The huge number of senior citizens coming to social networks is inspiring new online services.

Seniors and social networks: increasing opportunities for startups


The report from the Pew Research Center points to a considerable increase in the use of social networks on the part of adult Internet users. Some 72% of Internet-connected adults now use them, up from just 8% in 2005. The type of network they use varies according to age, with 70% using Facebook – which is easier to access – compared with 18% who make use of Twitter. The ongoing increase in the number of seniors on these networks appears to constitute a powerful trend, and this is encouraging many companies to develop online services to meet their needs.

Seniors triple their presence in three years

While the report reveals an overall increase in the number of adults using social networks, the most significant growth is among senior citizens. Between 2009 and 2013 the number of people 65 and older who have a social network account has more than tripled, from 13% to 43%.  The actual percentages of the younger age groups on the networks are higher, but the increase in use by seniors is way above the average for all Internet users, which has progressed from 60% to 72% over the same period. This late spurt has resulted in seniors closing the gap somewhat with the other age groups. Today six out of every ten Internet users between 50 and 64 years of age and 43% of those 65 and older use social networks. The majority of seniors use Facebook primarily to communicate with their families and prefer Facebook to Twitter, which requires more effort from the user to interact with others.

Development of services on social networks designed for seniors

Dubbed "Marketing’s most valuable generation" by the Nielsen Boomers Report published last year, seniors are becoming a more easily targetable group for many service and e-commerce companies as they steadily move towards use of social networks. True Link, a company which ensures scam-free financial transactions by providing a filtering system that is updated online, is one example. There is also a growing number of opportunities in the healthcare sector, such as Senior Care Central, a social network program which connects seniors in need of care with nursing students at local universities, so that the students can arrange to provide ad hoc care for patients in their own homes. A recent study from Georgia State University revealed that 75% of the total wealth of the United States is in the hands of people aged 55 and over. Neither established companies nor startups can therefore afford to ignore this age group when they are drawing up their digital strategies.


By Thomas Meyer
Journalist, Business Analyst