A few weeks back, our class assignment involved commenting on the GQ article featuring “digital natives” who were developing new and innovative social media apps. Interestingly, one of the articles that appeared on my radar this week, when preparing this blogpost, showcased the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 & 1964) and its impact on technology and social media.
Dr. Karen Riggs, a self-disclosed Boomer and a professor of media studies at Ohio University, recently authored a book which focuses on the Boomers and their adoption of technology. Riggs notes that most Boomers are technologically adapt, having been introduced to personal technology in the workplace in their 30s and 40s. They have worked with the earlier technologies (e.g. Windows 95 and Palm Pilots) during their careers, and therefore are likely to also “get” today’s technology.
In fact, the article describes Boomers as discriminating early adopters of technology, who are more likely to ultimately embrace core technologies, such as Facebook and texting, than more cutting edge products like FourSquare.
Finally, the author emphasized that her generation will continue to need to be heard, and is willing to do so in a fragmented way. Boomers may still communicate with their elders on a traditional personal level, but then also embrace the newer social technologies to communicate with their children and grandchildren.
With significant spending power and this penchant for communicating, the impact of this “digital immigrant” generation on future social media endeavours may still be largely underexplored.
As a Boomer myself, I would be interested a dialogue on the following questions:
- How could some of today’s newer social media technologies be retooled to take advantage of the underserved Boomer market?
- What opportunities exist for Gen X and Millennial entrepreneurs to “reach backward” and tap into an underserved need for their parents’ generation, instead of trying to discover the newest trend for their generation(s)?