Has Grandma recently posted an old photo of you on Facebook? Whether the photo was embarrassing or cute, it’s positively impacting her health, so just let it slide. A new study recently found that the social media platform could be associated with living longer. Shocked? Findings published in Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences found that the health effects of people (Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) active on social media largely mirrors the health benefits of a person’s offline social life.


What did they find? Researchers analyzed mortality data from California voters who either did or did not use Facebook and found users were 12 percent less likely to die within a given year than nonusers. Analyzing a different group of 12 million Facebook users born between 1945 and 1989, they found that people who had larger social circles lived longer than those whose networks were in the lowest 10 percent. In particular, the study found that “people with more friends online are less likely to die than their disconnected counterparts, contradicting assertions that social media has a net-negative impact on health.”

Additionally, the study found that people who posted the most photos, but the least status updates, were 30 percent less likely to die than users with an average level of activity. Being tagged in more photos (yes, even selfies) was also associated with a lower risk of death, because it reflects real-world social activities.

Where do marketers come into play? It’s our job to ensure the content we are creating is engaging for the relevant audiences and also encouraging them to share with their social circles. We need to be aware of our audiences’ online patterns, whether that’s sharing photos of grandkids, posting on a friend’s timeline or engaging in conversations.


Marketers need to understand how these generations are consuming content. Recent reports show that Baby Boomers in particular place importance in accuracy to detail and ease of use; consume printed materials but are also active online; appreciated simplified design; and primarily engage on desktops and tablets versus mobile.

So what type of content do marketers need to be creating for the active older generation?

  • Guides or books that include more detailed text. Keeping in mind that relevant content is key to performing well on social media. Use words and images that your audience will relate to.
  • Testimonials and reviews. Having third-party credibility and proof that others (whom the audience trusts) love the brand, product or service brings it to life. Content needs to resemble human thoughts and actions.
  • Videos that are longer in length and include more detail. Creating videos differentiates content and opens the door for higher engagement. Just make sure all of the content is useful and helps a consumer be more informed.

More than anything else, marketers need to listen to how their audiences are responding to and interacting with content and optimize accordingly.

Studies like this tell us that human connection is more important than ever. Consumers (social media users and non-social media users alike) look to their social communities to confirm or help inform their decisions, whether it’s buying laundry detergent or determining the next President of the United States. Social media matters, and now it’s a matter of designing platforms to not only make people happier, but healthier as well?

Is this older generation a key demographic in your audiences? How much do they engage with your content? Let us know in the comments below!