Lets Get Social

Let’s Get Social: How To Engage With Different Generations

By Klaudia Tirico, Features Editor

With sometimes wildly different preferences among members of the three “older” generations — Gen X, Baby Boomers and Millennials — and the numerous social media channels consumers can choose from, it’s difficult for brands to keep up with where and how to deliver their message so that it reaches the right audience via the right channel.

In assessing a number of recent research reports around the topic of generational preferences in social media content and channels, I found some interesting information. Here, I break down each generation to spotlight what type of content they want to see on the social channel of their choice, with some key takeaways.


Born between early-to-mid 1940s and 1960.

Social media channel of choice: Facebook

While Baby Boomers may not be engaging as much with brands on social media compared with younger consumers, Sprout Social research revealed that they are watching, albeit silently. The research also showed that Boomers have a heavy Facebook presence, with 65% naming it their preferred platform.

“[Baby Boomers] mostly seek out deals and promotions from brands,” said Andrew Caravella, VP of Strategy and Brand Engagement at Sprout Social. “Making sure you’re giving them what they like to see on the channel they’re often on is a safe bet.”

But this does not mean that Baby Boomers won’t engage on social media at all. “Baby Boomers engage less than Gen Xers and significantly less than Millennials, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their following or participation is worth less than other groups,” said Caravella. “With the right kind of content, they will engage at high levels. The connection just needs to be extremely relevant. Though only 14% of the generation interacts with brands on a monthly basis, we see that brands’ social presences affect the buying decisions of 51% of Baby Boomers.”


Born between 1961 and 1980.

Social media channel of choice: Facebook

According to the Sprout Social research, Gen Xers are more purchase-motivated on social. Nearly seven out of 10 Gen Xers will likely purchase something from a brand they follow. Their top picks for content include deals and promotions (58%) and contests (41%).

“In this instance, your content should be catered toward easy purchasing and creating loyalty,” said Caravella. “Since [Gen Xers] are also twice as likely as other generations to unfollow a brand who offends them, err on the side of caution when you’re curating content and conversations — especially in our current political climate.

Other key findings about Baby Boomers and Gen X:

  • 79% want brands to respond to questions on social media;
  • 53% think GIFs are cool;
  • 70% are annoyed when brands make fun of competing brands; and
  • 74% get annoyed when brands use slang on social media.


Born between the early 1980s and early 2000s.

Social media channel of choice: It’s a close one between Facebook and Instagram.

Millennials are the most engaged and entertained on social media, according to Sprout Social. Additionally, 30% engage with a brand on social at least once a month.

“The top two types of content [Millennials] prefer to see from brands were entertainment (38%) and information (42%),” said Caravella. “This generation values authenticity and one-to-one experiences, so, for example, brands should create content with an exclusive, behind-the-scenes feel that meets that need.”

Additionally, research from Lend Edu found that Instagram influences 52.9% of Millennials’ online shopping most, followed by Facebook at 32.6%.

Ready to up the ante on your social media marketing strategies for your target audience? Caravella said it’s crucial to understand what makes them tick.

“Data is just the beginning — each and every social community is different,” he said. “Definitely relinquish the spray-and-pray approach and prioritize digging into the demographics and psychographics. There is a time and place for several strategies so the results of your analysis could shift your strategy from promotions to entertainment or from education to sales offers. Thoughtfully tailoring your content will lead to a more authentic social presence — and one that’s appreciated by your community.”


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