Sometimes it’s easy to joke about digital marketing’s perceived generation gap. “You don’t want to use it to promote something like Depends,” we’ll scoff when talking about a digital media platform – whether an SMS poll, RSS update, or email newsletter – used by cutting-edge marketers.

But that attitude ultimately harms us marketers. First, because we’re automatically writing off yet another channel to reach a particular group of consumers. Second, because we’re showing ignorance about said demographic: They’re not just interested in (or even in need of) incontinence products, and they do indeed consume digital media same as everyone else.

I came to this epiphany this week after reports that the 108-year-old Olive Riley – touted as the “World’s Oldest Blogger” – passed away some two weeks after her last post. The Australian lady started sharing her stories more than a year ago, after becoming close friends with a documentarian who, it seems, would type and post Olive’s thoughts for her since she suffered poor eyesight. (While some don’t consider “Ollie” a “real” blogger because of this, I want to say that I know a well-regarded video-blogger who needs other people to film/edit/post the video for her – and she’s considered no less a “vlogger” than others.)

Ollie’s posts rallied folks of all ages, especially the elderly. She became a “hero” to senior citizens “struggling to understand the Internet,” her typist Mike says in this tribute post. The blog became so popular that it sometimes crashed from the weight of hundreds of thousands of readers. In turn, readers often communicated with Ollie via email or comments. While she couldn’t read their words of support, she had a friend read all of them to her every week – and would even sometimes mention a few readers in the next post.

The world’s oldest blogger offered lessons that all marketers should heed. She successfully created a digital community around herself. She engaged loyal readers by listening to and acknowledging their comments/emails. And she proved that yes, there is a way to communicate with elderly consumers via digital means. Thanks to her, increasingly more seniors are going to get into blogging, emailing, and other forms of messaging.

Maybe brands catering to older demographics should reconsider conventional wisdom and start up digital message campaigns, too.

Eydie Cubarrubia, Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me”