February 12, 2009, 12:00 AM

Baby boomers are more likely to consume than create online social content

More than 60% of Baby Boomers view or listen to social content. Marketers can reach them by sponsoring content where they are online, Forrester Research says in a new study.

Online retail’s abuzz with social media initiatives, yet the largest generational segment tracked by Forrester Research Inc., the 100 million-strong Baby Boomer group, is more inclined to consume than create online social content. Marketers looking to reach Boomer customers should deploy social technologies accordingly, says a new report from Forrester.

66% of surveyed online consumers aged 43 to 52 and 62% of those aged 53 to 63 report reading blogs, listening to podcasts, watching user-generated video, or reading online forums and customer ratings, according to the report, “How to reach Baby Boomers with social technologies,” by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang. 24% of younger Boomers and 14% of the older group are active in online social communities targeting their interests.

This suggests that marketers looking to reach this group should consider sponsoring or partnering with an existing community that targets the interests of consumers in this age bracket, according to Forrester. And because fewer than one in six Boomers originates social content, marketers trying to reach these consumers should consider creating social content they can react to, such as blogs or videos, instead of looking to them to create the content themselves.

Forrester notes that Boomers’ consumption of online social media and participation in social communities, though less than that of other age groups, is on the rise. That means, according to the report, that marketers can justify devoting a portion of a Boomer-targeted marketing budget to "social environments that will become more productive over time.”


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