Millenials Engage, Gen X Buys, Baby Boomers Observe – Why Generational Differences Are Crucial to Social Marketing

Sprout Social Social Index Report

New Data Shows Generational Differences Are Critical to Marketing on Social Media

A study on the differences in generational social media behavior indicates that people from different generations behave differently on social platforms. Social media software company, Sprout Social’s latest Q1 Index Report has uncovered some interesting differences in the way different generations behave on social media. Sprout Social said that while “every generation is now the Facebook generation”, their motivations and intentions to follow brands on social media differ significantly.

Over 60 percent of people follow a brand on social media before they purchase from that brand, making social media a crucial channel for marketers. But varying habits and preferences between generations, highlight the need for marketers to reflect these differences in their social content strategy, publishing patterns and brand messaging.

Findings uncovered by the research show that 30% of Millennials engage with a brand on social at least once a month, while for Baby Boomers the number comes down to 14%.

While Baby boomers are likely to be more interested in getting information, Gen Xers are more likely to be searching for deals and promos, while Millenial users are most likely to engage with a brand on social media.

Sprout Social Social Index Report

Andrew Caravella, VP of Strategy and Brand Engagement at Sprout Social commented, “A brand can’t be everything to all audiences on social—that’s a recipe for a watered-down presence and limited engagement. But understanding your communities, what they’re looking for and the networks they’re using will help you segment your social programs and strategically offer the type of content they want from your brand.”

Millenials and GenXers are twice as likely to follow a brand on social media, but while Millennials follow brands for entertainment value (38%) and information (42%), Gen X is more likely to follow for contests (41%), deals and promotions (58%). Baby Boomers fall somewhere in the middle and are looking for a healthy mix of deals and promotion (60%) and information (53%).

“People have a wide variety of expectations when they follow brands on social. A Gen Xer visiting a brand’s Facebook page may be looking to find out about a weekend sale, while a Millennial visits to tune into a brand’s live video from an exclusive event. Gen Xers are nearly 160 percent more likely to unfollow a brand that says something offensive or in opposition to their personal beliefs.”

Sprout Social Social Index Report

Facebook is easily the most popular social network for Gen X and Baby Boomers, but Millenials use other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat a lot more. “Knowing what not to do and where not to be is equally as important, so while larger brands may have the resources and team to invest in a presence on every network, most brands will benefit from prioritizing a few networks,” said Caravella.

Getting insights from demographic data has become essential to understanding and segmenting social audiences,  and developing content strategies to engage them. Caravella said that “Social Sprout’s findings can serve as a guide for evaluating your core audiences—and determine if your efforts are properly focused. Similarly, a focused investment in the types and styles of content that resonate will boost performance within key demographics.”

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