Around the Web: How Do Different Generations Engage with Social Media?

By the Editors

On May 12, Entrepreneur published an article by Lizz Kannenberg of Sprout Social, in which she discusses how brands can connect with different demographic age groups online. The key to reaching everyone, she says, is to pay attention to how these generations use the web and social media differently.

She also points out that it’s a mistake to assume social media has reached a plateau: with 2.8 billion worldwide users, social grew 21% in the last year. Smart marketers should remain committed to social media when doing market research and creating content strategies—but would be wise to keep the habits of each generation in mind.

“Over the years, Baby Boomers have often been unfairly, and incorrectly, stereotyped as “technophobes”—afraid and unwilling to adapt to the emerging digital and social information age. On the contrary, this generation is more connected online than ever before. It’s the fastest growing demographic on social media, with an impressive 82.3 percent of the generation active on at least one social network.” — Lizz Kannenberg, Director of Content, Sprout Social

Kannenberg provides quick looks at the three generations with the most purchasing power: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. For each, she provides key statistics about the group’s usage tendencies, their content and channel preferences, and the time of day when they’re most active online.

  • Baby Boomers, surprisingly, comprise the fastest-growing group on social media. They spend over 20 hours per week viewing online content, especially Facebook and informational videos. Boomers don’t love being thought of as old, but they enjoy content that appeals to their stage of life. They appreciate deals and coupons and are most active online between 9 a.m. and noon.
  • Generation X spends more time on social media (7 hours per week) than other generations. They mainly consume blogs, case studies, infographics, e-books, and streaming video. Like Baby Boomers, Gen X uses Facebook more than other platforms. They also enjoy deals, and are the group most likely to follow a brand solely for promotions. Gen X is most active on social media between 8:00 p.m. and midnight.
  • Millennials are digital natives, and therefore harder to impress. They prize authenticity and tend to like (and trust) user-generated content over branded content. More than the other two generations, they consume and share very short content like memes and GIFs, mainly on Facebook and Instagram. Peak usage time for Millennials is from 8:00 p.m. to midnight.

Click here to read the full article, which contains more insights and a link to the source study.