Social media is one of the most important tools today. People across the world and from all generations utilize it as part of their daily lives. It’s a source of information, entertainment, and creativity. This also makes social media a vital part of any marketing campaign.
Yet, it’s important to recognize that the social media landscape is varied. Each generation takes a different approach to engagement. Just because your company places ads on a specific platform, this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to jive with your target audience.
As such, let’s take a closer look at how to engage with different generations on social media.
Establishing Your Targets
Before you can effectively engage with different generations on social media, it’s important to have a good understanding of who your audience is. This can help you to narrow down the most effective techniques to utilize. Even if you identify a couple of different generations, you can also recognize which cross-over social media platforms and tools could make an impact. As such, some in-depth social media research is usually your first port of call.
Business analytics is also likely to be among your most important tools for this assessment. After all, data is a key to almost all decision-making in the commercial landscape at the moment. An effective business analytics strategy empowers you to gather and interpret data, then utilize it in practical and impactful ways.
Software platforms in the hands of skilled professionals can assess information from social media platforms alongside your company data. Your company can then perform prescriptive and predictive analytics to make informed forecasts about the most appropriate focus for your marketing efforts.
Understanding the Differences
Technically speaking, there are currently seven different generations living at the moment. However, Generation Alpha (born around the mid-2010s onwards), the Greatest Generation (1901-1927), or the Silent Generation (1928 to 1945) generally aren’t good social media campaign targets. As such, you’re likely to focus on four generations. It’s important to understand the different ways each generation engages with social media so you can utilize the right approaches.
While baby boomers may have initially been slow to take to social media, they now form a significant part of the audience. Indeed, the way they utilize social media has developed over the last few years. Right now, many members of this cohort are open to exploring the potential of TikTok and Instagram, though Facebook is still their most popular platform.
From a marketing perspective, they utilize social media to connect with friends and family or interact with brands they already trust. In many cases, it’s important to treat social media as part of an omnichannel marketing approach, as this generation still favors in-person shopping.
Though they’re not digital natives, Generation X adopted social media right alongside the younger generations. Their enthusiasm for bridging the analog world with new technology continues to inform their approach to these platforms. Indeed, the fact that this is a generation that has always shown enthusiasm for independence and exploration reflects their preferences.
They engage with video platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch which provide them with tutorials. They enjoy educational and informative content forms that they can respond to and build upon.
Millennials were among the first committed adopters of social media platforms. For the most part, they’re using social media to build and maintain communities. It’s also the main way they interact with brands, get news, and obtain lifestyle information. Many are utilizing it as a tool of business, too. This rather varied approach can make them a difficult generation to engage with. Your business needs to research millennial demographics beyond age and look into the specific communities and the platforms they are using.
Many members of Generation Z were entering their teens as social media really started to take hold. As such, they are generally more comfortable and keen on keeping platforms as an intimate part of their lives.
Their usage of social media is heavily focused on personalized experiences. They want to discover new brands, influencers, and ways of utilizing media tools. They’re also among the most willing demographics to make purchases directly as a result of and through social media posts. Therefore, your business can connect to Gen Z through more creative content and invitations to explore.
Utilizing Cross-Generational Platforms
You’ll occasionally find that engaging with generations isn’t as simple as focusing on their favored platforms. After all, trends are likely to change and multiple generations may be especially active on a single platform.
For instance, for some time TikTok was considered to be an app only used for younger generations. Yet at the moment, TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform among all age groups. It’s a platform that empowers all users to both create and engage with content that is representative of their niche interests. Therefore, your campaigns on these cross-generational tools need to be nuanced.
With digital natives more comfortable with making posts, it can be wise to engage through user-generated content. Millennials and Gen Z are particularly prevalent in producing creative media for their own channels and when interacting with brands. This is a method that tends to be effective on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
For generations that utilize a platform largely informationally — like Boomers and Gen X with YouTube — you’ll need to hone in on the individual ways they consume. Utilizing generationally appropriate influencers is a good approach to this. It bolsters trust signals with your brand by piggybacking on the cache of the influencer.
Engaging with different generations on social media can be a difficult process. You need to gain reliable data on who you’re targeting and what they respond to. Consider how each generation incorporates these platforms into their lives and how your campaigns can connect with this accordingly.
Remember that these are often cross-generational tools and your campaigns must reflect the nuanced ways audiences engage. With some focus and strategy, you can ensure your campaigns find the sweet spot at which your messaging, the platforms, and the audience meet in meaningful ways.
Author: Amanda Winstead