So, because teenagers and people in their early twenties are gullible, they’re easier to sell to. They are really inexperienced and don’t know yet if a product is good. Naturally, a lot of advertisers, agents, managers, directors, companies, etc, will want for younger faces. They think that a younger, more gullible audience will see another young face and think it’s more relatable. Then, they’ll buy whatever product they’re selling. Above 30 or 40 is a more difficult market, in terms of selling both content and products. Compared to 90 per cent of people aged 18-34 using socials, 80 per cent of people from 35 to 49 use social media. Regardless of the drop in usage, there’s a much bigger drop in representation in people over 40 on social medias.
Where are they?
The influencers over forty that I’ve found often pale in comparison in number of followers compared to younger people. A lot of creators on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube over 40 focus on beauty and fashion. Meanwhile, younger influencers focus on a bigger variety of categories. Some of the other older creators are kind of gimmicky, as opposed to personal content. For example, there is a cute old Japanese couple called Bon and Pon who match their clothing. They’re obviously adorable but they’re kind of selling themselves on a one-note anthem as opposed to other, younger influencers that are more fleshed out.
This could just be a platform issue. TikTok’s short videos make for a perfect playground for people who have a short attention span – younger people. The kinds of pictures that do well on Instagram are kind of built for people raised in the later 2000s/2010s. Instagram’s biggest successes are those adept and well versed in internet lingo. Posts from people over 40 often read to me as very posed and… I don’t know how to describe it, but there’s an element of presentation that isn’t as present in younger people. The relationship younger people have with social media is a lot more casual than the relationship many influencers that I’ve seen over 40 have. This might make it so that only people in their age range “get” the content.
YouTube’s platform is much friendlier to older influencers. Still, it seems their viewership is small compared to younger influencers. Still, on YouTube influencers in general have a bigger range of topics they can address. They have longer time periods and can earn more from Google Ads than other platforms.
How Can Forty Plus Advertise Themselves?
I’ve noticed a lot of people over 40 who gain traction on TikTok or Instagram, even if it’s momentary traction, do so by giving advice. Once they take on the role of wise uncle/aunt to those younger, both younger and older viewers seem to like their content more. Because of the total lack of people older than 35 in media outside the role of parent or aunt, maybe younger viewers react most with people over 40 taking on this role.
Facebook’s core demographic is above the age of 30 and its political influence has proven nothing to be laughed at. Influencers above 40 on Facebook could potentially have better earning potential than on other apps. Using Facebook as a launchpad to grow followers could translate to double income from Facebook and alternative apps. There are huge numbers of people over 40 who want to participate on socials but are limited in what they feel they can sell.
I would love to see a lifestyle brand of influencer who is a man who is 50. Obviously, I think it would be a great learning opportunity, but I’d also just love to know what reality is like for people above the age of 40. I think a lot of young people have this notion that once you hit 30 your life is over. But, how can this be true if the average lifespan in America is 80? The remaining 50 years of someone’s life has no excitement or lessons, it’s just 50 years of constant nostalgia? I just have massive doubts that that’s true.
Is There A Market Above Forty?
I think it’s obtuse to say there isn’t. The majority of people in America are above 35. Think of how many views this could translate to. People older than 35 have different spending habits than those below 30, but still spend money. The market has been so focused on people in their early years that there hasn’t been much research or experimentation done in what people over 30 want. Beyond that, creating content by younger people further pushes older people away from the content that they could be watching and enjoying. Also, because people over 40 have their own money, higher paying jobs and priorities in line, it could be argued that they have more expendable income than younger people. They just don’t have places to spend it.
The realm of influencers for people over 40 seems to go to the bounds of beauty and fashion. Men’s channels often give financial advice. With content that’s this limited, of course it’ll seem like there is no market. Analysis into what people above 40 want to see and what they’re most interested in could benefit creators in the same age range. Not all women 40-plus are into make-up and fashion and not all men 40-plus want or need financial advice.
Are You Old?
Once you’re 35, you’re old, says the stereotype spread by media. Social media is thought of as the domain of people younger. But, older people, swayed by the siren call of FaceBook, changed the results of the 2016 election, from a predicted Hilary win to a Trump win. Imagine the results if more content made for them on YouTube or Instagram. FaceBook creators were smart to realize that the above 40 market was massive and could garner massive influence in politics if they wanted to.
This ageist concept isn’t just in the world of social media. In film, female actors often dread turning 40 because they believe they won’t have any more roles left. In fact, when Meryl Streep turned 40 she became anxious that parts would stop coming. Thankfully, that day never came and she’s still readily working into her 70s. Older people have stories, content and money and focusing on younger influencers has only limited the market for companies that want to expand their demographic. The 10 per cent drop in people older who use social media is not enough to discredit the entire demographic and avoid making good content for these people.
Featured image by Ravi Patel for UNSPLASH.COM