fewer) technological needs. Bill

  5. Just one small word to mention to diffence in age group tack up of social networking (or maybe its just internet in gerneral, this only realy just occured to me) FREE. Especially with gen Y(18-29) and more so 14-18y back in 2004. Internet was seen as a free use tool, to which all entertainment could be gained.
    rant::”Social networking” – or as i see it since its mainly just one site, is one giant park. people know where they groups are and go there. socail networking was much more healthy on the internet back in the 90s as it was more private chat rooms – put still social and networking.
    end rant

    The young generation see great way to connect – not realizing lack of cost, but the ease of use.
    Older generation have already learnt how to socialize in the network they grow up in. social networking should not mean a term limited technology assisted social network. simply extension of existing models, namily an address book. but also a bar that moves with you ect.

  6. Janett Brown Jul 22nd 2011

    Yes, I agree. The social media is something totally new for the baby boomers. They only use it for specific purposes. But, I think they need to learn more about this world if they want to increase their income. Indeed, there are many different to make money online. And this is a good opportunity for the retiree to increase their incomes. ;)

  7. I’m not so sure the differences are totally about Generation differences. Time and money differences have a big influence too. I know many Baby Boomers with more time and money to spend on Social Media than do some of my now-baby-making Gen Y friends with no time for socializing of nearly any form. In this case, the Baby Boomers are more latest-technology savvy.

    I temporarily have more time than many of my “same age” friends to learn the latest social networking skills. When I was still raising a young family and my friends were done with preschooler-raising, my friends were teaching me about the then-latest technologies. Now, its almost reverse in some cases because I have more time (and maybe at one time even more money).

    In any case, the reason I was pushed to be more Social Media savvy had to do with making money. For post-Gen Yers, social media may be more about a social life. For pre-Gen Yers, social media may be more about career- and money-making.

    But let’s not forget the essentials in life are more than just money and a social life. Let’s focus on other essentials too.

  8. I, as a late boomer, see the “facebooks” and “Myspace” type of sites intrusive and somewhat a scoreboard on your success as an adult as well as social standings. Who wants to be judged on what you do on a social site. A lot of “boomers” do not have a tremendous amount of extra time. Especially these days. And god forbid you don’t reply to a “friend request” fast enough. I enjoy a slower, non judgmental site.

  9. First of all, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook – he’s NOT a boomer. Tom Anderson, who created Myspace – NOT a boomer. Why do you feel the need to paint such a rosy pic of your generation, and continually act as if the world began and will end with YOU?

    Social media and blogging used to be a fun diversion, but when boomers heard about it, they decided it should be monetized. I see far too many so-called “social media agencies” popping up; small firms that specialize in social media marketing. They’re almost ALWAYS headed up by some annoying boomer who blogs and tweets their days away (and of course) expects to get paid for it). It’s a complete scam.

    The younger generations don’t view social networking in terms of business. You people do, and have decided that we all need to use it to make money, which is a load of crap similar to real estate in the mid-2000s. Why boomers feel the need to attempt to get rich off of every new fangled fad that comes their way is beyond me.

    If someone comes to you and says they can offer you the world in social media, question them. Don’t buy into it. You’ll spend a lot of money and will not get a significant return on investment. Fact is, the payoff is minimal. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

    In addition, the second these websites get popular with the boomers is the second the rest of us start defecting and moving onto something new. So if you just jumped on board with social media, please realize: you’re too late. It’s already evolved.

    We don’t like it when boomers stick their greedy little claws into the things we like.

  10. Roberta Budvietas Feb 19th 2012

    The world is full of all generations.
    The challenge we all have is to live together.
    You write as if boomers are the problem. Intolerance will always be the problem and you would not be on the interest if it were not for boomers and the previous generation.
    What do your parents and grandparents use the internet for?
    And just out of curiosity, why did you actually read this blog posting and react to it the way you did?


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