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How influencer campaigns can engage the over-50s

Gen Z might be the age group most engaged with social media influencers, but they are certainly not alone. If you look at the top UK influencers, from Joe Wicks at number one to Dr Mike at number 10, it is clear that they appeal to all ages  - after all your health and fitness concerns certainly don’t diminish with age. So if you are aiming to connect with the millions of people over 50 in this country, here are some top tips.

Consider the over 50s for a start!

Monica Feig, EVP, communications at digital agency Clarity: "The approach to influencers is the same for any demographic. Marketers need to understand what type of content really drives interest, what channels matter the most, and who truly is the most influential to them (heavy-hitters, micro-influencers, peers, younger demos, etc). The biggest pitfall is that the over-50 demographic often isn’t even considered when developing an influencer strategy, even though they account for half (53%) of consumer spending overall."

Be authentic and don’t patronise

Sarah Firth, creative director of agency Speed Comms and co-founder of anti-ageism agency Anything But Grey: “You could be forgiven for thinking that influencer marketing to anyone over the age of 50 doesn’t exist - there’s very little said about it and hardly any numbers to back up why it’s worth investing in. But with 4.5 million people over 50 in the UK, this is clearly an audience we should not overlook. In fact, we need to get better at all forms of marketing to this group, including influencer marketing.

“The same rules apply whoever you’re hoping to influence. Create content that is authentic, useful, informative and that is at its most effective when it’s featuring people representative of the audience. And don’t underestimate them, the over-50s’ audience knows what they are looking for, knows how to look for it and most importantly, knows how they like to be communicated to - as individuals with a variety of interests, needs and outlooks.”

It's all about the process

Declan Barry, social media lead at full-service agency Low&Behold: “Process is the biggest difference maker in influencer marketing. From finding and engaging prospects to the execution of creative, you can lose a significant amount of time due to failings in your process.

“When it comes to using influencer marketing for targeting those over-50 this is no different than any other age group.

“Whilst the channels, influencers and tone of voice may change, a solid discovery process will always uncover the influencers that are talking to your target audience regularly.

“Having a correct process also means you're prepared for fast changes, with a clear structure that allows you to adjust the campaign on the fly and keep track of all the crazy twists and turns that come with influencer marketing.”

Be informative

Michael Walbach, managing director of the Killer Group agencies: “Firstly, older individuals tend to prioritise quality over quantity and are more likely to conduct research before buying. They are less impulsive and make informed decisions based on trusted sources, which is why campaigns targeting this demographic require a more informative approach and the use of credible, established influencers who are viewed as trusted authorities in their respective fields.

“Secondly, whilst younger audiences are more likely to engage with influencer content on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, older demographics may prefer Facebook and LinkedIn. Therefore, campaigns must be tailored to the right platform to ensure maximum reach and engagement.

“Lastly, influencers targeting older audiences need to adopt a more relatable and authentic tone to connect with this demographic. They need to focus on demonstrating how products or services can enhance the quality of life.”

Nostalgia sells

Harriet Munson, senior account executive at agency Aduro Communications: “In a world that’s monopolised by social media, it’s a mistake to believe influencer campaigns are solely for younger audiences. Whilst there’s a slight bias to Facebook/Twitter being for older generations and Instagram/TikTok for the young, there is a hefty chunk of each across all platforms. To generalise, we all consume the same media, and we all consume the same content. The real money maker is in your creative and tone of voice, ensuring it resonates with your target.

“When it comes to boomers, nostalgia sells, they are more loyal than the subsequent generation, pioneering our major players, so ensure to partner with influencers they know and love, usually someone that takes them back to their youth.”

Focus on Facebook

Lily Germain, senior campaign executive at agency Bottle PR: “There are over 270,000 Google searches for the term ‘marketing to millennials’, but older generations should not be overlooked. We have clients whose target audiences are over-50 and influencers are always included in our strategy. The main difference from a campaign for a younger audience is where you target over-50s. Facebook is the most popular channel amongst older generations, so influencer campaigns will be far more successful there than they would be on places like TikTok. Think about the goals for using influencers for a campaign aimed at over-50s, and ensure you are using messaging that speaks to an older audience. Marketing to over-50s can be more difficult as they are more likely to be loyal to brands they know/love, so could not be as influenced as younger generations. Using influencers who relate and messaging that makes them feel heard will make them more likely to buy into your brand and once they’re in, they’re more likely to stick around.”

Don’t make assumptions

Alison Metcalfe, head of influencer marketing at PR firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies: “Regardless of who the audience is before developing an influencer strategy, we always start by defining and exploring the objectives, the target audience, and the brand. This provides us with the vital information we need to start building our approach.

“Mapping out the target audience allows us to gain a deeper understanding of who the audience is most influenced by, considering the full spectrum of influencers including journalists, TV personalities, their friends and family, and where they are engaged - mainstream media, specific social platforms, OOH, radio, podcasts, forums or at events.

“Combined with the objectives, brand information as well as wider trends and insights, we can then utilise this information to inform our influencer criteria and ensure we are identifying and selecting creators whose audiences align with the target audience.

“This process removes any assumptions or biases we might have and helps us to avoid any potential pitfalls such as going straight to content created with social media influencers posted to their own channels. It almost always uncovers something unexpected which might inform the direction of our strategy.

“So, in short, the target audience doesn’t change our process, but the tactics and media channels do tend to be different compared with younger age groups.”

Use humour and facts

Paige Hiley, digital and influencer specialist at comms agency Hotwire: “The over-50s are a target demographic that didn’t grow up using social media, so they use it in a different way to Gen Z and Gen X. The main difference with this age group is the need for humour and realism within the content. They don’t want ‘sugar-coated’ messaging. They want straight-to-the-point, gimmick-free, truthful narratives that they can relate to. Until recently, the media has shaped a narrative that often patronises this audience, so it’s important that influencer programmes aimed at the over-50s are shaped by data. What does this age group care about? Who do they engage with? How do they use social media and what is their online brand discovery journey like? It’s also essential that with these programmes you truly listen to the group and do your research to understand them, as the over-50s category is a huge audience meaning one size doesn’t fit all.”

Celebrate age

Jade Margiotta, head of social media at full-service agency for the curious: “I think the principles remain the same, ie, that influencer marketing can be a successful way to reach an often disregarded audience - but the tactics have to be different. For example, marketing to ‘boomers’ would almost always have to mean a focus on Facebook, whereas campaigns for Gen Z would focus placements on TikTok and IG. The content itself would need to be different - as well as recognising that the consideration phase would be longer since that generation typically research for much, much longer.

Dove’s #KeepTheGrey is a brilliant example of a campaign that really cut through to an older audience, celebrating ageing instead of condemning it. I found it a welcome breath of fresh air!”

Anyway, as anyone over 50 will tell you, sitting at your desk for hours is not good for you. So enough writing this, I’m off now to spend time doing yoga with my favourite influencer, the marvellous Adriene Mishler.

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