Like other media, social media’s appeal is stratified by age groups. Millennials are more prone to engage with brands while Baby Boomers look for deals. Millennials dominate on Instagram and Snapchat, while Gen Xers and Boomers flock to Facebook.
These and other differences are significant for social media marketing strategies. They point to where to direct and how to shape marketing content.
Sprout Social’s Q1 2017 report on “the social generation” includes observations such as:
- Seven in 10 Gen Xers will likely purchase something from a brand they follow on social media;
- 30 percent of Millennials engage with a brand on social media at least once a month; and
- 60 percent of Baby Boomers search social media for promotions.
One of the most basic, but useful Sprout Social findings is that Facebook remains the big elephant in the social media space. It is the social media preference for 65 percent of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers and 35 percent of Millennials. But Millennials spread around their attention. More than 20 percent prefer Instagram, a slightly smaller percentage prefer Snapchat and about 15 percent prefer YouTube.
Generation Xers are the largest age cohort using Pinterest and Baby Boomers top all users on Google+. Next to Facebook, the social media platform will the most cross-generational appeal is YouTube.
The key takeaway is that social media marketing content must be tailored to age group demographics and platform characteristics.
The Sprout Social report also offers clues for social media strategy. Seeking followers and engaging them works best with Millennials and Gen Xers, but not much with Boomers. When Boomers do follow a brand, they are more likely to observe, not engage until they spot a special deal.
Each generation has a slightly different impulse to unfollow a brand. Gen Xers are much more likely to unfollow a brand that says something offensive or in opposition to their personal beliefs. Millennials unfollow because of a bad experience or annoying social marketing. Baby Boomers opt out because of what they view as spam.
Stakes are high for social customer care. Positive interactions with a brand promote higher sales – about 14 percent higher across all age groups. As you might expect, the group with the most upside following a positive social interaction are Millennials.
Perceptions of the social competency of different business sectors varies by age groups. Gen Xers view media and entertainment as the best at social customer care. Boomers give the nod to retailers. Millennials are mostly focused on data showing only one in 10 social media messages to brands ever get a response.