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Seniors, the untapped social media market


Running an online blog I know how hard it is to get people to my site.  When I created the NH Labor News, I started with a blogger account and a Facebook page.  Now we have grown to include Twitter (@NHlabor_News), Pintrest, Google+, and Tumblr.  Why so many accounts? Because everyone has their favorite place browse, and every site has their advantage.

There is no doubt that the ‘millennial’ generation is the most active on social media websites.  They make status updates every time they sneeze!  Many of these people access the Internet through their smartphones and tablets.  As we go up in the age brackets we see a decline in the number of people who are active on social media.  I would argue that the people are there, they just choose not to post everything they are doing. With a little training the older generation can be effective messengers.

Recently Fosters Daily Democrat posted a new article that highlighted how senior are becoming more active online.

According to a Pew Research Center study from 2012, 53 percent of adults age 65 and older in the United States were using the Internet or email…. 34 percent of senior citizen Internet users utilize social networking sites such as Facebook, while 18 of those individuals do so routinely.”

The major problem with all of these seniors being online is that many of them do not know or understand how to effectively use their computers and social media accounts.

A lot of times we find that someone’s family member buys them a computer, but they are unsure how to use it,” said Krista Trefethen (assistant recreation director for the Dover Senior Center). “We’ve also seen an increase in the number of questions coming from our members relating to tablets, Nooks, and other technology.”

This is a huge opportunity for groups like the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, The New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, and the NH Alliance for Retired Americans to help teach their senior members how to effectively use their social media accounts.  Not only could they teach people how to use Facebook, but how to help push a message through their Facebook account.   This could also be a great way for seniors to become informed about issues and events in their area.


No matter how good a message is if you fans on social media accounts do not share it, the message falls flat.  With creative training sessions we could teach an entire group of people how to push our collective message.

There are significant advantages to having senior online pushing our message.  They are living the message.  When people talk about cuts to Social Security seniors know what that will mean to them, and that helps provide validity to the message.  It also shows their friends, who are in similar age bracket, how they could be affected.

There is another advantage to arming seniors with effective messaging techniques.  They do not give a crap about what other people think of them.  I took an online training session last year that talked about how to frame your blog titles for the biggest shares on Facebook.  The key was that it had to pass the ‘mom’ test.  Middle age women are the biggest sharers on Facebook, for two reasons.  They are opinionated and they are not afraid of what other people think about them after they tell you how they feel.  This is the same for seniors.  They do not care if people know they are a Republican or a Democrat. They do not care if you do not like what they have to say.

Pushing a message is more about how many times people see it. How many times have clicked on something just because everyone you know is sharing it? It is about repetition.

Through social media training from our advocacy groups we can teach people young and old how to spread your message.


NH Legislatiors Katherine Rogers and Peter Sullivan Work To Keep Your Work Out Of Your Facebook Account

Have you ever applied for a job and as part of the job interview they asked you to supply you social media passwords?  Could you imagine if they did?

You do not have to imagine it because it does happen every day.  What is worse is that some  people are being fired for posting comments about their work on Facebook.

In October of 2012 the NLRB ruled in favor of the employee after he was wrongfully fired for posting negative comments about his employer.

“The National Labor Relations Board has found that the firing of a BMW salesman for photos and comments posted to his Facebook page did not violate federal labor law, because the activity was not concerted or protected.” (1)

The NLRB also ruled in favor of the employee after he was fired for comments while off the clock.

“The case—Hispanics United of Buffalo—started one Saturday morning in 2010. That was when domestic violence advocate Mariana Cole-Rivera took to Facebook to complain that one of her co-workers was unfairly accusing fellow employees of laziness. Several other staffers at Hispanics United of Buffalo chimed in to say they worked plenty hard already. Soon after Cole-Rivera and her co-workers returned to work, HUB fired five of them, arguing that their off-the-clock comments had violated the nonprofit’s anti-harassment policy. (2)”

The good thing that has come from these cases is that, time and time again, the NRLB is ruling in favor of the employees right to free speech on their personal accounts.  However none of these cases involve those people who are applying for a job. (It is very hard to fight back against your employer when your not actually their employee.)

Hopefully that will all change. Many states including New Hampshire are trying to pass laws that specifically address the growing concern over social media accounts.

“Rep. Peter Sullivan, D-Manchester, wants to bar employers from requiring an employee – or prospective one – to disclose social media passwords.”

Sullivan stated: “I think it’s better to make a statement at the outset that no, this is not something that’s appropriate.” (3)

The bill’s co-sponsor Katherine Rogers told the NH Union Leader that companies could potentially use Facebook to skirt current laws.

“Many people use sites such as Facebook to update family and friends about personal issues, Rogers noted. The risk is that potential employers could find out information that they are legally barred from asking job applicants about, such as age, race, weight or medical conditions.”

I think this is a fabulous idea. This is a prime example of legislators working to protect the people from potential harm.  Jut think of the pictures, comments, and links you have shared since you joined Facebook?

I look forward to seeing this bill pass through the NH Legislature.

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