Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Facebook with Wrinkles

In the Brave New World report we intimated that the ‘silver surfers’ should not be forgotten as they had; higher disposable income, more leisure time, propensity to reading and were signing up to broadband services and the internet in droves. Some may say that targeteting the youth market was like herding cats. The New York Times today take the viewpoint further and reports that Silicon Valley’s technology investors and entrepreneurs, are starting a host of new social networking sites aimed at baby boomers and ‘graying’ computer users. They are creating Facebook with wrinkles!

The sites such as Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Maya’s Mom, Boomj, TeeBeeDee and Boomertown are starting to attract attention and big investment dollars.
In the US there are around three times as many silver surfers (78 million boomers) than the number of teenagers. According to a market research firm Nielsen/NetRatings, the number of Internet users over 55 is roughly the same as those who are aged 18 to 34. Older user will also want a different experience and not always feel comfortable with the younger and hip MySpace, Facebook, Bebo or Friendster offers. Their social conversation and the topic too the older user wants to discuss will also be different to the teenager. Its also doubtful whether they will get a fulfilling experience engaging with the teenagers on their subjects.

These developments should be very important to publishers and are sustainable ones which support their current reader base. The question is whether the young marketing turks can and will relate to the needs of an older audience or continue to chase ‘me too’ offers?