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How Seniors Use Social Media
Source: Revera Inc

How Seniors Use Social Media |10 Surprising Learnings


Based on 5 years trend data analysis of the Sensis Social Media Report.

Forget all your preconceptions about How Seniors Use Social Media. Here are 10 surprising learnings to help you reach and engage with seniors on social media.

Seniors are defined as those aged 50+. A sample size of 320 respondents aged 50+ were included each year in the telephone research survey by Sensis out of a total sample of 800 people. The survey has been conducted annually since 2011 in all key metropolitan and regional areas and weighted to reflect the total Australian population.

Firstly, so they actually use social media?

Um, yes. Overall frequency of using social media is increasing, especially “At least once a day” over the last few years. Amongst those aged 50 – 64, it has increased from 15% in 2011 to 37% in 2015. Even those aged 65+ “At least once a day” usage has also increased from 5% to 17% during the same period.

Which social media platforms do they use?

Facebook is the dominant platform across all age groups, especially so amongst those aged 50+. On average for those aged 50+, Facebook usage incidence has been approximately 95% each year over the last five years, just marginally below the incidence for the total sample.

Facebook usage frequency decreases with age, but is still averaging usage of more than once/day amongst seniors. Average Facebook usage frequency in 2015 is 31 times/week across the total sample, compared to 20 times/week for those aged 50 -64 and 11 times/week for 65+.

How many friends/contacts/followers do they have?

There is greater volatility amongst those aged 50+ in the number of social media friends/contacts/followers on a year by year basis as seen in the chart below.  Overall they have a smaller number in comparison to younger age groups. In 2015, those aged 65+ have 60 followers, 50 – 64 have 190, compared to the total sample which has 297.

How Seniors Use Social Media

On what device/s do they access social media?

Across all age groups, accessing social media via desktop computers has declined significantly over the last five years. In contrast, accessing via a smartphone or iPad/tablet has increased significantly.

in 2015, those aged 65+ access social media via a laptop 48%, followed by a desktop 45%, iPad/tablet 28%, then a smartphone 11%. In contrast, for 50 -64, it is laptops first 60%, followed by smartphone 56%, iPad/tablet 40%, then desktop at 34% as seen in the chart below.

How Seniors Use Social Media

What time of the day do they access social media?

For seniors, the key access times are first thing in the morning, as well as after work/in the evening and last thing before bed. Younger age groups access peaks during the same times but is a little more spread throughout the day. Specifically for them there is greater usage during the day covering: commuting, during work, during breaks and at lunchtime.

Where are they most likely to access social media?

Following on from the time of day, for seniors unsurprisingly the dominant place to access social media is at home. The same holds true for younger age groups, but also they have greater usage outside the home, i.e. At work, on public transport, in restaurants, bars, parties at sporting events and in the car.

Inside the home, where is it most likely to be used?

For seniors, it is accessed primarily in the loungeroom/living room or study and they are less likely to do so whilst watching TV. In comparison, younger age groups are more likely to access social media via a greater number of places in the home, including the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and yes, even the toilet.

Main reasons to use social media?

With increased familiarity and usage of social media, over the past five years seniors are finding a greater number of reasons to use social media.

Catching up with family/friends, sharing photographs/videos and getting information on news and current events are the main reasons to use social media across all age groups.

Seniors overall tend to use social media for the same reasons as younger age groups with a couple of exceptions. They are less likely to use it for: Coordinating parties & shared activities, finding out about entertainment events and following celebrities as seen in the table below.

How Seniors Use Social Media

Do they read online reviews & blogs?

Seniors are just as likely to read on line reviews & blogs as younger age groups. 55% of the total sample agree with the statement.

Do they post online reviews & blogs

They are also just as likely to provide an online rating or post an online review & blog as younger age groups (24% and 27% of the total sample respectively).

Download the full 2015 Sensis Social Media Report 

Download the full 2014 Sensis Social Media Report

by Konrad Markham

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