Net2 Think Tank Round-up: Age Segmentation in Social Networking

Claire Sale's picture

For this month's Net2 Think Tank, we asked you to share your thoughts and best practices for reaching a particular age group online. We are hoping to understand what tools or practices appeal to different age groups and how organizations can best target their online efforts to those audiences. This round-up is a summary of the responses we received from the community and it will hopefully serve to help you re-think the ways that you're targeting your limited audience.

While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're alway welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Age Segmentation in Online Fundraising

We received some really interesting insights into this topic as it relates to online fundraising. Elaine Bergman, from Innovative Grant Writing & Nonprofit Services, responded to our question on Linkedin:

"Your best approach is to understand your demographic - maybe through your analytics, and then to use the approaches that appeal to them".

To that end, she suggested that online fundraisers interested in audience differentiation take a look at a recent White Paper from Convio called The Next Generation of Online Giving. The paper outlines four different age groups and relates their giving habits compared to their preferred method of giving. It really is a fascinating report and it indicates that social networking and mobile are emerging fundraising and information channels for younger people, while direct mail is more pertinent to older people.

In a later conversation (which was unfortunately not public on Linkedin), Elaine also shared several other resources for information gathering about online fundraising:

Back on the linkedin thread, Mazarine Treyz from Wild Woman Fundraising said:

"Certain tools appeal to younger people, and certain tools to older people. When we think about "The Silent Generation", born between 1920 and 1939, these are the people that want little to do with e-appeals, they're more interested in a phonecall, in my experience. This is usually because they are less comfortable with technology. When it comes to text donations, I think you'll find younger people are more active in this arena, because they're more comfortable with texts. When I worked at a domestic violence nonprofit, the majority of donations that we received online were from people in the 45-60s age bracket, aka the Boomers. So Boomers are more comfortable giving online than "The Silent Generation."

Mazarine's experience seems to match the advice from both Elaine and Convio's paper pretty closely: People over 70 want to interact offline - over the phone or through direct mail, at least in terms of charitable giving. And, the younger the donor, the more willing they are to use new technologies to give, with the youngest feeling most comfortable with text message donations. Importantly, though, it is the Boomers that give the most-- and they are increasingly more comfortable making charitable contributions over the internet.

Age Segmentation in Online Resources

Despite the online fundraising evidence from Mazarine and Elaine, we know that there are many, many older people using the internet to gather information and receive services and I wonder how we can best target them? And, what evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, do we have to say what's working and what's not?

David DeVore suggested that we take a look at FloH Club, a telephone-based computer support tool for seniors, as a resource targeting an older audience. It is interesting to note the tactics that this service is employing to appeal to an older audience:

  1. Offline resources - Using the telephone as the primary line of support
  2. Celebrity endorsement - from Florence Henderson
  3. A strong emphasis on personal security

There are quite a few senior-friendly tools available, but this is the first that I've seen be so highly targeted to an older audience. Do you know of other tools that successfully target an older (or a younger) audience? Tell us about the tool in the comments below, and please share why you think it's so successful!

About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.