No two generations are created equally, so it probably comes as no surprise to learn that each generation uses social media in a unique way. When it comes to baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials, businesses need to know how to reach each generation in a way that resonates with them.
A common misconception about generational social media marketing is that most engaged social media users are millennials, but that’s not entirely true. According to Forbes, roughly 82% of baby boomers have at least one social media account and spend nearly two hours per day on social media. On top of that, 95% of the Gen X population is on Facebook. Yes, millennials are important, but they’re far from being the only active social media generation.
Marketers have been using generational divides as a means of marketing for decades, and it rarely fails them. When businesses understand generational social media use, they’re better able to tailor their campaigns to reach the right people and increase their bottom line. Here are the basics that businesses should know to get started:
Baby boomers are more active on social media than you might think, but businesses need to pay extra close attention to how they’re engaging their boomer customers. As the generation born between 1944-1964, they grew up with mostly face-to-face interactions. Because of this, they tend to expect top-notch customer service when they’re on social media, and they don’t like sifting through content to find what they’re looking for.
A critical fact that all businesses should know about boomers is that they largely prefer Facebook to any other social media site, and they tend not to experiment much with newer sites like Instagram and Snapchat. Although LinkedIn comes in second to this demographic, Facebook is generally the place where boomers are the most receptive to ads.
Lucky for your business, boomers typically don’t mind being advertised to, but under two conditions; the ad must be relevant and straightforward. Teaser titles can be effective for other generations, but according to a report by BlueAdz, this generation wants to know exactly what they’re getting into before they click. Businesses that use blunt and direct language in their ads are largely preferred by boomers, and that transparency is what translates into sales.
Gen X is the generation born between 1965 and 1980, and while they might not be a large generation, they’re most definitely an important one. According to American Express, Gen X has the largest spending power of any generation at 31%. With that much buying power, businesses really can’t afford to ignore them. As boomers begin to retire, Gen X is taking over as the leaders of the workforce, and as the new decision-makers, they’re the generation that businesses need to target when marketing their B2B products. They are also the generation that is truly a crossover — they communicate and translate easily between all generations and are also tech savvy.
Although Gen Xers use other social media sites far more frequently than boomers do, Facebook is still their social media platform of choice with Instagram a close second. Not only is Facebook advertising highly effective for Gen X, but companies that engage this generation can also benefit from higher rates of brand loyalty. Around 40% of this generation has been shown to demonstrate above-average loyalty, making them the most loyal generation in existence. While this generation is often joked about as being “the forgotten generation,” if you please this group, they sure won’t forget you.
However, just because Gen Xers are loyal doesn’t mean you can stop engaging them altogether. This group responds well to discount offers, and even simple “thank you” emails can get your business far with Gen X. This group is also highly receptive to nostalgia from the ’80s and ’90s, so long as it’s relevant to their individual experiences.
While there’s a lot that goes into targeting this generation, one of the fastest ways to get in their good graces is by having plenty of positive online reviews. Gen X is highly likely to research your business and read reviews on multiple sites before engaging, so make sure your online reputation is as pristine as your product selection. Fortunately, there are lots of easy-to-implement strategies and innovative technology solutions to ensure your business is nothing short of five stars. One strategy is to ensure your business leverages surveys — email and/or text — to get feedback and then automatically send happy customers to various online sites to leave a review. Studies show this generation not only wants to see reviews but the frequency and recency of the reviews matter.
Millennials, people born between 1980 and 1995, are no strangers to media attention. From reading articles about millennials that range from the industries they’re killing due to their technology habits or how they text each other from across the room, it’s hard to dispute they are the original social media masters. Because this generation grew up with social media from a young age, they can generally be found liking, following and sharing content on their favorite social media sites. But despite this generation’s inclination toward social media, reaching your ideal millennial customers might take more work than you originally thought.
Unlike boomers and Gen Xers, millennials are active on a wider variety of social media sites. Instagram and Twitter are much more popular among this generation than with the previous generations, meaning your business might need to engage this group on more than just Facebook to see its desired results. Even though 89% of millennials have Facebook accounts, only half of them use the platform regularly. Instagram tends to be the millennial social media site of choice, with 53% using it on a daily basis.
While businesses may need to engage millennials on multiple social media sites, companies that speak directly to them have the upper hand. Digital Air Strike’s Millennials’ Impact on the Market study found that 62% of millennials appreciate direct social media interaction from a brand. Liking, commenting, sharing and responding directly to them online is highly likely to make them become loyal customers of your business. Millennials hold personalized marketing efforts in high regard, so make sure your business is able to relate to them.
With so many tools, tips and tricks to engage leads through social media, leveraging tried-and-true generational marketing strategies can be a great starting point for your business.
Alexi Venneri is co-founder and CEO of Scottsdale-based Digital Air Strike.