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What the Pew Internet Reseach Report on Older Americans Online Didn’t Say

Just a few days ago, Pew Internet Research released its research on older Americans online. You can download a pdf of the full report here. The 13-page report has some interesting findings. Just about half (47%) of online users 50-64 are now using social networking sites like Facebook.

When I look at the report, it isn’t the numbers that strike me. What the report doesn’t cover is the fact that older Americans online open up a whole new age group of influencers with repeat access to a community message. Since older Americans are more likely to give to a cause than their younger counterparts, that is good news for nonprofits and faith-based organizations. Cultivating a habit of communicating online can develop the influencers in that group to become evangelists for your cause. That’s great news to organizations that are looking to develop more influencers online.

The other takeaway that isn’t immediately evident by the research is the implication to organizations that are using social media to spread their messages. With the increased presence of an older generation online, we are now stretched to come up with ways to engage them. Will the same methods we use to engage younger people online work for them? Do we need to re-think our communication strategies to catch the ears and eyes of this older demographic?

I think the next step in the process is to engage in a conversation that speaks about how to engage that older population online. Maybe we need to re-think some of what we’re doing? I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m going to give it some thought. What do you think?