Here at the Advant offices, we find that our clients’ social media activity is far from standardised. Some advisers use social media extensively, having staff with formal management responsibilities, some use social media as simply another contact channel with existing clients, and some don’t use it at all. When we ask the question “do you use social media in your practice?” we get answers ranging from long lists of different platforms, to “no – our clients don’t, so why should we?”

With the latter response, there seems to be an assumption that a client base ‘of a certain age’ is not using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other platforms. In other words, practices that serve mostly Boomer or Gen X and Boomer clients don’t think it’s worth the time developing their social media presence. The truth is somewhat different, as several independent and agency research reports show.

Demographics

Australian site SocialMediaNews.com.au publishes monthly updates on social media usage statistics. According to the latest available stats, there are 3.8 million LinkedIn users, 15 million active Facebook users, 5 million Instagram users and 2.8 million Twitter users in Australia. This is the first clue that social media use isn’t confined to Gen Y and millennials. Putting this into perspective, to get a Facebook account, you have to be at least 13 years old. According to the last Census, there are only around 8.7 million people aged between 10 and 39[i].

According to the latest Sensis Social Media Report[ii], 88% of users aged 65+ and 87% of those 50-64 have a Facebook page. Of those aged 50+, most access social media on multiple devices. The vast majority of Gen Xers and baby boomers expect to maintain or increase the time they spend on social media in the future.

Usage statistics

Frequency of using social media sites 18-29 30-39 40-49 50-64 65+
At least once a day 79% 64% 49% 37% 17%
Most days 3% 5% 2% 4% 5%
A few times a week 2% 8% 12% 7% 8%
About once a week <1% 5% 4% 1% 6%
Less often than weekly 1% 5% 5% 8% 3%

 

What does it mean for your business?

First, it’s worth looking at how generation X and baby boomer clients interact with businesses on social media. More and more boomers see a business’s Facebook page as a primary point of contact, using the page to lodge comments and compliments, review the business’s services, and contact staff. A study by HubSpot revealed that up to 70% of baby boomers expect a business to have a Facebook page, or believe that a good business should have a Facebook page[iii].

The important point here is that people of all ages actively use social media. But frequency of usage is still an important consideration, because it can help shape your strategy. If your audience logs in more regularly, you might consider producing a more consistent stream of content, or leaving your business’s news feed page open at work so you can respond instantly to queries and comments.

It’s also interesting to note the time of day at which older audiences tend to check their social media accounts. For example, only 21% of users aged 50-64 save their social media time for breaks at work (tea breaks, etc.), compared to 46% of those aged 18-29.

Whilst it’s usually good to be contrarian and treat industry trends with a healthy degree of scepticism, you can learn from what successful practices in your field are doing. If the market leader in your area has a strong social media presence, posting often and engaging with their audience in detail, chances are there’s a documented reason why they’re investing so much. Plus, as the saying goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it – if you don’t have a presence, potential clients won’t be able to find you when they’re using those aforementioned platforms.

[i] http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/quickstat/0
[ii] https://www.sensis.com.au/assets/PDFdirectory/Sensis_Social_Media_Report_2015.pdf
[iii] 2014: http://www.slideshare.net/HubSpot/the-social-lifecycle-consumer-insights-to-improve-your-business