When you think of the brands that dominate on Facebook, companies like Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and Disney spring to mind. Grandparents.com, not so much.
But according to Track Social, Grandparents.com was actually the 8th most shared brand on Facebook in the last month and a half — beating BMW in the run-up to Christmas and NPR during election season.
"Grandparents kind of love being grandparents, and they want other people to know it," explained SVP and editor-in-chief Ellen Breslau. Which perhaps explains why posts on the company's Facebook page are getting shared an average of 3,432 times a day.
The belief that grandparents and social media are incompatible is a stereotype of the past. My grandma might sometimes call Facebook "FaceSpace," but she's poked me on it more in the last year than everyone else combined.
Furthermore, as more boomers make the shift into grandparenthood, the soon to be 120 million population (in the U.S., says Grandparents.com) is getting a lot younger and more Internet savvy.
"This is the era of Woodstock and rock-and-roll," Breslau said.
It's a younger demographic that isn't being marketed by other outlets, particularly in the social media space.
"There's a lot of competition out there for a lot of different audiences," said Breslau, who came from the highly saturated world of women's magazines. "I think there might be something to this idea that no one else is talking about, or to grandparents."
So they're sharing on Grandparents.com's Facebook page. A lot.
"One of my staff said it's become a time when we don't send cards anymore" Breslau said. "Grandparents always sent Hallmark cards, but maybe [sharing our Facebook posts] is that kind of sentiment."
The most shared posts are usually the 'Quotes of the Day' — which Breslau admits is "kind of sappy, but very sweet." That's followed by comics and cartoons, crafts, photographs, and grandparent news (like impressive grandparents who do gymnastics and other unconventional activities).
While there are no photo contests yet, that sharable content is on the way.
"I don't know if they're on Instagram at the moment," she said.
Grandparents.com started in 2007 as a website offering grandparents activities to do with their grandchildren. It was sold in 2010 and after going public in 2012, transformed into a full service community site with recipe exchanges, lifestyle articles, and money saving tips.
A necessary part of community building on the site, which now serves 700,000 users a month, was building a Facebook presence as well. Although the Grandparents.com Facebook page launched in 2009, it only had about 6,000 fans at the end of April 2011.
Then came targeted Facebook ads to build on to its current 55,000 fanbase, which isn't jaw dropping, but is more engaged than much larger communities.
"The Facebook ads we have running all play on the individual grandparent," social media coordinator LaToya Monah said. "'Are you g-ma or mewaw, grampy or grandpa? Like our page and share your grandparent name!' 'Who's the little rock star in your life? Like our page & share pics of your grandkids.' If you look at our wall you'll see tons of people sharing their grandparent names, silly things their grandkids have said or done, and photographs of their grandkids."
Interestingly, Grandparents.com's actual website doesn't rely on advertisers as its primary revenue stream. "We are starting to sell insurance, house insurance, and other insurance to this audience," Breslau said. "No one is able to monetize advertising on the web."