Middle-aged Aussies and Social Media – report

by Lee Hopkins on September 28, 2009 · 9 comments

in academic research,reviews

click on the image to visit the Forrester site and read more about this fabbo report My good mate and all-round fine fellow Steven Noble has written another cracker research report for Forrester.

He had previously written ‘Australian Adult Social Technographics® Revealed’, which I have reviewed previously.

Now off the press comes “Midlife Australians Flock To Social Media: Thirty-five- to 54-Year-Olds Add Social Networks To Their Online Routine”, a follow-up to Jeremiah Owyang’s “How To Reach Baby Boomers With Social Technologies

Here’s the executive summary:

Midlife Australians are online and active. This follows a year of rapid change in which Australians aged 35 to 54 increased the time they spend with the Internet along with their use of social media. Today, most online Australian adults regularly use social media in some way. Many midlife Australians visit social networks and consume content, but far fewer engage in more challenging online activities like creating content. To win them over, interactive marketers should distribute compelling digital content and experiences across every channel, from social networks to corporate Web sites, popular content sites, and email.

Which is all well and good, but where the real value in the report comes is deeper inside it.

For example (and not to steal Steven’s thunder or copyright), the number of ‘Inactives’  in Forrester’s ladder of social media types (see the ladder below)has dropped significantly – across every demographic there has been drops, but it is amongst the 35-44 and 45-54 that the drops are the largest: a 10% drop each!  Last year these two demographics had ‘Inactives’ of 33% and 39% respectively; this year (as at Q2) they were sitting at 23% and 29% respectively.

Forrester's ladder of social media types

But the ‘belter’ for me is the equally strong finding that the online activities of we middle-agers is now focused on two activities: using social networks (such as Facebook) and consuming social content (such as found on Wikipedia, for example).

And to further back up our ‘middle-aged’ power, we are now spending 18+3/4 hours a week online, and the gap between us consuming ‘traditional’ media and new media is just about closed (traditional media has a very slight edge at the moment, but I’m guessing that by the time the next survey is taken that gap will have closed, or even swung the other way).

The implications
If the David Jones’ and Myer’s of this Australian world want to communicate with us (and our wallets) they need to get a few things right:

  • Give us high-value content – we have neither the time nor the interest in looking at pretty pictures if they don’t relate to us or don’t allow us to interact with them in some way. Similarly, we want to know the details about the products: materials used, colours available, help with purchasing or recommending decisions, and so on. Just shoving a catalogue up online and expecting us to fall over ourselves in awe of your munificence is, as the wonderful Lilly Allen puts it, ‘unlikely in this day and age’.
  • Make it easy to interact with you – as pointed out above, if you are going to give us ‘calls to action’ then make it easy for us to actually take action; ‘visit your nearest store for more information’ is just not going to cut it anymore. The bar has been raised higher, we expect and demand more – give it to us or we will elsewhere to someone who will.
  • Talk with us, not to us, where we hang out, not where you would like us to hang out – we are now consuming your content in all sorts of different places, so have the courtesy and good sense to find out where we are and how we want that content delivered. This means making sure that any content you do create can be ‘repurposed’ to fit into any online environment that we are hanging out in. Don’t make assumptions or rely on US-focused reports about where we are, either – ask us, find out yourselves about we Australians and Kiwis and where we hang out. We often replicate US online behaviour more than, for example, UK or European online behaviour (this is according to Bill Tancer, General Manager of Global Research at Hitwise, and author of the fabbo book click: what we do online and why it matters), but do not ‘assume’ – remember the old adage ‘assume make an ass out of you and me’.

Jeremiah Owyang backs me up on the last point in his own report, ‘How to reach baby boomers with social technologies’:

“Carnival Cruise Lines’ Senior Cruise Director John Heald shares his experiences at sea in addition to the company’s offering of special deals for his fan base”

Carnival Cruise Lines offers a special cruise for fans of its top corporate blogger, John Heald, who can join a special Caribbean cruise with an itinerary catered to their interests. Source: Carnival Cruise Lines

Do yourself a huge favour and grab a copy of Steven’s report today; there’s a shed load of good numbers and charts in there that make it a ‘must have’ for agencies and their clients.


Disclaimer: Sarah McAllan at Forrester very kindly provided me with review copies of both Steven’s and Jeremiah’s reports that were mentioned in this post. Thanks, Sarah!

music note While writing this, I was listening to "Hold You Back" by Status Quo



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