How Different Generations Use Social Media
As marketers know, everyone’s trying to get a handle on Gen Z's core values. However, focusing only on Generation Z, or even Millennials for that matter, misses a whole lot of people. Understanding what makes generations tick and how they differ from each other helps marketers engage and raise awareness for their brands more adroitly.
Fundraisers understand that money makes the nonprofit world go round. And while Gen Z is the new generation, the reality is that they're only just getting started. Sure, they know how to handle TikTok like nobody's business. But to raise money for your nonprofit, especially with major donors, you want to consider how Millennials, Gen X and even Boomers (who still have significant financial assets) consume data and social media information.
Social Sprout published an insightful piece for nonprofit marketers about how each generation used social. The generations surveyed included Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers. One of the elements that came out across all generations was that regardless of age, every generation increased usage of social media. And that means that it's vital for marketers to understand how each generation consumes and uses social media to target and message them properly.
Let's highlight each generation and its use of social media. And after sharing some insights, I'll include a pro tip to ensure your nonprofit leverages each generation well.
Gen Z and Its Use of Social Platforms
As everyone knows, Gen Z is the first generation with digital and social media from birth. And as expected, this generation is entirely comfortable consuming and engaging with brands almost entirely on social media. In fact, according to the report, 78% state that's how they learn about new brands. Moreover, 76% say that social allows them to interact with brands.
One other significant finding is that Gen Z is aware of the issues around data privacy. As we know, there's a much greater awareness about how organizations use — and protect — data. Gen Z is willing to share their personal information. However, they want organizations to make better decisions with their data. In other words, they want third parties to make their experience better, seamless, but not “invasive or overbearing.”
Pro Tip for Gen Z: On average, Gen Z spends 4.5 hours daily on social media, and that's a lot of time. If your nonprofit wants to target this group, you have to be on the newer platforms (e.g., TikTok) but spend the time. In other words, responding to their comments a week later isn't going to cut it.
Millennials and Their Expectations of Social and Life
About 72% of Millennials state that social media is an "essential" aspect of their lives. Millennials care about lifestyle brands and those associated with their passions and interests. Like Gen Z, a significant portion (75%) of Millennials find that social media allows them to engage with brands.
Something to keep in mind about Millennials is that it's a significantly diverse and massive generation. It's also a highly well-educated generation. Unlike earlier generations, Millennials are less likely to live in a family of their own than earlier generations at the same stages in life. They are more open to living with their partners, and if they have children, they have them later in life.
Pro Tip for Millennials: Millennials can spot a fake a mile away, and they’re not fans of traditional advertisements. Instead, if you want to promote your brand to this group, you'll want to use many supporter and donor stories (i.e., social validation). Also, they like corporation partnerships supporting nonprofits, so consider leveraging CSR.
Generation X, The 'Latch Key' Group
Gen X knows the following very well — the generation is a blip on the marketing screen. In other words, because the generation is sandwiched between two massive groups, Boomers and Millennials, Gen X is a bit of a forgotten group. They were the first generation to grow up with both parents working outside the home. Hence, they are considered the "latch key" generation.
Gen Xers like to explore, and when it comes to brands — 56% learn about new ones on social. This generation is typically independently minded, and they are entrepreneurial. However, they don't follow what others tell them, and this independent group is much more likely to want to assess brands for themselves.
Pro Tip for Generation X: While it’s essential to ensure that everything you do is mobile-ready, 40% of Gen X prefers to view content on laptops, and is more apt to convert through email. Also, because its members want to research for themselves, you'll engage them more if you have lots of "how-tos and tutorial videos (e.g., during a peer-to-peer fundraiser).
Boomers and Social Media
Finally, we have the Boomers. And sure, this generation adopted social media more slowly than the latter groups, but they too are on social. As with Gen X, this group tends to congregate most on Facebook. However, aside from keeping in touch with their kids and grandkids, 48% of Boomers engage with brands on social media.
Moreover, as we know, the pandemic forced more people online. They have gotten used to exploring social media to maintain communications with those they know and brands. But, they are less likely than younger generations to create user accounts on newer platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat and Clubhouse.
Pro Tip for Boomers: Boomers care about a high level of relationships with brands. In other words, this is the generation most likely wanting to see things in person. Therefore, to engage with Boomers, think of in-person over social media. In other words, social media is simply a point of entry and brand awareness, but if you want to convert them, you'll have to speak or meet with them.
Kristy Morris is a creative professional in corporate and nonprofit social media advertising and brand strategy. As the chief marketing officer at Funds2Orgs and Elsey Enterprises, she works with a suite of global fundraising brands and manages national campaigns for her clients. She hosts a monthly webinar with Funds2Orgs, teaching nonprofits how to make an impact with their social media strategy. Kristy is a passionate individual that loves nothing more than to help others make an impact in their market and the world.
Kristy also contributes monthly to her NonProfit PRO blog, “Marketing IRL.”