Whether you’re trying to reach boomers, Generation X, Millennials, or Generation Z, social marketing by generation is most effective when you keep these tips in mind
Social media is a great platform for marketing to different generations. However, marketers must understand the nuances of generational marketing in the digital space, particularly when it comes to social marketing. Millennials were the earliest adopters of social media since Myspace and Facebook launched when the oldest of them were in college. But baby boomers and Generation X quickly caught up on social media. And Generation Z was practically born Snapchatting.
However, every generation uses social media a bit differently. A Gen Z Snapchat user is interacting differently than her Gen X mom on Instagram or her Boomer grandma on Facebook. Understanding how to speak the social media languages of each generation is imperative for marketers looking to connect via paid social marketing. Here’s what you need to know before you set a strategy for social marketing by generation.
Social marketing by generation is all about picking the right channels
According to Pew, everyone is on social media these days. While boomers are a bit slower to adopt than other audiences, many of them are using various social media platforms. Here’s how social media penetration breaks down for each generation:
- Millennials: 85%
- Generation X: 75%;
- Baby boomers: 57%
Digital marketing to Generation Z via social media is effective, but it’s still a bit too early for predictions as to how many will be on social media as they become teenagers and young adults. It’s safe to say, however, that it’s a pretty big percentage.
Right now, Snapchat is the most important channel for connecting with Generation Z through social marketing. According to Business Insider, Snapchat surpassed Facebook as the most popular social network among US teens in 2016. And that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Snapchat is predicted to continue to add users ages 12 to 17, while Facebook will probably continue to lose teenage audiences. BI predicts that Snapchat will gain 1.2 million new Gen Z users by 2022, while Facebook will lose 2.2 million.
But don’t discount Facebook yet. It’s still the most popular among other age groups. Here are the most effective channels for social media marketing by generation, according to BI:
- Millennials: Roughly 58.5 million millennials used Facebook in 2018, with the figure expected to rise slightly in 2019. Instagram ranked second with 43.3 million millennial users.
- Generation X: They’re the most likely to use Facebook, with 45.1 million users in 2018. Though that number is expected to fall to around 43.8 million by 2022. Instagram is the second most popular platform among this generation, with about 23.5 million Gen X users. Insiders say that number is set to rise in 2019, but will probably never reach the same massive popularity as Facebook.
- Boomers: Baby boomers also love Facebook over other social platforms. In 2018, 31.9 million boomers were on Facebook, a number that has remained fairly steady over the last several years. Unlike younger generations, boomers’ second favorite social media platform was Pinterest, with 12.9 million users in 2018.
Each generation uses social media a little bit differently
Don’t just assume that each generation is getting the same things out of their social media use. For example, according to Forbes, baby boomers spend about an hour and 48 minutes on social media each day, catching up with friends and truly using it for social purposes.
But unlike when marketing to younger audiences, who have been on social media since the early aughts, boomers are much more likely to misunderstand retargeted or branded content, but they do like (and share!) video. Baby boomers are actually 19% more likely to share content on social media than any other demographic. A robust 54% of boomers watch video online, with 43% naming Facebook as their preferred video platform.
Gen Xers, on the other hand, are much more likely to be following brands with an eye on deals and bargains. In fact, 58% of Gen Xers follow brands on social media for deals and promotions.
Younger generations are much more likely to expect social advertising
While boomers may not quite understand social marketing, millennials have grown up having ads on the internet tailored to their specific interests. So much so that traditional advertising actually turns them off. However, if branded social content seems relevant, they’re more likely than older audiences to give it a shot.
A recent study found that 84% of millennials can’t stand traditional advertising, such as TV commercials, radio spots, etc. However, they don’t mind digital advertising as much. Adweek found that 57% would view sponsored content from a brand, such as written feature articles or pre-roll video. The content must, however, feel authentic and be entertaining and useful (and not too long).
If Gen Y is resistant to traditional advertising, Gen Z can barely even grasp what it is. These young social media users, who are most likely watching shows on streaming platforms and on social purely for entertainment, really don’t understand anything resembling the TV spots of old. Instead, user-generated content (UGC) on their favorite social media platforms is the best way to get their attention. According to Forbes:
“There’s a whole new frontier of customers who have grown up in the Amazon era and wouldn’t think of purchasing anything without a plethora of UGC at key conversion points to help them along,” writes Ali Fazal, director of demand generation for Yotpo. “Forget one or two sad reviews from some free plugin. I’m talking hundreds of reviews, user-generated photos and more. This is the new standard—not a ‘nice to have when we get big enough,’ but a must.”
Whether you’re hoping to connect with boomers via video through Facebook or reach millennials on Instagram with a sponsored story, understanding each generation’s preferred social media channel and how they’re using it is crucial for creating content that will help you achieve success with social marketing by generation.
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