The response we’ve received to our campaign to get senior loved ones participating in social media is gratifying to us at Senior Care Corner. So many have told us it is making a difference in the lives of parents and grandparents. Yes, there is still a long way to go, especially with the most elderly age groups, but progress is being made.
Questions Senior Care Corner gets in response to the campaign include “which social network is best for seniors” and “can you recommend a social media site for my grandmother.” If only there were an easy answer.
Choosing the right social media site – or sites – for a senior loved one is not terribly unlike selecting the best social network(s) for a small business, a question we also often hear. If you ask what’s right for your small business, you might hear that the considerations include your objectives with social media and the sites frequently visited by your customers and potential customers. Other than context, the questions aren’t much different when helping your senior father or elderly grandmother choose.
Seniors’ Primary Social Media Considerations
- What objectives does you senior loved one have for social media?
- Staying connected to the family?
- Keeping up with what’s happening in the community?
- Finding discounts and other deals from local or national businesses?
- Learning more about healthcare questions?
- Other interests?
- Which social networks are used by family members and friends?
- How much time to they want to spend on social media?
- A lot of time each day?
- Just check in from time to time?
For the most part it really is not a difficult decision. Does the device or type of internet connection available to your senior loved one make a difference? Not to the choice of network, really, but the type of device may impact how they use it. If reading posts and other information are the primary drivers, then it doesn’t matter if they are using a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or even a smartphone as long as the screen is readable by your loved one. If posting on the network is to be done, and we hope it is because communication should be two-way, a device your loved one can readily use for typing is essential.
Answer is Probably Facebook – at Least Right Now
Surprise, surprise! Yes, Facebook may just be the best answer for most seniors right now — as it is for other age groups. It is overwhelmingly the most popular social network from a participation standpoint and is still growing. While popularity in and of itself may not be the key criterion for you, it is Facebook’s popularity that makes it the number one network when going through most peoples’ consideration lists. Look who’s on Facebook regularly.
- People young and old, which means there is a good probability your senior loved one’s family members (siblings down to grandchildren or even great grandchildren) are there.
- Growing numbers of governmental entities and community groups have Facebook pages.
- Businesses large and small, global and local, have found Facebook to be great way to reach current and potential customers.
- Companies and organizations in healthcare are there, reaching patients, families, physicians and other audiences.
Will Facebook Always Be the Right Social Network?
Facebook was only founded eight years ago and took some time to become the most popular social media site. It’s certainly hard to say how long it will be most popular or even how long it will be around. Even if it stays most popular it may not stay the best solution for everyone’s needs, however. We expect to see a growth in networks designed around specific interests, such as healthcare and community issues. Senior Care Corner will continue to follow what is happening in social media and keep you informed so that you can advise and assist your senior and elderly loved ones in deciding what’s best for them.
Key is to Get Started — the Right Way
As with many decisions, it is easy to over-analyze the selection of a social media site to get your senior loved one started. It is better to pick one that looks to be a good fit and just get started, but it IS important to take time to be sure that start is done correctly. What is correct? We covered key points in an earlier post, Social Media Rules for Senior Loved Ones, but the biggest concerns are privacy and security.
When setting up a social media account, be sure to walk through the privacy settings and considerations with your senior loved one. Everyone should understand how they are sharing the information they post or even include in their profiles — and with whom. More and more people are using information they encounter on social networks in ways, both legitimate and criminal, that can bring harm to seniors or their loved ones. In a world where an innocently posted picture could cost a loved one a promotion or even job and clicking on a maliciously posted picture can trigger a virus that exposes personal data to criminals, social media users of all ages should understand the risks and proceed with caution.
Wishing you happy and safe social networking!