Go get your audience (before Kanye West does)

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Emily Mongan
Emily Mongan

When you ask seniors for their take on twerking, Kanye West and social media, you're bound to get some colorful answers.

Those questions were recently posed to residents of an assisted living facility in New Jersey, and the answers were filmed to create what I thought was one of the most entertaining parts of the American Health Care Association's recent convention in San Antonio.

In the style of one of my favorite YouTube series, Elders React, residents were asked questions such as, “What is a lumbersexual?” and “What style of dance is twerking?” The seniors, unsurprisingly, weren't totally up to date with the latest trends. But when they were asked what the “new” forms of communication were, the tables turned.

One woman listed off Twitter and Facebook, while another gushed about how she had a Facebook profile and how interesting she found it.

“I see where my daughter-in-law goes. I see what she spends,” she laughed. “I spy on her.”

Had that video been made 10 years ago, the answers undoubtedly would have been different. According to a Pew Research Center report released last week, 35% of adults older than 65 say they're on social media, compared to 11% in 2010 and just 2% in 2005.

The social media strides made by seniors over the past decade pose an interesting question: When your target market is seniors, should social media be part of your marketing strategy? A few years ago, the answer would have been a resounding no — your resources were best spent in other areas.

But a story published last week on Inc.com says the recent wave of seniors taking to social media, and the potential growth that is to come, should be a sign for those trying to capture the attention of an older demographic. While the majority of seniors still aren't online, the demographic could be one of the most “undervalued” in the marketing world, the article notes. And if the steady increase of social media savvy seniors over the past few years is any indicator, even more will turn to the web in the future.

Long story short, if you're trying to sell something to seniors, it may be time to make social media your friend. If your company is already using social media, consider shifting your strategy to tap into this fresh market.

It might not bring new customers to your doorstep in droves, but it will at least make those on social media platforms aware of your business — and that's more than can be said for Kanye.

Emily Mongan is Staff Writer at McKnight's. Follow here @emmongan.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.