Social Networking for the Over-50 Set

It’s only a year old, yet Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor’s Eons.com is quickly proving there’s no age limit on social networking. The social portal’s mantra is “Lovin’ life on the flip side of 50,” and with just under 1 million unique visitors per month clearly there are plenty of consumers who are — and who want to talk about it with like-minded peers.

Eons’ site content is divided into several pillars, including apposite subjects for the well-retired and well-seasoned demographic, such as money and health. An offshoot of the latter is a longevity calculator designed to help users predict their life spans and recommend how they can extend it. There are plenty of other sections devoted to plain old fun. Quizzes and games are complemented, for example, by virtual gifts akin to what users can exchange on Facebook.

From a technical perspective, Eons doesn’t differ much from social networking sites that target the younger generation. Its distinction lies in its audience base. According to Eons, one user calls the site, “MySpace with brains.”

Those brains, coupled with the desirable baby-boomer consumer set, has secured Eons’ place in some powerful political campaigns. Among the 2008 U.S. presidential candidates who have created personal profiles on the site are Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. There’s also a Campaign Central section where users can discuss political issues and voice their intention to vote.

Beyond the political space, Eons is attracting major brands from such sectors as finance, healthcare and beauty, technology, and travel. When the site launched last year, initial advertisers included Fidelity, Liberty Mutual, and Verizon Wireless. The site also partnered with CVS in a unique marketing program, integrating the drug store into the longevity calculator. When users completed the quiz, Eons would generate a customized CVS shopping list based on aspects of their lifestyles that were found to need some attention.

At the hub of Eons’ online marketing program is the Corporate HQ, the site’s moniker for a branded social networking profile. Apart from simply maintaining a presence on the social site, Eons encourages its advertisers to offer widgets and other useful applications. One option is a branded badge users can earn and collect, Boy Scout-style, for entering a contest or completing a marketer’s survey. The site already offers badges tied to any number of situations and activities, including being an active member of Eons for 90 days or more.

Virtual gifts can also be branded, or created as limited-edition offers, so site users can offer a friend a cup of coffee from a favorite coffee chain or a virtual bouquet of flowers from a real-world online retailer.

“What’s most important, and what we’re saying to brands, is that they should try to create conversations and invite the consumer into the discussion,” says Perry Allison, Eons’ VP of sales. Because the site is still relatively small, Eons.com is actively driving internal traffic to brand profiles and applications through house ads, which are also used to promote new site-generated content. “It’s about giving users interesting things to see and do without having to leave Eons,” she says.

While this may sound like it benefits the site far more than its advertisers, it’s just the impetus marketers need to venture beyond social network banner buys and create something customized and relevant. Give this already flourishing site a couple more years to grow its audience base and hone its ad offerings, and its users won’t be the only ones loving the flip side of 50.

Nominate your choice of technologies, companies, and campaigns that made a positive difference in the online marketing industry in the last decade. Nominations end August 3 at 5:00 pm (EDT).

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