23 February 2009

Snake Oil In Cyberspace

Forrester Research has a new probably-not-much-new report: How To Reach Baby Boomers With Social Technologies.  I haven’t read it, but Jenna Wortham of the New York Times has:

nyt Baby Boomers, Luddites? Not So Fast.
A recent report from Forrester Research indicates that while it might be tempting to categorize all aging Americans as techno-dinosaurs and Luddites, more than 60 percent of baby boomers are avid consumers of social media like blogs, forums, podcasts and online videos.

I had first crack at commenting:

As far as Boomers being tech/web Luddites - I’ve been dispelling that silly myth for years - in my book and blog (Advertising to Baby Boomers, first published in early 2005).

But monetizing social networking sites … well, they still haven’t been able to do that with the Millennial and Gen Y demos. What makes anybody think you can do it with Boomers?

Michael S. Malone recently had something to say on this subject:

malone2 Facebook Scandal Version 2.0
But just as crucial to this strategy is step two, or what has been called Web 3.0: monetizing all of those millions of users. And here, most of these companies have hit a wall. By inculcating in their users the belief that social networks should be free, these companies are having a hard time figuring out how to make them pay.
Having failed to tackle the problem head on, these companies are now trying to get in through the back door -- in particular, selling off to advertisers all those terabytes of information about searches, interests and purchases.

Back to the comments collected by The New York Timessome fascinating ones follow mine:

Perhaps … it is simply a case of older users being a bit more savvy about marketing ploys, social networking, and the intermixing of the two.

Sounds like my take on WOMM: For every duplicitous WOMM post exposed, thousands go undetected. Even a lowly blog like this one has been infected by such sleazy business tactics.

…Marketers should be looking at niche sites that draw boomers…

Sounds like my book:

bookex1

bookex2

I’m an instructor of technology as well, and believe it or not there are … clueless twenty-somethings when it comes to applications ... Just because you can use Facebook or MySpace hardly makes you technology-savvy.

I’ve blogged this subject.  From 2007:

An Award Winner
logo_npr On NPR recently there was a report about students who were given laptops instead of textbooks. While these kids certainly knew how to download music, hang out at Facebook, and play video games – they had real problems opening up and using a word processing program. Many had no idea how to save a document. And when they did save it, they couldn’t find it again to open and work on it – or figure out how to print it.

This raises two issues for me; one about the attitudes of younger people toward me and technology and the second about the flailing about of “marketing” types who continue to refuse to understand why many of us Boomers refuse to buy their snake oil in cyberspace … Don’t sell to me when I’m trying to share research findings with colleagues, or when I’m trying to answer students’ questions, or when I’m trying to catch up with the latest events in my daughter’s life. The value of such connections cannot be monetized. Get over it.

And there’s this:

Boomer communications are personal in nature.
wsEighty-four percent of boomer recommendations are made face-to-face and 82 percent by phone, as opposed to 45 percent that are made online. With boomer recommendations so rich with personal opinions, companies can reap the full benefits of positive buzz by ensuring that their customers are completely informed of all key features, capabilities and benefits of the company's products and services.

For the umpteenth time 

The Most Effective Marketing/Advertising Model For Reaching Baby Boomers: What is now called traditional advertising pushing you to an age-friendly, informative product/services web site.