George Takei has a message to herald: Older people know how to use digital media. To get the point across, the actor—best known for his Star Trek work in the late 1960s before becoming a social media standout—jumped on the opportunity to have his own tech-focused Web series with AARP called Takei's Take.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to shatter some stereotypes, as you know the common popularly held stereotype is that my generation is made up of Luddites," he told Adweek. "It's not true at all. Many of us are very active with technology."
During its first season, Takei explored Google Glass, dating apps like Tinder and gaming. Its success garnered a Webby Peoples' Choice Award in the technology category for the show, and Takei's Take was reupped for a second run yesterday.
While Takei is beloved among millennials due to his Facebook and Twitter savviness, the nonprofit surprisingly claims that 70 percent of the show's audience is between the ages of 45 and 64. Tammy Gordon, AARP's vp of social media, TV and radio, said she attributes that stat to the changing definition of the "older generation," considering the fact that the first Generation Xers will turn 50 next year.
"That's a whole different demographic," Gordon explained. "That's a whole different zeitgeist. That's a whole different [kind of] music and entertainment."
Gen Xers and Baby Boomers Act Alike Online
Part of AARP's recent focus has been on learning how to appeal to the newcomers, explained Mark Bradbury, senior director of insights and integrated marketing at AARP. But, his nonprofit has discovered that it didn't have to tailor content much for Gen Xers because their digital behaviors are similar to Boomers. Bradbury and his team have found that the average reader spends 19 minutes on its site—no matter if the viewer was 45 or 60 years old.
Over the last five years, the AARP's site—which the org claims is the No. 1 destination for the 50-plus crowd—has gone from two million unique visitors monthly to seven million. Sixteen percent of AARP's website traffic is mobile, up from 6 percent the year before.
Takei pointed out that people are living longer and retiring older. And the AARP is seeing folks stay online longer—past the age of 75, which was the stopping point until recent years. As families move globally, Boomers are learning to use social media and other online tools to keep in touch, the celeb added. And, as people lose spouses or get divorced, they are looking at digital ways to re-enter the dating game.
"If I should be back in the dating game, I know there are lot of specific apps for Trekkies who want to meet Trekkies. There are gay and lesbian apps. There are a whole vast variety of dating apps that are fine-tuned to any potential interest so you can find a mate," Takei explained, adding that he is happy with his husband and has no plans to utilize those options.
Takei said that you don't have to always give your grandmother a call—she may appreciate a Skype session or an email just as much.
"We are like [the millennial] generation," he said. "There are many [millennials] that are not up to date. I know a few."