The Social Network Favorites of Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers

In order to use social media effectively for your brand, it’s important to understand your audience’s demographic. Information about what influences purchasing behavior and shopping habits can make your social media dollars work harder. According to MarketingProfs, a Sprout Social survey conducted in January 2017 of 1,000 Millennials (ages 18–34), Gen Xers (ages 34–54), and Baby Boomers (age 55+), showed subtleties about how and which social media platform each generation uses.

Facebook, which began as a social community on campuses across America, is now the most popular social network across all generations with some 65% of Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and Millennials.

But no one social platform should be considered a magic bullet. A further breakdown by age revealed that although Facebook is the favored social network with most Millennials (33%), Instagram (22%), and Snapchat (16%) are close behind. Gen X and Baby Boomers named YouTube as their second favorite. In fact, younger Millennials aged 18–24, chose Instagram for the top spot with 25%, beating Facebook and Snapchat by 1% and 2% respectively. All three generations align when it comes to preferring YouTube over Twitter.

All this information provides new challenges for your brand.

Spending money in multiple social networks that aren’t used by your audience is a waste of time and resources.

Furthermore, knowing the preferred social networks of Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers is just the beginning. To effectively apply an understanding of their habits by generation, you need to know if and why your audience will actually opt in to follow your brand. The survey found that Millennials and Gen Xers are more brand loyal, with almost 50% more likely to follow brands on social media than Baby Boomers.

When it comes to the purchasing timeline, Millennials (58.9%), Gen Xers (50.4%), and Baby Boomers (55%) all tend to follow a brand on social media prior to purchase, but they aren’t looking for the same experience. Millennials follow for entertainment value (38%) and information (42%), whereas Gen X is more likely following for contests (41%) and deals/promotions (58%). Baby Boomers are looking for a balanced mix of deals and promotion (60%) and information (53%).

Frequency of communication is also a factor in how each generation interacts with the brands they follow. When this data is segmented out, it tells who is starting a dialogue or interacting with your brand. On a monthly basis, 32% of Gen Xers engage with a brand they follow, 30% of Millennials, and 14% of Baby Boomers, who are mainly observers.

When it comes to offensive content from brands on social media, Gen Xers are 160% more likely than the other generations to click “unfollow.” Millennials are most likely to unfollow brands (22%) on social platforms if the marketing posts are considered annoying, and 29% of the Baby Boomers are most likely to unfollow if they consider brands’ posts to be spam and too frequent.

When people follow a brand on social, the thumbs up, shares, and likes can mean profit. 70% of Gen Xers will likely purchase something from a brand they follow. That number lowers to 60% of Millennials and 51% of Baby Boomers—all impressive numbers. When someone has a positive interaction with a brand, 71% said they’re more likely to buy from that company.

Regardless of what business you’re in, social media provides your brand with an opportunity to stand out from competitors. Investing a few minutes of thought and effort per interaction can make an impact on your business.

Start by identifying the best growth audience for your brand. Understand why you’re trying to reach them and what your goal is for this target. Then, strategize and plan against one of their preferred social networks and re-focus your strategy accordingly.

Follow the latest trends in social media marketing. Contact MDG today at 561-338-7797 or visit

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