Marketing strategies have evolved, most recently to encompass social media. Using older marketing tactics will not allow you to influence different generations, but with ‘generational marketing’ you can target entire families.

The first step is to identify and segment the different generations that compose an average family. These can be broken down as follows:

  • Generationand Silent Generation are those born between 1901 and 1942. They do not make a large portion of actual buyers, so can be left out of your marketing strategy.
  • Baby Boomers, born between 1943 and 1960 are the most important generation for marketers, because half of all consumer expenditure is done by this age group.
  • Generation X consists of the people born between 1961 and 1981.
  • Generation Y or Millennials, are the comparatively younger generation who have started to spend a lot online. They were born between 1982 and 2000.
  • Generation Z or Boomlets are the youngest generations and future buyers, born after 2000.

Once you know the different generations, you need to know how to target them on social media. And in order to do that successfully, you have to know where they spend their time online and what they do. Needless to say, there are some interesting differences between the generations, but also some similarities.

Baby boomers, Gen X and Millennials all prefer Facebook over other social networks. Overall, 43% of the three generations say it’s the one they use the most, with Instagram in second place. However, there is a divide here between the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers versus the Millennials. Approximately 65% of the former ranked Facebook as number 1, while only 33% of the Millennials did. 22% of all Millennials and 25% percent of Generation Z ranked Instagram as their favorite social network. But that didn’t even register for Baby Boomers, who preferred YouTube and Google+ in second and third place. Among younger Millennials, aged 18 to 24, Instagram outranks Facebook as the most popular social network.

What we learn from this is if you own a B2C business, you need to be on Facebook, but not concentrate only on it. Since Millennials take a more diverse approach to social media, suggesting that they are less likely to focus on just one social network, even as they get older.

Gen Xers and Millennials are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to follow business on social media. Where only 24% of Baby Boomers follow brands online, 48% of Gen Xers and Millennials do. Furthermore, the different generations expect different things from the businesses they follow, such as:

  • Wanting a mix of deals/promotions and information – Baby Boomers
  • Wanting contests and also deals/promotions – Generation X
  • Entertainment and information – Millennials

Another aspect to consider is why the different generations unfollow brands on social media.

  • Millennials are most likely to unfollow a business because of a bad experience or because they found a brand’s social marketing to be annoying.
  • Gen Xers are nearly 160% more likely to unfollow a business if it says something that offends them or opposes their personal beliefs.
  • Baby boomers will unfollow brands because they are getting too much spam/too many irrelevant posts.

A woman describing the young

Across the generations, 62% of people are likely or very likely to purchase something from a brand they follow on social media. 71% are more likely to purchase after they’ve had a positive interaction with a brand on social media. The takeaway here is that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to successfully marketing to different generations on social media.

  • Baby Boomers are already retired or reaching the retirement age, but that doesn’t stop them from spending. This is not going to change for at least a decade. Almost 60% of baby boomers are looking to improve their life compared to their working years and they are willing to spend more to live a better life after retirement. They read brief blog posts, mostly use Facebook and will be loyal customers.
  • Generation X are influenced by brands and also remain loyal. They are very active on Facebook and Twitter, but not so much on Instagram and Snapchat. They value honesty and work ethic.
  • Millennials are similarly active on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook ads are a good way to reach them, as are long, in-depth blog posts that help them learn something new. They also prefer reading reviews before making a purchase.

Generational marketing is still an evolving field. It’s also a relatively new marketing technique, and if you are an early adopter, it would give you an edge over your competitors. The better you understand each generation, the better you will become and creating and adapting content that can influence them, and ultimately lead to brand loyalty with your business.

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