How Different Generations Use Social Media



How Different Generations Use Social Media

Any marketing expert worth their salt will tell you that the first crucial step in creating an effective marketing strategy would be to know your audience. Indeed, understanding how different generations use social media is integral to get the results that you need. This is because most marketing messages aren’t cross-generational: meaning that one ad may work for say, Millennials, and not for Baby Boomers. Moreover, with more than 80% of every generation using social media daily, there is no reason that your brand should not be advertising over social media.

That’s why us here at Artemeis Media are here to help you out in how to tackle potential social media audiences. In this article, we’ll relay the ins and outs of how each generation uses social media; what encourages them to buy and what marketing ploys they are most likely to respond to.

Generation Z

Generation Z (or Gen Z) refers to the groups of people that are born between 1996 and the late 2010s. Gen Z’ers, for much of their life, have been exposed to unlimited amounts of media and the internet. They are the youngest of our sub-groups and are the most likely of all to be found on social media. In fact, 87% of Gen Z in the past year have spent more time on socials – presumably due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Gen Z’ers usually opt to use video-based and interactive platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. A lot of their consumption circulates around pop culture; viral content or anything that is relatively entertaining or educational.

So, what do Gen Z’ers expect from brands on social media?

Well, a lot of what Gen Z’ers like to see from brands is authenticity and transparency. They seek active brand conversations and expect brands to be receptive to their wants and needs, which ultimately aid them in making informed purchase decisions. They often want to connect beyond the point of sale, engaging, collaborating with the brand and giving them feedback.

Capture Gen Z’ers attention by…

…Investing your time in creating video-based content and challenges fronted by young influencers. Did you know that TikTok is Gen Z’s platform of choice, yet just 32% of businesses use it? Make the most of video-based platforms, and, if you feel a little bit out of touch with the younger ones, it may be worth implementing a social listening tool: a software that monitors and analyses online conversations about your brand, a specific topic, your competitors, or anything else that is relevant.


To be a ‘Millennial’ is to fall within the age bracket of 24-39 (1980s-2000). Millennials are recognised as the first generation of people that grew up in the internet age, and they are generally regarded as hard-working and career orientated. Like Gen Z’ers, they use social media prolifically: for reasons such as staying connected with their friends, watching fun content, and to find the latest and greatest products. As Sprout Social notes, Millennials are generally more receptive to social media marketing than their counterparts, and they don’t mind following brands online. They are also noted as more likely to connect with businesses on Facebook (70%), Instagram (64%) and Twitter (33%).

So, what do Millennials expect from brands on social media?

As the generation known to ‘get things done’ and work efficiently, they expect their social media channels to do just that. They seek easy and intuitive experiences from brands, which as why they cite convenience as the most important and compelling reason for social commerce.

Millennials also tend to be pretty socially informed and politically charged – and they often expect the brands they support to follow suit. For example, 2020 saw many consumers press brands to take a stance and speak on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement. They expect the brands they follow to voice their opinions on their large platforms and appreciate a sense of unification between brand and consumer. They also like to be given the opportunity to engage with brands: whether this be solely by building relationships with them or casting opinions, or perhaps even putting forward some ideas for the brand to look into in the future.

Capture Millennials’ attention by…

…Respecting your audience’s valuable time by making their experience on your socials easy and accessible. It may also help to swell the amount of content that could inform their buying decisions – for example, showcasing a product or service via video or sharing another customer’s reviews on your product or service. Setting up multiple channels would help too, as not every millennial has multiple forms of social media. What is most important though, is that you utilise voice of customer (VoC) data, which provides a detailed understanding of your customer’s requirements. Not only does using this show that you are listening to your customers, but their comments are crucial in understanding what is working for you, and what isn’t.

Generation X

Gen Xers usually are referred to as the group of people that are aged between 40 and 55 years old. Although the vast majority of their lives weren’t spent on social media, Gen Xers are pretty plugged in, with 77.5% of Gen Xers using social media today. Unlike their younger counterparts however, they tend to stick to the same forms of social media – Facebook being their first choice, closely followed by WhatsApp and Instagram.

So, what do Gen Xers expect from brands on social media?

As a group that predominantly uses social media to search company information and influence their buying decisions, as well as connect with family and friends, Gen Xers pay close attention to brands’ customer experiences, and tend to go where they feel appreciated. As Sprout Social notes, more than one third of Gen Xers report feeling connected to a business on social when that business understands them as a consumer. Indeed, almost all Gen Xers (95%) expect a reply to complaints or feedback that they share on social media. What we can also deduce from Gen Xers is that while they don’t mind being marketed to, they can become easily irritated with ads, with 56% of Xers noting that there is too much advertising on the social venues they use.

Capture Gen Xers’ attention by…

…allowing them to make their own decisions for themselves by filling your page with first-hand customer reviews and product information. Provide multiple feedback channels. Emphasising your validity and authority as a company and your reputation is much more likely to hold the attention of your Gen X audience, as it provides them with the crucial reassurance that your products or services will be worthwhile. Gen Xers also tend to be pretty money savvy and business orientated – displaying various enticing and personalised discounts and promotions may help you garner Gen Xer customers, too.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are the oldest of your potential audience, falling within the age brackets of 56 and 74. Baby Boomers, as a group who were well into their adulthood following the growth of the digital age and social media, are the least technologically advanced bunch out of their younger counterparts.

However, this doesn’t go to say that Baby Boomers don’t use social media. Instead, almost two thirds of Baby Boomers have reported an increased usage in their social media accounts this past year.

So, what do Baby Boomers expect from brands on social media?

Baby Boomers’ platform of choice is Facebook, followed by WhatsApp and YouTube. They typically use social media for reasons like finding information, researching brands and keeping up with friends and family. One thing that Baby Boomers tend to like the most about social media is that it gives them the opportunity to communicate with brands – this communication is not as easily obtained through their usual means of traditional marketing, such as TV or radio.

It’s also important to them that they feel heard by these brands – with 53% expecting that businesses inform them when they’ve passed their feedback from social media to the relevant team. Transparency and good customer service are also vital to this age group, with over 64% saying timely customer service would make them choose one business over another.

Capture Baby Boomers’ attention by…

Offer a blend of new school and traditional marketing channels – for example, post Facebook video content and follow up with newspaper campaigns to meet Baby Boomers in the middle.

It also helps to spell out the benefits of shopping with you: offer clear and honest descriptions of what the benefits of your products are, and what they can do for the customer, in order to aid their decision making. Like for Gen Xers, it is also worthwhile to display clear user reviews, and offer promotions – this gives them an incentive to stick around.

Not sure on who your target audience is? Do you know, but aren’t sure where to start? Contact us here at Artemeis Media today!


How Different Generations Use Social Media