Using Social Media to Market to the Generations

In social media marketing, knowing your audience is a big deal. You spend hours researching, interpreting the data, and carefully crafting personas — all so you can fine tune your marketing efforts to appeal to the right people. But what do you do when your customers span multiple generations? How do you speak to each unique group of people, without alienating the rest?

Let’s start by looking at how to market to each generation individually.

The Baby Boomers

If you think Boomers aren’t active on social media, you’re wrong. According to research from DMN3, 82.3% of Baby Boomers belong to at least once social networking site — with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest being the most popular.

With Boomers, there are two things you must not do. First, don’t ever call them old. They don’t feel old, and they don’t appreciate being referred to as “senior” or “elderly”. Second, don’t treat them as tech luddites. Boomers are tech-savvy and prolific online shoppers; spurning them will cost you dearly. They’re also not fans of the hard sell, so speak more to how your product will help solve a problem and defer to their expertise.

It’s important to remember that the Baby Boomer generation is very large and diverse. Rather than targeting all Boomers, determine which segment is most likely to purchase your product or service, and market to them.

Generation X

Few marketers focus on the needs of Generation X, and that’s a big mistake. Despite their small numbers, Gen X has the greatest spending power in the U.S. What’s more, the combination of technological savviness and brand loyalty make them a remarkably unique consumer base.

Gen Xers are research heavy when it comes to online shopping. They read reviews, visit opinion sites, and thoroughly research every product before making a purchase. They’re also incredibly skeptical of wild or exaggerated claims. When marketing to Gen X on social media, offer a clear explanation of your product/service and its benefits. Ensure your marketing messages are clear, straightforward, and truthful.

Generation Y (the Millennials)

If you want to market to Millennials, social media is the place to be. In fact, 75% of Millennials have a presence on social media.

Much like their predecessors, Gen Y is skeptical and unlikely to simply accept your message at face value. Instead, they’re more interested in solving real life problems through online research. If you want to get their attention, you’ll have to offer relevant, simple solutions to real world problems. If your advertising efforts are too overt, you’re likely to turn the Millennials off. They prefer organic
and genuine marketing.

Generation Z

Generation Z may not be your current target audience, but they will be. Now is the time to get their attention. Where Millennials are brand focused, Gen Z is product focused. The only way to woo them is to have a superior product. They’re selective with their purchases and conduct extensive research before purchasing.

Generation Z is all about self-reliance and empowerment. If you give them the tools to learn, do, or experience things themselves (such as how-to and educational videos), you’re likely to keep them coming back for more.

All Generations

There are two things that will appeal to all four generations at one. The first is honest, straightforward advertising. Most online shoppers, regardless of their generation, are savvy enough to see through ridiculous claims. They browse reviews, watch YouTube critiques, and consult friends before buying — and fluffy marketing copy will have little to no effect on their decision. The more truthful you are, the more points you’ll win.

Second, engage, engage, engage. When customers reach out to you on social media — whether it be with a praise or a problem — respond. They’re expecting it, and ignoring them can have dire consequences.

While each generation has its differences, at their core, they’re very much the same. Look for those similarities when putting together your marketing plan to avoid estranging any one group. If you’re mindful of both the copy and content you put out, you’re likely to see some real success.