Together with Studio Visual Steps, SeniorWeb NL developed six “Specials” to introduce social media. The “Specials” are practical and accessible handbooks and user guides tailored to the older person. Following the methodology known as the Visual Steps Method (or Visual Steps concept), attention is paid to the special needs and requirements of the target group. For example, the Visual Steps publications contain easy to understand, visually oriented, step by step instructions and feature practical, useful information, tips and helpful hints.
Every “Special” focuses on one social medium, i.e. four social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, Hyves and SchoolBANK – and two online communication software applications – Windows Live Messenger and Skype.
Hyves and SchoolBANK are typical Dutch social networking sites: Hyves is a Dutch-language social networking website, named after beehives. Hyves has been online since October 2004 and counts over 11.5 million users (as of January 2012). SchoolBANK is the largest reunion site in the Netherlands and offers the possibility to find old classmates. The website was started in May 2002 and has over 4.7 million registered users (as of January 2012).
UM-MERIT and SeniorWeb are planning to do some follow-up research to these “Specials” in order to measure their impact on the participant’s use of and knowledge about social networking sites.