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Studies Show All Ages Network Online


I’ve recently been approached by several large real estate company recruiters asking for my advice on how I would go about recruiting talent.

I’ve been asked this before, and my response has become pretty refined. Being a tech guy, the conversation usually goes to blogging, social networking and search engine optimization.

Uh Oh

When I talk about social networking, nine out of ten times, I hit the roadblock of “that’s for kids”. I always hate hearing this. I’ll admit, Jay and Bill don’t act their age, but social networks are for kids? Come on, grow up!

Finally, along came AARP (who I am looking forward to joining someday) who did a great study about social networks amongst “older” Americans.

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Silly Rabbit, Social Networks AREN’T Just for Kids

My favorite part is the finding that “Among internet users 50+ who are members of online communities, 58% log in to their online community daily or several times a day, compared with 47% of members under 20”

Hmm, just for kids? I guess not.

Another point I found interesting involved the 70+ year old crowd:

46% of users under 50 say the internet is important or very important in maintaining their social relationships – identical to the percentage for those over 70

Thank you Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication for summing this up so nicely for us:

In specific areas, there is often little difference in use of online technology between older users and some of the youngest users.

So the next time you, young or young-at-heart, are told that online social networks are for kids, feel free to shed some light on the truth. Heck, invite your grandparents to friend you on Facebook!

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Written By

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Eric Blackwell

    August 5, 2008 at 6:04 am

    This is a solid point Nick.

    Several years ago, a local old folks home asked me to provide a bid for wiring their entire campus of assisted living communities. I asked them what was driving their decision to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to do this. The answer? Two words.

    Consumer demand.

    Something I have never forgotten.

    Eric

  2. Glenn fm Naples

    August 5, 2008 at 6:04 am

    NIck – very interesting statistics. I never would have thought social networks are frequented by the 50+ group. At 60 years old (a true fact), I was thinking the social networks are for the younger generations – so this was very eye opening for me.

    Now I just to have other people that want to socialize that aren’t real estate agents. LOL

    When I look at my friends on the social network sites – it is mostly real estate agents!

  3. Mike Taylor

    August 5, 2008 at 6:21 am

    Who knew??? I would have NEVER guessed this to be true. I guess that is what you get for making assumptions about people. Thanks for the eye opening data.

  4. Jennifer in Louisville

    August 5, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I’d be curious to see what the break down is on a state by state basis – cause I’d bet that my area is WAY lower than those figures. I still have a fair amount of clients that don’t even have email.

    Mark Twain once said: “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Kentucky because it’s always twenty years behind the times”.

  5. Jim Duncan

    August 5, 2008 at 7:10 am

    The trends are not necessarily generational as much as they are a reflection of those who are embracing information and technology – the young ‘uns don’t have a monopoly on that. I’d also argue that the “older” ones may be more inclined to see the business value in social networks and the internets as they have less free time to waste.

  6. Jay Thompson

    August 5, 2008 at 9:40 am

    “I’ll admit, Jay and Bill don’t act their age…”

    I have a wife and two teenagers that would agree 110% with that statement…..

    My mother, at 74, recently asked me if she should get a Facebook account. She hasn’t, yet, but sees it as a way to stay in touch with her grandkids (and kids).

  7. Bill Lublin

    August 5, 2008 at 10:21 am

    “I’ll admit, Jay and Bill don’t act their age…” Dude – I don’t even act your age!

    Oddly enough, I think that the functionality of the social netwrok has a lot to do with the usage, MySpace was a non-starter for me – for my son and his friends who are in the entertainment industry – it was better, but still not the winner facebook became because of the increased functionality and ability to interact with others in a variety of manners from messaging to sharing photos, joining groups and playing games – As the Social Networks become more flexible and reflective of our natural inclinations in interaction, more people came to play and to stay
    Great Post ! 😉

  8. Jeff Bernheisel

    August 5, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Hey Nick,

    Good find…

    I’ve been helping my brother in law setup a basic blog for his reverse mortgage business. We’ve gotten a lot of negative attitude from others in his office saying his target demographic isn’t going to be looking online. Obviously I disagree… This article backs what I’ve been telling them for a couple months now. (I’ve already forwarded it to them)

    His blog is getting traffic, wether its his target demo or not, people are searching for reverse mortgages online and reading his blog. (average time on his site is over 6 minutes) It’s only 2 months old, but it’s just a matter of time before he starts getting deals from it.

    -Jeff

  9. Rod Rebello

    August 5, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I maintain my 80+ yr old parents computer and internet service. Believe me, I get an earful when either are not working!

  10. Nick Bostic

    August 5, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    @Eric – There’s been a couple of new retirement communities built near me and one of the biggest points on their signs is “High speed internet provided!”

    @Glenn – I hear you on the real estate agents as online friends point. That’s why about once every other week I go onto TwitterLocal to find people who are just near me geographically, not in my line of work. I find sometimes you just have to force yourself to go look elsewhere.

    @Mike – I’ve been waiting for a study like this. My 80+ year old grandfather has been coding web sites for a few years now and loves his email. I figured he couldn’t be the only one 🙂

    @Jennifer – That Twain quotation has always intrigued me, I need to get out your way one of these days.

    @Jim – Not totally sure about the “less free time to waste” comment since I see how many hours I work and those “older” generations are getting into retirement 🙂 But I think maybe since they didn’t grow up in front of computers, the fun/tolerance is different from those of us who did.

    @Jay – My mom knows the easiest & quickest way to get in touch with me is via a text message, so she was forced to learn.

    @Bill – I have always hated MySpace with a passion, but you’re right about industries, several friends who are in bands have had great exposure on there.

    @Jeff – Glad I was able to dig up some research to help! Also happy to see you’re not just concerned about hits and are tracking a more important metric like time on site.

    @Rob – You’ve turned them into addicts! 🙂

  11. Eric Blackwell

    August 5, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Hey jennifer;

    That old folks home I was talking about was the Masonic Home in Louisville Kentucky!!! Not sure Mark Twain was accurate there! (grin)

    Eric

  12. Dan Connolly

    August 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    When I signed up for StumbleUpon I entered my age (56). I was automatically labeled “old guy from Atlanta GA” WTF? I said, I don’t feel like an old guy, so I made my age private. Really for me Facebook and Linkedin seem like they are primarily for corporate types or recent college grads looking for work or dates. Maybe there is something there I am missing. Does anyone get RE clients from these sites? Is there any SEO value in having a bunch of friends?

  13. Jamey Bridges

    August 5, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Nick, the graph is great, glad they could put that information together to share (Fight On!).
    I don’t know if they have a graph by age groups and the networks they are most active on. It seems that more professional marketed networks like LinkedIn and Facebook seem to have a different demographic concentration than say MySpace. I think each one certainly serves a niche though so it would definitely be important not to ignore them.

  14. LDG in London

    August 5, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    It’s a good job that we have got the silver surfers.. they are the only ones who still have faith in property. We have noticed a distinct lack of under 35’s since the recent property slow down began.

    The old folks understand the long term nature of the property investment cycle and having seen it last time around they want everything in place for when things get going again.

  15. msWoods Indianapolis Real Estate

    December 7, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Have any of you had much success finding clients with any of the social networks like Facebook? Do you actually use them for business?

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