Media & Entertainment

When Grandma Is Better at Instagram Than You Are

Image Credit: Unsplash 10/17/17 (Tiago Muraro)

The Gist: Though often forgotten, Baby Boomers (55+) are a valuable base of consumers, with constantly evolving social media habits. When comparing their habits pre-2016 to this year, we find that Instagram has topped Twitter, and that Boomers are spending more time on social media each day.


Let’s just forget about Millennials and Gen Z for a hot sec. Though we dominate social media, we’re not the only ones you can find on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and the like. Baby Boomers (ages 55+) are scrolling and snapping, too.

Don’t count them out.

A recent New York Times article details a large gap in Boomer marketing. T-Mobile’s Chief Executive even gave a minutes-long monologue about the negative consequences of marketers ignoring Boomers. But what does an actual boomer have to say? Well, Doug Verb, cited in the article, explains his view of modern-day brands:

“They’re all missing it. We’re here in the millions, and we have more disposable income, time and want to spend money. Yet they don’t give us the consideration that they should.”

The list of reasons to market to Baby Boomers could go on and on, but I’m not here to sell you on the value of Baby Boomers. I am here, however, to show you how you might be able to connect with them if that’s on your horizon.

To do that, I thought I would check out where Baby Boomers used to be on social media, compared to where they are right now.

Check it out:

New CivicScience graph showing that Baby Boomers are most likely to actively use Facebook, while Instagram usage has now topped Twitter

As you might notice, there hasn’t been a significant change when it comes to social media platforms pre-2016 to today. Facebook remains #1, with YouTube coming in second, and Pinterest third. However, there was a battle for fourth place between Twitter and Instagram, and Instagram won out.

But, how about social media influence? How many Boomers are swayed by social media, and how much time do they spend there? Are they immune to the digital forces that compel me to watch funny cat videos and then buy unnecessary (objectively speaking) clothing all day? If so, what is their secret to resisting?

38% of Baby Boomers now use social media more than one hour each day, and many are influenced by social media in regards to their clothing and food purchases.

As you can see, there has been growth in every single social media influence category over the years. That might not be too surprising, but personally, I find it noteworthy.

Two other notes:

1) The number of Baby Boomers who use social media more than one hour each day jumped from 31% to 38%. That’s an overall percentage increase exceeding 20%.

2) Though Baby Boomers are more influenced by social media in their purchases than ever before, two specific categories stick out to me. Baby Boomers who are influenced regarding clothing and accessory purchases saw a sharp rise, as did Baby Boomers influenced toward food purchases.

All of this seems to support the notion that Baby Boomers are increasingly active in today’s social media sphere. Though not at the point of Millennials and Gen Z, many Baby Boomers are aching to engage in a digital world which, unfortunately, too often ignores them.

From a basic respect point of view, this oversight is distressing, and from a business standpoint, this oversight passes a large constituency of brand loyal consumers.

Whatever your motive may be, it’s time to stop ignoring this essential generation that paved the way for many of us. 

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