Generational Marketing and How to Apply It on Social Media

Much like there are different approaches to marketing to different demographics, marketing to different generations entails a specific method and understanding that caters to their respective characteristics.

While generations are generally categorized by people’s belief systems, which influence the way they act and speak, there are four popular aged-based generational categories considered by marketers. And while specific age brackets may differ slightly, they are usually classified as:

The generations

Baby Boomers— Born between 1946 and 1964

Generation X— Born between 1965 and 1980

Millennials— Born 1980 to 1995

Gen Z— Born 1996 to 2010

When it comes to marketing to different generations, almost more important than the language used to communicate a specific message is understanding how to grab their attention. As well, it is also important to note that generational lifestyles and social values often carry more influence on buying decisions than more traditional demographic factors like income, education, and gender.

As pointed out by The Balance, success in generation marketing lies greatly in understanding what motivates each generation — which are drawn from their respective values.

But while generation marketing requires understanding different motivations, values and desires, ultimately, each generation will go through the same life stages. Younger generations will eventually take their place as consumers, employees and parents — as such, marketing to them should be seen as more of an investment — one that should bear fruit when they eventually become the decision makers.

Yes, there are different ways to approach marketing to different generations, but for the most part, they all have one thing in common — most of them use social media. As such, it is important to understand the varying ways to market to them on this omnipresent medium.

Here are some tips on how to market to different generations on social media:

Baby Boomers

Traits

As noted by The Houston Chronicle, Baby Boomers tend to separate into the hippies of the 60s to 70s era, and the yuppies of 1970 to 1980. This generation is generally marked by their strong sense of individuality — an independent attitude that birthed a DIY marketplace. As such, it is advised to provide them with options and ways to customize when marketing to them.

Emotional appeals and hints of nostalgia likewise tend to resonate with Baby Boomers. As pointed out by The Houston Chronicle, there are natural inclinations towards health and wellness (vitamin supplements, hair coloring products, etc.) that coexist with aversion to idle retirement, and being considered old.

Key figures

While the natural tendency may be to avoid this generation when it comes to digital marketing, a study by Citipost Mail, found that 91 percent of Baby Boomers say they have at least one social media account.

Of those on social media, 84 percent are on Facebook, with 16 percent spending 11 hours or more on the social network each week.

Also important to note is that 58 percent of Baby Boomers are more likely to visit a company’s website after encountering them on social media, while 95 percent of them will always choose communicating via email over live chat.

Tips

As noted by the study, because Baby Boomers favor the content-based platform that is Facebook, they respond well to being encouraged to share their views and opinions. This explains why they are 38 percent more likely to interact with content like questionnaires and polls — which they see as an affirmation that their voice matters.

Because they also tend to want to be fully informed about a subject, when it comes to video content, thoughtful execution, slower pace, and info-heavy content increases the chances of interaction.

This generation also expects top notch customer service, so responding to their comments and messages promptly or investing in messenger bots or conversational commerce will be much help especially when marketing to this generation, as its ability to respond immediately will go a long way towards building customer trust.

And as an additional tip, NEVER call them ‘baby boomers’ in your marketing campaigns.

Generation X

Traits

Because it was how they grew up, this generation spends a lot more time watching TV and listening to radio than younger generations. This means that they are used to being exposed to more traditional advertising, and as such, would likely respond better if that same feel and look were reflected on social media. As noted by digital agency Beeby Clark+Meyler, if you want to sell them a chicken sandwich, show them a chicken sandwich. They lean more towards facts, so truthful, direct copies are advised.

Because of their age, Gen X’ers have also displayed a renewed sense of mortality — explaining their inclination towards health and wellness. This means that highlighting a product’s healthy, organic ingredients will resonate well with them.

Key figures

This may sound counterintuitive, but Gen X’ers spend more time on social media than Millennials — averaging 6 hours and 58 minutes a week on Facebook, while also accounting for 36 percent of pinners on Pinterest; although strangely enough, only 8 percent actively use Instagram.

79 percent of them will download/stream video, with 58 percent using YouTube.

Among all the generations, Gen X’ers have the highest rate of brand loyalty, according to Citipost Mail, at 84 percent.

Tips

Because Gen X’ers are generally active information seekers that like everything to be on demand, posting content often and consistently are advised for this generation, particularly when it includes information and resources that they can incorporate in their busy lives.

This is one of the reasons why Pinterest pins with fun life hacks are popular with the Gen X’ers, as not only do they find entertainment value in them, it also helps them cross stuff out from their to-do lists.

Posts with comprehensive product benefits and features also resonate with this generation. Make sure your messaging is concise and direct to the point.

Millennials

Traits

Millennials are characterized by their idealism and their being vocal (and visual) about issues and subjects that matter to them. This is why, as noted by smart mail management company Citipost Mail, connecting with influencers in real time about those subjects they care about work well towards building trust and loyalty.

And this is a key prevalent marketing concept with this generation — influencers — as they have the ability to touch on the basic marketing points — creating awareness, rousing interest, and developing relationships with this massive market segment.

Key figures

According to the Harvard Business Review, Millennials comprise roughly 25 percent of the total US population, contributing to around $600 billion in annual spending.

Millennials spend over 2 hours a day on social media platforms (according to a study cited by Marketing Land).

41 percent use Snapchat.

Interestingly, a recent Think with Google study suggested that 40 percent of Millennials connect more with YouTubers than with friends — again proving the value the generation places on social media influencers.

34 percent of Millennials turn to social media when making purchasing decisions, relying heavily on ratings and reviews to craft their impressions about a brand or company.

Tips

MediaKix, an influencer marketing agency, notes Millennial engagement is increased by content or contests that offer value in the form of information, entertainment, prizes or promotions.

This cannot be stated enough with this segment, but focus on building influencers’ networks is key for social media marketing success when it comes to this generation. Identifying who your Millennial market looks up to is almost more important than any campaign you can concoct.

Much like influencers, millenials generally put more trust to brands people say good things to. Luckily enough, if you don’t know where to start with this kind of marketing, there are agencies like Omnistar Tell who can help you find, coordinate with, and manage advocates through their referral marketing program.

Gen Z

Traits

Most of the members of this generation grew up with screens in front of their faces, and as such are the most tech and social media savvy of the bunch.

As noted by Business.com, an important note to their online behavior is that they have a strong inclination towards content and media served in bite-sized chunks, and have taken the reigns of the selfie from the Millennials with ease.

Key figures

Before its demise, 54 percent of Gen Z’ers recommended Vine as their preferred social media platform. They have since then moved to Snapchat.

There are 50 million active users of Musical.ly.

79 percent say they would be interested in using VR as part of social media.

Very much in tune with global issues, 80 percent will likely purchase a product/service if it positions itself as having a social or environmental impact, according to Citipost Mail.

Tips

To make the Gen Z resonate with your brand, post behind-the-scenes photos and other candid images from your company. As pointed out by Business.com, real pictures of real people doing real work resonate with this bunch. Authenticity is valued greatly by this generation.

With the collective average attention span plummeting to just eight seconds, it is imperative that you get your message across in as little time as possible. This means that to Gen Z, a meme, or at times, even an emoji, makes much more sense than a thoughtfully crafted article.

In contrast with Millennials, big named influencers aren’t as effective with Gen Z, with the demographic preferring promotions that involve real people.

It is also important to note that Gen Z are most likely to be on social media when they wake up, and when they’re done with school — so make sure that social media marketing activities are aligned with their schedule.

Takeaway

As each day passes, traditional media is increasingly taking a backseat to social media. And because not all generations react the same way to social media campaigns, and often, are not even on the same social network, understanding generational marketing is crucial to any social media marketing effort.

In ancient times, it was almost enough to know who your target was. In this day and age, you need to know who they, which social media they’re in, and what type of content they’re most likely to interact with. Times are changing— and so should your marketing perspective.


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