Find Out How Baby Boomers, Millennials And Generation X Use Social Media
There are a lot of preconceived perceptions about every generation. Even outright misconceptions. Especially around the issue of social media use.
Millennials, being the youngest of the three generations, are often perceived as the generation that use social media the most. On all platforms, and with the most duration. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Baby Boomers, thought of as the generation least to use social media. Often derisively seen as the least capable of using any electronic platform, wholly technologically illiterate.
However, the results of a survey conducted by BuzzStream and Fractl in 2015, coupled with the results of a much later survey by Nielsen on Global Video-on-Demand published in 2016, a much more complex picture emerged. It upends our misconceptions about how baby boomers, millennials and generation x use social media.
Definition of Terms
Before we start, let me first define who belongs to which generation.
Baby Boomers are those born immediately after the Second World War, from 1946 to 1964. Having been separated by war for most of the previous four or five years, Americans had a surge of births during the years the followed immediately after this conflict. The tail end of that surge ended in the early 1960s. The oldest of this generation will be turning 72 this year, while the youngest would be in their mid 50s.
Generation Xers are those Americans born in mid 1960s into the early 1980s. They are the children of the Baby Boomers, obviously. The term was coined by photographer Robert Capa, describing a photo-essay about young people growing up immediately after the second world war. The “X” stand for “unknown.”
The term was re popularized by Douglas Coupland’s novel “Generation X: Tales of An Accelerated Culture,” which dealt with the lifestyles of young adults in the 1980s. How it became the caption for this generation, I do not know. The oldest members of this generation would be in their early 50s, while the youngest would be in their mid 30s.
Then there are the Millennnials, those born during the mid to late 1980s and into the first years of the 2000s. The used to be known as Generation Y and Z, but were subsequently lumped together into one generation. The oldest of this generation would be in their early 30s today.
As you can see, the tail end of the preceding generation might overlap the front end of the next one. Those in these gray areas might find it difficult to define which generation they belong to. But what’s in a label?
Millennials, being the youngest, are ascribed the best attributes and the best skills with regard to digital technology. We assume they know everything there is to know about these gadgets. But most importantly, that they are, by default of their age, the most prolific users of social media.
As it turns out it’s not that simple.
Target Marketing blogger, author and speaker Jeanette McMurtry defines millennials as a demographic whose trust is difficult to earn. Your actions and your words need to match one another. And yes, as a demographic, they are the largest consumers of mobile content (on smartphones) at 52%. 35% consume online content between 8pm and midnight, while 38% view 5-minute videos. 20% prefer entertainment content such as online games, while another 20% want content with social media engagement.
McMurtry goes on to define Gen Xers as a generation that makes decisions based on experience. Whether a glass is half full or half empty will depend on their experiences. If they’ve had a good experience with a brand, or if their friends, whom they trust, can vouch for a product, then they are most likely to trust that product.
Like Millennials, 35% of Gen Xers also consume online content between 8pm to midnight. But unlike Millennials, this generation prefer blogs to other forms of online content. They also share most images than memes, at 25%. 20% like reading online articles of over 500 words, which is the highest among the three demographics. And their preferred platform for consuming online content are desktops.
I don’t know about that last one, though. I’m a Gen Xer and I’ve long since transitioned to laptops and smartphones, myself. Maybe it’s just me trying to NOT act my age.
The Baby Boomers. By my birth year, an argument can be made that I belong to the tail end of this generation. But, I beg to differ.
McMurtry wrote about this generation, that they prefer a strong, stable brand. They prefer a company that’s been around for decades. They want brands with history behind them. She calls them “true-blue Coke drinkers,” even if during blind taste-tests, they would choose other brands. This is because “Coke has and is part of their life.”
This generation’s survey results are the most surprising of the three. It turns out, Boomers are the highest consumers of Web content of all three demographics! 65% find content using Facebook. the highest of any generation on this social media network. And while we might think they would prefer to read more articles, they come in second to Gen Xers with only 20% of them preferring to read 300-word online articles compared. Another 20% read world news.
And surprise! 10% view content on tablets, which is the highest of any generation on this device.
The fact that this generation, more than the other two, consume more Web content, could be attributed to the fact that they probably have more time on their hands. But this is my own perception, anecdotal, not borne out by any data. My mom is still pretty active for her age, but she spends a lot of time on Facebook, much more than I do.
What Can You Use This Data For?
Targeted marketing. Knowing what consumers do online, how they consume information, what social media network they prefer, and how much time they spend online, all benefit online marketers, allowing them to focus their efforts more efficiently, and at the right demographic.
And how will this benefit you? Well, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re not just a consumer, but that you’re actually an online entrepreneur. You probably already have an online presence, with the goal of earning a profit from the Web. And that’s fine. Information like this can really help you make your online marketing efforts more efficient.
The great thing about our online age is the fact that you don’t need to do this alone, especially if you’re new to online business. There are mentors out there that are credible and proficient, with the right tools to help you navigate the intricacies of online marketing. But you need to be smart, and choose wisely. Not every outfit online delivers on their promises. And if you ask me, I have found (and believe me, I did search the world wide web) the best and the most reliable teacher of online business.
Do you belong to the Baby Boomer, Generation X or a Millennial generation? How do you use social media? Join the conversation in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!