The Evolution of Social Media & It’s Presence Amongst Active Agers
by Anna Porter
Recently, Alive Ventures shared an article that discusses the experience and skills “Active Agers” acquire throughout their lives. It inspired me to think about the evolution of each generation’s engagement with social media platforms and associated trends. We have come to realize that savvy Active Agers are finding the value that social media can offer. It provides them with a place to share their knowledge, learn, grow, explore and experience a community that they didn’t have growing up. The question that I think about is, “as user groups mature and become more engaged in social content, will there be a tipping point where social platforms get overloaded with too many “older users?” Causing content and age targeted advertising to hit a tipping point of over saturation? Or will social media continue to evolve and grow pushing active agers to learn and understand it’s purpose?
Looking back, it’s hard to imagine a time without Google which is now used by most internet users. Experience has shown that older adults are generally slower to adapt to social media than younger generations, as evidenced by how quickly Tik Tok and Instagram caught on with the younger cohorts. Generation Z and Millennials are creating different social platforms as a way for them to share as much of their lives as possible, which is something that Active Agers are adjusting to. Research shows that Facebook has maintained its relevance among Active Agers. While they won’t admit it, the platform’s popularity will only last for as long as the older adults find it relevant.
Millennials were the first generation to join the world of social media and Facebook isn’t our social media platform of choice anymore. A Millennial developed Facebook, yet its relevance among this generation has severely dwindled largely because younger users like me got tired of seeing our mothers post comments on our personal pages! At least for the short term, Facebook will continue to be the most popular platform of its kind given its ability to keep people connected. Now that several new social media platforms are gaining traction, whether we want to admit it or not, the younger generations are setting the trends while the rest of us are playing catch up until the next big platform comes along.
When Tik Tok launched, it appealed to Generation Z a more youthful tech-savvy audience even more so than Millennials. It took some time for Tik Tok to grow in popularity with the Millennial generation because it is a confusing platform to use. We are increasingly seeing more content shared that is asking Active Agers what their thoughts are on topics such as dating and texting because the younger audiences still want and value their elders’ opinions.
Social media has provided people with the opportunity to share their lives, to get outside their comfort zone, to grow their entrepreneurial spirit and develop lifelong friendships. Closer to home, our Revolution55 community provides a forum for Active Agers to learn, grow, ask questions, and meet people with similar experiences and goals while expanding their social groups. Revolutionaries want to stay relevant, and they want to be marketed to in a meaningful and authentic way that meets their emotional and functional needs. Revolution55 gives them a forum to share their opinions with marketers to help do just that.
While over 40% of Active Agers already use Instagram, I think we will see more of them move towards this platform and likely other ones like Tik Tok. However, even those who adopt these new platforms will have concerns about their “toxicity and security/privacy”. Facebook has been under the heat for quite some time for its privacy issues, and Twitter is known as the platform that promotes arguments, encourages rants and ignites anger. I continually ask myself why I would want to be part of a community that steals my time and encourages content that can be harmful to some individuals and groups. I’m sure many new adopters will share these concerns.
Putting yourself out there for the whole world to see can be a scary thought and the reason why many people stay away from social media all together. There can also be some hesitancy by older audiences to join social media as many don’t know how to use it properly, they are afraid of making mistakes, or they find it intimidating. But I can guarantee that you are not the only ones that want to learn more. Make mistakes, ask questions and be confident about your choices even if it scares you. There will always be “the next big thing,” a trend or a new social media platform, but you have the choice to engage with it or not. The user holds all the power when choosing the content they want to share or ingest.
I do think there will be a tipping point where social platforms will get overloaded with too many users, specifically not Active Agers. There is space in social media for everyone because as soon as the next “hot” platform comes to fruition, the generation that it is relevant to will flock their first starting a chain reaction. Each cohort will learn to catch up with the generation that created it as it grows in popularity as we are all trying to stay relevant. So, set forth and be the disruptor within the social media market. Explore, create, and engage with the content that makes you happy. We hold the cards and have the freedom/imagination to make social media whatever we want it to be at any age.