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Social Networking for Grandparents: Interview with President of Grandparents.com

Social Networking for Grandparents: Interview with President of Grandparents.com

  • The millennials are accruing all of the credit in the digital age, but grandparents and the 50+ age bracket are making an impressive effort to embrace new technologies, commune online, and share their stories.

    Grandparents.com — the ultimate resource and premier social website for today’s grandparents — provides for that. Created as a social network by Steve Leber (former manager of the Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, Jackson Five and The Beach Boys) in 2011, Grandparents.com has recently grown to over 600,000 members.

    According to Grandparents.com President, Jeffrey Mahl, the world contains 65 million grandparents; the 50+ demographic controls 75% of world; and it's growing twice the speed of other age demographics. Also, a recent survey by the Kauffman Foundation revealed that Americans aged 55 to 64 start new business ventures at a higher rate than any other age group, including twentysomethings. Should Zuckerberg's successors be looking out?

    In order to learn more, we caught up with Jeffrey Mahl to chat about the idea for the platform and just how active the target demographic is on social media.

    How did the idea germinate for Grandparents.com as a social networking site?
    Grandparents.com was created in 2008 as a content site before I was here. It was about grandparents and grandparenting and the revenue stream was based on advertising. In the media, you need more than one revenue stream in order to be successful. I've been here about two years...and when we decided to be more of a social site, we thought that there were four things that were critical to our success: people could come to the site and learn, they could share content, they could discuss content, and they could learn how to save. We've tried to figure out the most efficient ways to spread that kind of word and that's where we started to expand into social media.

    Why is it important for grandparents to have an online platform for social networking?
    People rely on good content. So, whether it's the Internet, television, or movies, they gravitate towards good content. And you get comfortable with certain websites that provide you with the information that you're looking for. With us, how do we take advantage of the best of social media to accomplish our mission? We've been very active over the last few months with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. And we find that the people that consume our content, which is generally 50+, are very active on those platforms.

    In an age of young, digitally savvy entrepreneurs and startups, are elderly people often overlooked as a demographic for online activity?
    My mother, who's 85, she wants to shoot calls at [her grandchildren] and they may not answer, right? So, she's there on her cell phone, texting. You remember what it was like to text on a cell phone and not a smartphone? Imagine being the one who's 85 now. Most of our audience is in their 50's and early 60's. These are young, vibrant people who are living longer and they want to stay connected. It's the world we live in. Everything's moving so fast, it's this whole thing of time compression. It used to be that you could send somebody an email or a letter and get a response three days later. It doesn't work that way anymore. They don't want to miss it. So what we want to do is become the ultimate resource for grandparents.

    What's next for Grandparents.com?
    We're redesigning our website with a relaunch on September 9. That will also come with a solely mobile site. Right now, looking at our website, 25% of our traffic is coming from mobile devices. I ride the train, and everybody's reading glass. Everybody thinks we live in a world of fragmentation. I'm not sure it's fragmented. I think that people just have different ways of consuming their content. Whether it's on a big screen TV, or your Kindle next to you, or your phone at arm's reach. These are the devices that people are using. We're constantly looking at the many ways to accelerate our social media.

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