Older people are sticky.
That is the latest view from Silicon Valley. Technology investors and entrepreneurs, long obsessed with connecting to teenagers and 20-somethings, are starting a host of new social networking sites aimed at baby boomers and older people.
The sites have names such as Eons, Maya’s Mom, Boomj, and Boomertown. They look like Facebook—with wrinkles.
And they are seeking to capitalize on what investors say may be a profitable characteristic of older Internet users: They are less likely than youngsters to flit from one trendy site to the next.
“Teens are tyre kickers—they hang around, cost you money and then leave,” said Paul Kedrosky, a venture capitalist and author of the blog, Infectious Greed. Where Friendster was once the hot spot, Facebook and MySpace now draw the crowds of young people online.
Age of Internet: Baby boomers have set up their own networking sites online.
“The older demographic has a bunch of interesting characteristics,” Kedrosky added, “not the least of which is that they hang around.”
This prospective and relative stickiness is helping drive a wave of new investment into boomer and older-oriented social networking sites that offer like-minded (and like-aged) individuals discussion and dating forums, photo-sharing, news and commentary, and copious chatter about diet, fitness and health care.
Social networking has so far focused mainly on businesspeople and young people because they are tech-savvy and are treasured by Madison Avenue.
But there are 78 million boomers—roughly three times the number of teenagers—and most of them are Internet users who learnt computer skills in the workplace. Indeed, the number of Internet users who are older than 55 is roughly the same as those who are aged 18-34, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a market research firm.
TeeBeeDee’s founder is Robin Wolaner who, in 1987, created Parenting magazine. That year, at least seven magazines focused on being a parent were started, and Wolaner said she was seeing the same sudden recognition of a need for Internet publishers to respond to the demands of older Americans.
She came up with the idea for the site, she said, “when I was sitting around with friends and we said, ‘We’re not going to hang out at the AARP site. What is there for us?’” (plus, she said, she wanted to find a community where she could discuss getting an eye lift).
“There’s a recognition that this generation now uses the Internet just like younger people,” she said. “The one thing this generation hasn’t done yet is network online.”
The New York Times. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org