We seem to be hearing a lot about technology use among seniors and/or social media for the elderly. Of course, this is just one side of the audience spectrum, while the other consists of the young(est) audience. Both segments are potential sources for a demographic market enlargement, as they provide constant technology and social media users, currently embedded in the overall audience.
Targeting these categories separately would surely be a profitable move – but is it also a common sense decision?
Quick case study of the Messenger for kids situation
The Facebook Messenger App for kids is designed for “kids 6-12 to connect with their family and friends, with parental controls to ensure they do so safely. It includes real-time video chat with AR effects for more fun!” – see more details here.
But why the fragmentation? Of course, as a contact management app, we may easily say that the more social media channels, the better. This means that people have an increasingly acute need to centralize various messages incoming on different channels, much to their exasperation. As long as the main channels are integrable at a policy level, as well as at a technical level, their fragmentation provides for the thriving of contact management apps.
However the question remains – why go for fragmentation, as a social media company? The messenger for kids seem to be packing in Snapchat-esque features and a hybrid type of parental control, where Facebook vouches for parental approved content circulating between the kids, yet the parents cannot see the chats. At least that’s what we gathered from a brief browsing of this topic.
The audience would consist of the kids that already use the full Messenger (doubtfully, since going for a lesser, more childish version is frankly a no-no), and the kids that would use the full Messenger, but aren’t allowed to. So it would be parent-approved, Facebook-supervised tool. The dream of every 6-12 child that yearns for digital communications.
How about the elderly?
Imagining a symmetrical move to the other side of the audience spectrum, the elderly should get their own Facebook or Messenger, where they could… I don’t know, exchange nostalgia messages, apply retro filters, play Bingo or have other “specific” activities.
Isn’t it weird how we stand united in separation? Why split the audience (besides dreams of, no, not of sugar plums, but of profit), and this after a century long experience that people do not like to do as they are told?
The elderly do, generally, have more time on their hands, compared to how their schedule looked like one or two decades ago. But they are also re-enjoying life as it is, with fresh air in the morning, with telling stories to their grandsons, with having tea with friends and real-time gossiping. In fact, they are a fickle audience when it comes to social media, because they might just be wiser and more real in their options than the younger adults are.
Welcoming them on social media could mean embedding extra options into the already-existing apps. Or, yet again, it may translate into a lot of fuss, market studies, extra apps or customized apps. Which one do you think it would be the best?
Market enlargement done right
Yes, there are audience segments that could use some extra attention and custom-tailored options.
Yes, by stimulating these people to be more active on social media, the specific market would most likely increase its dynamism and in fact would stand an “enlargement” process.
But adding extra apps in the already crowded digital landscape is counter-intuitive. Competitors have to stand together in the same niche, yet two and more apps from the same brand, due to, well, different targeting, is just too much.
Supplementary fragmentation leads to annoyance and confusion. Friends, business contacts, family and peers would be ultimately spread out among an indefinite number of social media applications, randomly open and shut, each one beaconing their notifications, each one difficult to configure, mute and so on.
Why not put users in control – for real? Allow the existing apps to be refined in a way that would meet specific needs. Kids – load preset configuration number 1! Elderly – load and customize preset configuration number 3!
Wonder if that is actually technically possible – but what isn’t, nowadays?