Don’t be fooled: Social media isn’t just for young people.
People across all age demographics use a variety of social media platforms daily for different reasons. Knowing how to target each one effectively based on their preferences is the key to generational marketing success.
As you might expect, users across different age groups have their own distinct values, expectations, and online behaviours. From Generation Alpha and Gen Z to Millennials and Gen X, and even Baby Boomers—let’s explore the distinct characteristics of each age group, offering valuable insights and practical strategies to help you tailor your online presence, campaigns, and content effectively.
Psychology is the lens through which we can understand consumerism and buyer behaviour. You know, the important stuff.
As it pertains to the different generations, marketers need to understand how they can use psychological and behavioural insights to fine-tune their marketing strategies so they can deliver hyper-targeted content.
Psychographics, such as attitudes, aspirations, and opinions, are highly indicative of buyer behaviour. People buy what they “need,” which is subjective to their age, lifestyle, marital status, socioeconomics, cultural background, and more.
The key is to do market research so you understand who you’re trying to reach with your product. When you do this, you can create social media personas, or models of your target audience, that will help you understand their needs and how to communicate your solutions.
These are the so-called “iPad kids” who were born between 2010 and now, likely ending in 2025 if we keep following the current 15-years-per-generation shtick. This generation is growing up online, perhaps even more so than Gen Z given how the COVID-19 pandemic struck during their developmental years.
The social media persona of a Gen A buyer is complex. While they might not have disposable income yet, they’re highly impressionable and thus, rapidly forming opinions about brands every day as they communicate and play online. If you wait until they have money to build awareness and trust, you’ll be far too late.
Generation Alpha is smart. They’ve become creators already thanks to video games like Roblox and platforms like TikTok. They’re not passive, close-minded children at which you can just waggle a flashy product. Successfully marketing to Generation Alpha means treating them with respect before they have their own credit cards.
As you plan your strategies, consider that Generation Alpha is young and most likely having their tech time monitored by internet-savvy parents. Kids on a screen time limit are not going to waste a second watching content they find boring.
If you really want to engage with Generation Alpha, then you should focus on creating family-centric content their parents will like, too. One example would be to market your brand through educational yet entertaining videos on YouTube Kids, or by making your brand’s TikTok profile fun but parent-approved.
Interestingly as well is how socially-conscious the children of Generation Alpha already are. Despite being young, they are knowledgeable about the environment, sustainability, and social justice. If you can prove to them that these things matter to your brand, you’ll build trust and earn their respect—and later, their money.
This generation encompasses everyone born from 1997 to 2012. They also grew up online, likely chatting with friends on Facebook Messenger or playing video games on their Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
Gen Z is dominating social media and has disposable income to spend. They decide what’s trending, set the current zeitgeist, and have the power to single-handedly make or break your brand. They spend most of their time on social media but are extremely unswayed by the sales tactics that work on their parents.
Oh, and they’re wonderfully stubborn. They like what they like and hate what they don’t. Just as when marketing to Generation Alpha, it’s important to prove to them that your company values align with theirs if you want to connect with them.
Leveraging Gen Z’s immense buying power requires you to connect with them in meaningful ways on the platforms they care about, like TikTok, Twitch, and Snapchat.
Your brand should post like a real person on social media. Be discoverable and an account worth following. When it comes to Gen Z, being authentic is key. Anything that screams “cringe” or “fake” is going to immediately turn them off. Target what they like, avoid what they don’t, and put some genuine thought and effort into your campaigns.
Live streaming is also a great way to prove authenticity. Show them your product or service in real-time rather than through a hyper-commercial video. Even better if you can do this by collaborating with a popular influencer!
This generation covers those born from 1981 to 1996, meaning some of them grew up online while others likely didn’t. What is consistent is that they’re now adults with money of their own as well as defined interests and values.
On Instagram, Millennials gravitate towards visual storytelling. Young Millennials are similar to Gen Z in their love of TikTok and Snapchat for quick, ephemeral communication. Many use X for real-time news updates and discussions, and others may still use Facebook, but it’s largely been phased out.
While they may not all be tapped into social media the same way as younger generations, you can count on Millennials to be online and socially cognizant. On average, their households have $85,000 of disposable income to spend on brands and products they believe in. Conversely, like Gen Z, you can probably count on them to rather stubbornly avoid those they don’t—stay aware!
Marketing to Millennials is about authenticity and aligning values. Admittedly, the values of a 40-year-old and a 28-year-old in 2023 are liable to be very different, so you may be better off segmenting this generation accordingly.
On social media, you should leverage stories or short-form video content such as Instagram Reels, as well as user-generated content (UGC). Stay away from content that feels too branded or overly sales-y when developing your social media marketing strategy. Jump on popular trends that are resonating with them, similarly to marketing to younger generations. Ultimately, no matter what you do, ensure you’re authentic.
Gen X, which encompasses people born from 1965 to 1980, is the generation of people who remember a life before the internet. For some of them, they might remember a whole lot of life without the internet—especially without social media.
This generation still likes Facebook. They’re active on the platform, often using it for a mix of personal and professional connections. You’ll also find them on LinkedIn and X. On the former, they’re networking with like-minded professionals in their industry, and on the latter, contributing to social discussions. They’re definitely online, but TikTok and Snapchat don’t interest them the same way it does younger generations.
Gen X also has money; in some cases, lots of it. While they’re likely parents with children and have plenty of expenses, they’ve also been working longer and have built up trust in certain brands—and distrust in others. They can be tough to reach, but the right strategies can help you market to Gen X successfully.
Relatability and nostalgia are two of your best friends when marketing to Generation X. Many of them look back fondly on their childhoods when everything was “simpler” before the internet. Play into that!
High-quality video content that pokes fun at things from their youth or incorporates the music they loved at the time can work wonders. Silly videos that remind them of the “good old days” can communicate that you, as a brand, understand them. They’re more internally focused than some of the younger generations as consumers.
This generation spans from 1946 to 1964. Despite their age, they’re also incredibly smart, lovable, and, in many cases, powerful buyers.
This generation LOVES Facebook. It’s their social media. Those born closer to 1960 probably have Instagram, but they likely use it to post family pictures instead of browsing memes or Reels. They also love to read the news and will seek it out online.
Don’t sleep on their love of LinkedIn, either. Many Baby Boomers are in the mid-to-late stages of their careers as working professionals. They’re established, and LinkedIn is how they communicate that to the world. It’s also where they can connect with other established professionals in their field.
Marketing to Baby Boomers is tricky. They like content that’s simple, professional, and communicates the value of products and services. They don’t need laughs or trends to sell them on something—just tell them what it is, and why they need it.
When advertising on Facebook, keep in mind things such as font size, visual contrast, and button size. If they’re squinting at your post or struggling to navigate it, then you’ve already lost them as potential customers.
One of the keys when marketing to baby boomers is to not make them feel old. Avoid using slang and provide non-condescending support options. This age group is big spenders, but they certainly won’t spend money on your product or service if they feel disrespected. Can you blame them for that?
While it’s easy to look at the different generations and immediately think that content can only reach one and not the other, there is plenty out there that transcends them all.
The best content can connect with multiple generations.
Savvy marketers harness data analytics and insights to understand the unique preferences, values, and communication styles of these generations. By leveraging a blend of nostalgia, authenticity, and modern trends, they can create campaigns that bridge generational gaps. After all, it’s the message they’re buying.
Time stops for no one. If you continue to create marketing campaigns that are stuck in the past, you risk being unable to reach online users today and tomorrow.
At The Influence Agency, we understand generational marketing and the power of platform-specific personalization. Our strategies leverage demographic data to help brands connect with their target audiences on the platforms that will have the most impact.
Contact us today to get started with a quote!2