A social networking website to rival Facebook has launched but it has one marked difference –it is aimed at the over 50s.
Sagazone, created by Saga, the financial services company for the mature consumer is aimed squarely at their target customer – the silver surfer. So far, Sagazone has attracted 13,000 users since it launched in February.
Much like Facebook, Bibo and MySpace, users can attend online parties, swap recipes or gardening tips, or chat with like-minded people about other topics of interest. The site also serves to help those who may be housebound or live alone feel as though they are in contact with the outside world.
The site has tapped into the growing interest in the internet for so-called silver surfers after it was reported that almost a third of all time spent online is by the over-50s. Recent research by Ofcom which found that mature people spend increasing amounts of time online with 16 percent of over-65s regularly claiming to use the internet. Now, rather than being a demographic to be avoided, the ‘grey pound’ is being hailed as a lucrative one.
Rupert Miles, Chief Executive of Saga Publishing, the branch of the company responsible for the website, explains: "It has really taken off, especially for people who are unable to get out of the house or have mobility issues. Now there are people who log on to a forum just to say good night and good morning to each other. They go online to tell their new friends what the weather is like where they are or how they are feeling."
According to the hundreds of messages posted on the forums, many users are also members of Facebook but feel squeezed out by the ‘text-speak’ and gimmicks which detract from meeting people and discussing topics of interest.
The content is regulated by Saga however; there are no limits on the topics of conversation. Chief Executive of the Saga Group, Andrew Goodsell adds: "The internet is a place where the over-50s are thriving. Saga Zone is a place where they can mingle and chat about issues important to them."
The most popular topics of discussion on the site are reactions to the daily news, petitions to the Government about disability benefits, chat about the best holiday destinations and calls for short stories and poems to be submitted by users.
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