Do you ever wonder what your high school sweetheart, quarterback, class clown, cheerleading captain, class nerd, and valedictorian are up to these days? You may have lost touch with these people over the years but all is not lost. Baby boomers and beyond are finding social networking sites appealing for the same reasons most people do – to stay in touch with people. They are interested in reconnecting with old friends and classmates whom they haven’t talked to in more than 30 years.Currently, 16.5 million adults age 55 and older engage in social networking, according to Internet monitoring site comScore. A consumer survey of U.S. consumers from the NPD group, Inc., a leading provider of reliable consumer research, shows that 61% of baby boomer Internet users (age 44 to 61) had visited sites that offer streaming or downloadable video, while 41% had visited social networks.
There are helpful, even enjoyable and easy-to-use, Web sites that offer social benefits such as networking opportunities, research tools, and helpful articles on everything from retirement to long term care. These sites allow you to sign up and join, meet others, post articles etc, while others provide access to useful information regarding life after 55. The industry experts at After 55™ Housing and Resource Guide and SeniorOutlook.com continue to stay abreast of new media trends and want to provide you with a list of social networking sites that can benefit you.
Facebook is a place to connect online with your friends and family to share updates, photos, videos, articles, polls and games. According to Facebook, their fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older. According to iStrategyLabs, Facebook has a user base of 18.1 million users, and the number of users age 55 and over has grown from a negligible 950,000 to 5.9 million in a mere six months, which equates to a 513.7% increase.
Once connected with friends, family and employees, you will receive notification as they update their Facebook “status” and upload photos, which enables you to maintain an online relationship and stay connected with them. In addition to the social features like sharing photos and looking for old friends, there are plenty of ways to also tap into the professional community.
LinkedIn is an online network of more than 40 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing multiple industries. According to Quantcast, users age 35-49 make up 49% of LinkedIn’s traffic, while users age 50+ make up 31%. When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments. The site is a great professional networking resource that allows you to connect with other people looking to explore potential business opportunities.
Your profile helps you find and be found by former colleagues, clients, and partners. You can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. LinkedIn allows a person to find jobs and business opportunities. Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates. Job seekers can review the profiles of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them.
This real-time micro-blogging site allows you to follow and connect with interesting people and can become a very good source of information. It can be used much like Facebook to keep up with your friends and family, but you can also get breaking news updates from sites such as the New York Times, CNN and Fox News, or follow your favorite celebrities like Oprah. Stay up to date on health care, retirement, housing solutions and more by following sites like AARP. Twitter is also appealing to business professionals seeking to expand their network and share information with colleagues.
Twitter allows users to send “tweets,” or text-based messages up to 140 characters long answering the simple question of “What are you doing now?” People do everything from sharing monotonous and routine details of every day life to alerting people to breaking news or consumer product launches. These “tweets” are then displayed on your profile page and delivered to other users who are “following” you (essentially, subscribing to receive your tweets). Also, you can follow (subscribe) to the tweets of anyone you want, from family and friends, to Oprah, major Web sites, big brands and more.
Confused yet? It’s ok. Basically, Twitter is like an online cocktail party, a text message or like a Facebook status update, with which you can keep people up-to date with your life.
AARP Online Community
The AARP.org Online Community offers users an exciting environment where users can easily connect with AARP members age 50+. AARP’s ever-growing Online Community encourages users to meet new adult friends and socialize with one another by sharing photos and videos, playing online games, seeking advice, writing in a journal, and much more. The Online Community is a great place to meet new people, share experiences, and opinions, and talk about what they’re going through, whether it’s a single’s perspective later in life, dealing with adult children, or health-care issues. Registration is free and AARP membership is not required. 58% of AARP members age 50 and older access to their Online Community daily or several times a day, compared to 47 % of members younger than 20, according to an AARP/Center for the Digital Future 2008 study.
This site offers many similar features and functionalities as Facebook; however Eons.com is boomer-specific just like the AARP Online Community. The site allows users to express themselves through their social profile and share different aspects of their life, while also having control over of the privacy settings. In addition, Eons.com enables users to partake in group discussions, maintain and read blogs, share photos and videos, and even play games. Another great feature of Eons.com is that members can sign up to receive alerts when someone from a particular area passes away or in response to pre-defined keywords such as a company or school name.
There are also a few boomer specific tools like LifePath and the Eons Longevity & Life Expectancy Calculator. The Longevity Calculator asks 40 quick questions related to your health, lifestyle and family history and allows users to discover how many years they still have to achieve their dreams. Once the questionnaire is completed, Eons will send you your average life expectancy along with personalized advice to living longer and healthier.
Whether it’s re-connecting with old high school friends or staying in touch with children and grandchildren on Facebook, or maybe it’s empty-nesters planning events or perhaps reading helpful articles from everything from retirement to long term care, these social networking sites are here to assist you with the changes in your life. Online relationships become very beneficial, especially when it comes to retirement, health and family members moving away. The social media adoption rate is going up for all generations and is expected to have high growth in the coming years, so get connected and start networking online today!