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Do you think it is wise for a company to invest in blogs, forums and other social type media for a market that is generally over 55? The website is product based and they want to expand the experience to include community type engagement. Do you think that age group would use these features on website that is also product focused?
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Good Idea!! but in India, only 2-4% of population of that age group (above 55) are using internet. So the company might get benefits after 10-15 yrs.
Interesting, but I am not sure if Deborah is targeting India specifically. If yes then I also agree with Pravin.
Also even in global context. I have a feeling that senior citizens normally have reduced capability of exploring things in the wild. Which might be an issue for older people to effectively use social features. Usually they prefer methodical approach of doing things.
I think social media can be successful for markets over 55. But it's important to understand how the market socializes and not attempt a model that works for 20-30 year olds. Mature adults may not "get" a facebook-type experience with it's unstructured, quick-hit interactions, but feel right at home in classmates.com where conversations are extended and focused. In short, I think the question is not IF social media can work, but HOW it can best relate.
As someone in this age range who just spent the week in a retirement community with her 90 year old mother......Maybe.

I am online a lot, and involved in a lot of social networking communities (this being one example). I am probably unusual for the population being a bit of a techie and involved with computers most of my life.

I do not particularly like social networking sites - but they serve a function for me that is mostly professional.

I have a few friends who are on Facebook or linked in, but not many much older than I am.

The people who are older that I know are still very much into the face-to-face or telephone aspect of relationships (and my mother writs hundreds of letters). While many older people are now using computers, it is often in very specific ways and for very specific purposes - most often to keep in touch with distant and younger family members. They seem to have little or no interest in communicating with people they do not know already.

I suspect that this will change, but not in the next year. Maybe when I am ready to retire in five years or so????
They seem to have little or no interest in communicating with people they do not know already
I found this comment by Suzi very interesting. and actually agree with it. I have seen my grandparents even my parents finding it difficult to mix freely with people whose background they don't know from reliable sources. I observed this in real life, and I believe this behavior will only intensify when it comes to online interaction. Although I don't have any data to support this.

Suzi Shapiro said:
As someone in this age range who just spent the week in a retirement community with her 90 year old mother......Maybe.

I am online a lot, and involved in a lot of social networking communities (this being one example). I am probably unusual for the population being a bit of a techie and involved with computers most of my life.

I do not particularly like social networking sites - but they serve a function for me that is mostly professional.

I have a few friends who are on Facebook or linked in, but not many much older than I am.

The people who are older that I know are still very much into the face-to-face or telephone aspect of relationships (and my mother writs hundreds of letters). While many older people are now using computers, it is often in very specific ways and for very specific purposes - most often to keep in touch with distant and younger family members. They seem to have little or no interest in communicating with people they do not know already.

I suspect that this will change, but not in the next year. Maybe when I am ready to retire in five years or so????
Social media for 55+ aged users sounds interesting and challenging due to various important factors —

> Inclination towards technology is quite limited and often negative

> Trust factor is also a big question, as rightly pointed out by Suzi and Suman, when it comes to socializing online

> Bulk of the target users are mostly teens, youngsters and tech-savvy executives like most of us. Hence, a lot of focus is given to designing product (like social media) which have variety of features with lots of quick shortcuts.

> Most of social networking sites require the users to visit the site for communicating and collaborating. Few sites offer notifications via email, SMS, etc. but for replying/interacting or to proceed further, they request users to follow the website links. And in my opinion, lot many times, the users do not follow the links or atleast delay the same which is actually quite sad.

> A product based website can target such & other users by providing evaluation tools like product comparisons & other information like testimonials, etc. which will help them associate themselves with the product much easily. I believe, if you can persuade the users then only half the battle is won but the most important and decisive factor will be the "Trust".

In other words, you can design & develop modules for engaging and influencing the users to use/buy your products/services by providing them helpful tools which will not only aid their decision-making, apart from networking, but will also provide you enough incentives to take extra efforts towards developing such modules.
50+ community websites could be an interesting area however the traffic frequency im sure would be alot less frequent to that of say Facebook. It would need to be emotively advertised to be part of their lives...
While I wouldn't say that companies should definitively not think about social media for 60+ users, I would be cautious about it. In addition to the words of caution about general adoption in the previous comments, there are certainly usage differences which create those patterns. Put more plainly, older users simply aren't as comfortable with technology (in general) and haven't grown to be comfortable with or come to expect web 2.0 interactions as normal. This doesn't mean that it can't be useful, but it does make it more difficult and may dictate some different approaches. I'm working with a company in the financial/insurance arena now to put together a strategic plan for how to roll out web 2.0 ideas. They know that there is a wave of new young customers and employees coming in the next few years, so we're focusing on that demographic at the "expense" of the older demographic given limited time, budget, and resources.

On a related note, our Chief of Technical Staff, Susan Weinschenk has done some research in to generational differences that would impact this. Put simply, younger users have different experiences and expectations than older users, and those differences affect their use and adoption of web sites.
Susan Weinschenk, HFI Chief of Technical Staff, and Katie Hill, Director of Technical Services, recently did a webcast on generational differences. They discuss the the generational dilemma and who to design for.

Companies are often challenged with designing for at least 3 demographics with different needs, interests, and ways of interacting with technology:

* Baby Boomers
* Generation X
* Net Generation (a.k.a. Millennials, Generation Y)

Ironically, Generation X is the smallest population segment but often the one responsible for designing most websites. It's rare to have the luxury of focusing on only one age group, though. So understanding generational differences is a key to creating sites that are usable, persuasive, and engaging.

HFI has been conducting exploratory research about the impact of generational differences on Web design. In the webcast, Susan and Katie examine each group's tendencies, attitudes, and expectations towards technology. They share findings, ideas, and examples describing similarities and differences between the groups and offer thought-provoking takeaways for user experience design.

View webcast or download whitepaper here.

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