Take note! Social networking among older adults is on the rise

If you think social networking is an effective means of reaching only your donors under 40, you may want to re-think your strategy. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled, from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010. Perhaps even more interesting is that use of social networking by adults ages 65 and older grew 100% from 13% to 26% during that same period.

What does this mean for nonprofits hoping to get noticed through social networking platforms? Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, and direct mail and e-mail contact may still be the best way to get the attention of your donors ages 50+. But marketing through social media is an extremely effective and inexpensive way to capture and share ideas with your donors and keeps them updated and engaged in the latest at your organization.

Lesson? Don’t assume that because your favorite donor is over 50 that she doesn’t use Facebook. Segment your donors by age and experiment with how the different age groups use and respond to you on Twitter, etc. and adjust your strategy accordingly. Share videos, short testimonials and triumphs. Let it be a way for your donors to truly get a feel for the culture and personality of your organization.

Don’t have the time? Many nonprofits are utilizing the expertise of young people as interns to get them set up with an initial social media plan. It’s a win-win for both sides as long as the long-term staff can maintain the communications at some level after the intern has left.

If your organization hasn’t yet (gasp) claimed your space on the wonderful world of ‘Face’ it is past time to jump on board. The website has grown to serve more than 500 million active users (the population of the entire EU!)

If you’re feeling stuck, check out Beth Kanter’s blog, the leading authority on social media for nonprofits, for ideas on how to maximize your fundraising efforts using social media. She has also co-written a book, “The Networked Nonprofit” with author Beth Fine.

We’d love to know what creative ideas your organization uses to connect. That is, if you’re willing to share!

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