social media senior americansThe 74 plus age demographic is showing the quickest gains in social media consumption. This per Slate’s Suchi Rudra, writing that you are never too old for social media.

Recent research by Pew found that 56 percent of Americans over 65 are online, 43 percent of whom use social networking sites.

The goal of most seniors is in using social media is to keep in touch with family members. Long distance telephone calls on Sunday evenings and sending photo’s to grandma in an envelope marked “fragile – photo’s” are a thing of the post. Facebook, YouTube, and more are part of how seniors now stay engaged.

Social media for seniors is not all family exchanges though. A 70-year-old retired business owner and former librarian in Vermont told Rudra she goes online for three to four hours a day to read the news, and use learning programs, in part through social media.

The message for lawyers and law firms?

The obvious one is that Americans age 65 and older have legal needs. These folks are online for news and information, and are using social media as one source for this info. If you as a lawyer are not active in social and blogging so as to have your insight shared, you’re missing from the equation. People cannot evaluate your capabilities, nor feel a relationship of trust with you.

The more important message for lawyers is that social media is not too hard to learn, it is being used mainstream, and concerns about privacy and the like are not chilling people from using social.

If you need to learn to use something, you take the time to learn it. If you need to take classes to learn social media, like some seniors Rudra talked to, you take classes.

Social media is as serious as a heart attack for lawyers. Understanding how to blog, and use LinkedIn and Twitter is critical for those lawyers looking to retain clients and grow their practice. Learn how to use it online through YouTube and articles, through classes, and if you’re in a larger law firm, bring someone in to teach social.

Many lawyers and law firms are routinely saying their clients don’t use social. That’s bunk. Look at the figures here, even for older Americans. Virtually every person in this country is going to get very comfortable with social. Want proof? Look at cell phone use 15 years ago, or even smart phone use 5 years ago.

It’s demoralizing working with law firms who are stuck working on social media privacy and security issues. Their lawyers aren’t using Twitter, Facebook, or even blogging yet. It’s 2013, what are you waiting for? Establish a policy of empowerment — and move. Privacy, security, and confidentiality can be figured out.

Wake up guys. You’ll soon be learning social from your retiring partners.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Alec Couros.