Your social media content strategy should take into consideration the demographics of your target audience and the various segments within the larger group. More specifically, your social media strategy and content should reflect the generational differences in your audience. Are your products and services tailored specifically to Millennials? Baby Boomers? Does it matter?
The answer to the last question is, yes, it matters. Consumer groups are, in part, products of the world into which they are born and raised. Widespread financial difficulties or large leaps in technology impact each generation in a unique way depending on where they are in their own development. Baby Boomers who grew up changing television channels by hand have different online expectations than Generation Z folks who were practically born with smartphones in their hands.
Each generation has a different level of familiarity with and preference for different social media platforms. Then, within a platform, they have different levels of expectations for how they interact with brands and the types of content they want to see on a regular basis. Let’s take a look at how these generational differences can impact your social media strategy as you strive to engage and convert consumers with a wide range of online habits.
Baby Boomers in the United States make up a population well over 75 million people. If you are not directly promoting your brand to this group of consumers, you are missing out on a solid opportunity to increase your brand recognition and grow your business. “Old” doesn’t mean the same thing it did 50 years ago. Today’s older, not old, generation is tech-savvy, has expendable income, and is worthy of a content marketing strategy all their own. Here are a few things to consider when reaching out to Baby Boomers.
1. Avoid informal presentation of your content. This includes abbreviations and technological terms. If the use of an acronym or pop-culture reference will add value to your content, introduce the group of letters or informal term the first time you use it with a full explanation of what it means. Indicate how you will refer to it further in your content in an almost APA formatting approach. And speaking of formatting, be sure your content is designed to appear as intended regardless of the device being used to view it (device responsive).
2. Craft relevant and concise headlines. Baby boomers are an experienced audience and unlikely to fall for clickbait headlines. Be witty and sophisticated to attract this more worldly and intelligent crowd.
3. Choose social platforms wisely. Statista found that 72% of Baby Boomers are using Facebook compared to 28% who stated they use Pinterest and only 18% who are active on Instagram. Remember to also keep your social content well formatted and leave the abbreviations and hashtag overload for a different crowd.
4. Baby Boomers, as a whole, are sensitive to condescending marketing that either assumes they are ignorant on a topic or that oversimplifies the content. Be informative but don’t over explain.
5. Text-heavy is okay with this group. Baby Boomers are more likely than younger generations to enjoy written content like blog posts and ebooks. They are also more patient with video content and will take the time to watch product promotions, how to videos and the like.
Remember that baby boomers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are grandparents, some are single, some are still in the workforce, others retired, and some are entrepreneurs themselves. To create more personalized content for this target audience, get a better understanding of the segments you are hoping to capture and develop your messaging in a way that respects their experience while providing the information they need.
Gen X has sometimes been eclipsed by the race to capture business from the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations. Controlling more spending power than any other generation, American Express found that Gen X has 29% of net worth dollars and 31% of total income dollars. If your content marketing strategy has overlooked this middle child of generations, it’s time to focus in on this influential group.
1. A positive social impact is a must. Gen X is a socially conscious generation and they will pay more attention to brands that are focused on environmentally safe and socially responsible practices and products.
2. Acknowledge the skeptical nature of this population. Gen X was deeply impacted by the existing economic turmoil as they joined the workforce. They have heavy expectations of honesty and transparency and will walk away from overpriced brands that offer no value proposition via their products or services. Authenticity is key to connecting with Gen X and will be repaid in customer loyalty.
3. While Gen Xers tend to be higher earners, many also have more debt than their parents’ generation due to the financial turbulence caused by the Great Recession. These cautious spends want security in all aspects of their lives and look for long term value. Brands with products or services that can emphasize their ability to help protect the families and finances of Gen Xers will find success marketing to this generation.
4. Marketing via traditional online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter works well with Generation X. While they may not clip paper coupons, they will spend time searching for online coupon codes and other deals. Email is still the primary means of messaging with this group but keep the copy in your email marketing campaigns concise and the messages unambiguous. Direct mail is also still effective with Generation X so long as it comes in the form of an environmentally conscious postcard and not a 50-page catalog.
Offer as much information in as few words as possible for this research prone generation. Transparency, sincerity, and authenticity will help build relationships and create loyal customers out of this well-educated and tech-savvy group. Just be sure you don’t overlook the influence potential of Gen Xers.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are truly the digital generation and their wants and needs are unique. They wholeheartedly embrace social media platforms and stay on top of the new trends and upgrades that come along. Using social platforms is definitely key to reaching millennials and integrating video content only increases your ability to engage Gen Y viewers as you compete to grab the attention of this entertainment seeking group.
1. Establish a brand culture and community and invite people to join you. Millennials are constantly seeking things to be a part of or contribute to. You’ll increase engagement levels with this group when they feel they are part of “we” instead of on the outside of your brand looking in. You can do something as simple as encouraging the use of a community hashtag or as involved as hosting an online forum where participants get to preview new products before the general public does.
2. Craft high-quality content and purposefully distribute it to targeted segments of your audience. Provide information that contributes to their purchasing decisions. Content that is relevant to their interests and that brings value to the table will perform best with Millennials. And remember that this group is not shy about expressing their displeasure with things so respond in earnest to the feedback you receive.
3. Influencers have more power over Millennials than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers – it is this generation’s version of word-of-mouth. Social influencers can help your brand build relationships and increase engagement levels. They provide an authentic look into the use of your services or products and their support of your brand will drive traffic to your website and, ultimately, convert leads.
4. Do not use hard sales and do be genuine. Most Millennials don’t remember the “before” when advertisements weren’t forced into our social feeds and plastered all over websites. If your advertising is blatant advertising, it will be ignored by this group of young adults who are well versed in tuning out irrelevant digital noise. Subtle marketing that focuses on the value proposition and how it will help whatever the challenge or problem is will work best with this finicky generation. (Thus, the influence of influencers…)
5. The timing of your marketing messaging is key to appealing to Millennial consumers. Understand the most effective times to post on different platforms to best capture the market and engage your audience. Provide timely and relevant information precisely when they need it.
Reliable, straight-forward content with multiple viewpoints from influencers and other peers will earn the attention of the Millennial generation. Provide them an online community of which they can be a part and you’ll build loyal customers for life.
Generation Z never knew a world without smartphones or social media. As they begin entering the workforce, their buying power will only continue to grow. More comfortable with technology than with people, Gen Z presents yet another entity to be considered when crafting marketing strategies.
1. Personalization that doesn’t come across as creepy is essential to engage with Gen Z. They want to see content and advertising relevant to their interests but, unlike older, less savvy Internet users, Gen Z are fully aware of why that one particular ad seems to follow them around wherever they go. Create multiple versions of ads so you can tweak the copy or images to not only reflect your target audience but also to offer slightly different information with each additional appearance of your brand on their screen.
2. Ephemeral content, or short bits of content that are only available for a limited amount of time, is the norm for Generation Z. This type of content encourages consistent social engagement either through live viewing and interaction or via regular checking into a profile. Gen Z isn’t interested in compiling a keepsake record of their lives (like on Facebook). They want to share and watch engaging content like videos and quick clips with anecdotal text overlay. Brands that are effectively utilizing ephemeral content aren’t going for a hard sell but rather promoting their brands in a roundabout way that is entertaining, engaging, and relevant to the lives of Gen Z consumers.
3. Social media video continues to grow in popularity both for viewers and creators of content. Video that entertains or inspires performs best. Use content that can create a laugh, tug at a heartstring, or inspire the next generation of something or other. Know that many people view videos on social media platforms without sound so subtitles are always a good idea.
4. While many are bemoaning the continuously dwindling attention span of our youth (down to 8 seconds for Gen Z), we have to consider what has caused this change. These digital youth were born into a noisy digital world surrounded by a torrent of never-ending information. Perhaps their decreased attention spans are actually the result of higher quality filters of the deluge of content they are exposed to. Thus, it is even more necessary to offer content that immediately grabs the viewer’s attention. Put all of the excitement and information up front. Don’t save anything for the end because they just might not get there.
5. Passive advertising is not an option with Gen Z. They require a more assertive approach. Interactive content challenges the viewer to join in an ad instead of ignoring or skipping it. Ask viewers to choose between choice A and B, pose a trivia question, request input of content topics. User-generated content (use of a branded hashtag, video of “how I use this product”, and so on) is a powerful type of interactive content. It asks followers to submit photos, videos, artwork, etc. and encourages sharing and building of the online community. To best capitalize on this strategy, post content that almost requires the reader to click, type, or respond in some other way and engage with your brand.
If you haven’t yet honed your marketing strategy for Gen Z, now is the time to do it. They are projected to account for 40% of all consumers by 2020. This socially active group is different, but not as much as some think. Each generation simply challenges us to find new ways to connect, build relationships and community, and offer our products and services in relevant and exciting ways that fit into the ever-changing world around us.
Setting up a profile for your brand on a variety of social media platforms and periodically pushing out posts won’t be enough. You need to not only establish an online brand identity, but you also need to maintain an online presence in a way that provides value-added content and creates a sense of community. Regardless of age group, engagement and interaction are key.
The team at Strategy Driven Marketing understands the importance of meeting segments of your target audience on the platforms they love, speaking directly to them, and helping them understand how your products or services will meet their challenges and fulfill their needs. Whether you want to talk social media marketing strategy, need assistance with content creation, social analytics, or whatever your needs may be, SDM can help. Contact us today to get started!