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Filter - March 2015

Social Media Marketing: Looking Ahead

To grasp the explosive growth of social media over the past decade, and its explosive importance to marketers, look no further than Facebook. From a social networking service for college students in 2004, Facebook has matured into today’s leader of social media—with an established monthly user base of 1.2 billion. People around the world now use Facebook not only for social networking, but also for keeping up with news, current events, communities, and businesses they like. For marketers, it means that Facebook and other social media platforms must be a central channel for doing business, not an afterthought in their marketing mix.

While the social media channel affords marketers incredible new opportunities for reaching customers, it also requires marketers to understand how the individual platforms are evolving and where they are heading. Industry analysts predict that, over the next few years, use of social media will continue to expand across all age groups as generational gaps around comfort with technology close. Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram will also have enticingly wide and growing networks of new users for marketers to target and influence.

Where will we see the greatest growth in social media use? Surprisingly, experts say it will be in the oldest segment of the population: those aged 65 years and older. Currently, the 65+ segment accounts for only 8% of the demographic share in social media. But it is rapidly growing. In the next year, an additional 2 million people in this age group are expected to become social media users.

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Implications for Health Care Communications

With more and more people aged 65 and older turning to social media, health care marketers should take notice. Unbranded disease education targeted to this demographic (commonly understood to have the greater health care needs) could soon capture deeper appeal and bigger audiences in the social media channel. Marketers who embrace this changing environment will benefit by reaching more customers who are information-seekers, building greater brand awareness, and learning how to stay current and relevant in a fast-moving market.

Source: Cooper J, ed. The New Year's Social Stratosphere. ADWEEK. January 12, 2015.

—Yana Borokhov, Search