How to Reach Each Generation Through Social Media Marketing

How to Reach Each Generation Through Social Media Marketing

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The future didn’t waste any time getting here! If the year 2020 sounds even more like the year technology takes a giant leap, the social media landscape is already altering. Traditional social media marketing approaches are changing along with audience demographics, and newer social media platforms are emerging from the primordial ooze to fill niches in the ecosystem. So if you’re still looking at your marketing through the lens of pushing out the same message but slightly tweaked, expect to work smarter and harder to stay ahead of the competition. Grab your jet pack and read on!

Social media trends to watch – everyone’s online

As mentioned in our December 28, 2019 blog post – “2020 Vision – Digital Marketing Trends to Look For” – social media is no longer solely the domain of youngsters. People of all ages have at least one social media account on which they actively engage. Are the members of your target demographic engaging with your business or brand? Danielle Wiley – founder and CEO of Sway Group – breaks down how to market to members of every generation, as well as the optimum platform on which to reach them.

While Wiley’s advice focuses on influencer marketing, the fundamental premise applies to crafting any strategy. Her observation that the trick to getting “… marketing right across the generations is understanding how different age groups prefer to connect online, and what kind of content they’re looking for.”

Here’s her breakdown, at a glance

Generation Z – Generally accepted to include those born from 1995 to 2010, this is the “born digital” generation. A frequent subject of our blog posts lately, over half of Generation Z members use their smartphone five or more hours a day, with over 26% using it 10 or more hours. They want brands to represent their values, expectations of themselves and their peers. They prioritize authenticity, have strong ethical standards and value privacy – including digital privacy, wanting knowledge about and control over how their data is collected and used.

Now some good news for brick-and-mortar retailers – members of Generation Z (66% of them) prefer shopping in stores because they want to see, hold and try on merchandise before buying – as well as ask questions. So if you’ve given into the fatalistic mantra that “retail is dead” because of e-commerce, you have a great opportunity to connect and engage with a new generation of real, live customers.

Wiley recommends using social media to drive in-store purchases, as nearly half of Generation Z shoppers use Instagram for brand discovery. While they may find a brand or product on Instagram, Wiley reports that 45% of these consumers still prefer the in-store experience once they’re ready to purchase. Other platforms to target are Snapchat and YouTube.

Millennials – Born from 1981 to 1996, this unfairly maligned generation was the first to enthusiastically embrace social media and digital technology. They continue to frequently switch between digital devices throughout the day, interacting with their smartphone, tablet, laptop (or desktop) and smart TV. They’re suspicious of celebrity influencers, who typically don’t influence their buying decisions.

Wiley’s advice: Avoid avocado toast jokes (and other tired millennial tropes). “Make them feel heard and understood with messaging that reflects their values, interests, and opinions. Focus on connecting, rather than selling.” And by the way, as we note, millennials are parents, homeowners, employees and employers. If you’re still thinking of them as young whippersnappers busy killing everything, it’s time for a major reality check.

Platforms to target consist of YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Generation X – Born from 1965 to 1980, this generation makes up only 25% of the population, but, according to Wiley, earns an impressive 31% of U.S. income dollars. However, they may be helping support aging parents while bringing up their children, so offering value in the form of coupons, discounts or other deals can effectively engage them. She also recommends appealing to their sense of nostalgia. Our editorial observation: If you want to start an argument with a Gen-Xer, just say that 90s music wasn’t so great!

Platforms to target include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, as well as blogs.

Boomers – Born from 1946 to 1964, Wiley notes that this generation is the most economically powerful, and “… showing the greatest increase in activity on social media platforms compared to other generations.” What’s not to love about that combination? If you aren’t bringing your social media marketing A-game to engage boomers – assuming they’re your target market (or part of your target market) – you’re losing out!

To reach boomers, Wiley recommends respecting their individuality and interests. They are interested in products and services that improve their health, overall quality of life and keep them independent. “They’re often searching for information on travel, healthcare, entertainment, hobbies, and family. Acknowledge their desire to support an active, healthy lifestyle, and avoid messaging that depicts them as elderly or feeble.”

To which we add, also steer clear of the “spry” or “feisty” stereotype – many boomers consider such images condescending, which is not the message you want your business to convey. Another controversy we’ve seen emerge is the common use of the word “granny” to refer to any woman over age 50. Treating members of your target audience with respect is the golden rule for all generations.

Facebook is the prevailing social media platform for boomers, followed by YouTube and engagement with blogs.

How influential are influencers?

One prevailing social media trend for 2020 is influencer marketing, of which we’ve devoted some blog posts to – including the role of micro-influencers. This practice refers to the successful combination of celebrity (someone prominent in their field, not just show-biz) endorsements and content-driven campaigns. Keeping in mind our own target audience of small-to-medium-size businesses, this will not likely be an important component in your social media strategy.

A more practical application of influencer marketing for small, independently owned businesses would be, for example, a food truck owner identifying a locally prominent regular customer, and working with that person to post some positive comments on his or her own social media accounts, and/or collaborate on videos.

If you are already not doing so, follow the social media accounts of other local business owners, trendsetters and tastemakers – and engage them by commenting on their posts. Take the time to cultivate relationships, so that they reciprocate and favorably mention your business in their posts. In the absence of a budget, creativity and initiative are key to forming such strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships.

New social media platforms to look at in 2020

While none of the three social media platforms that follow are exactly “new,” they’re not in the mix of platforms typically considered. Here is a brief look at those that may be advantageous in helping your business engage with members of your audience.

TikTok – As covered in our November 8, 2019 blog post – “How to Choose the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business” – TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world. Numbering 500 million active users, this mobile video platform allows users to create and share short-form videos with music, filters and other features.

Phenomenally popular with Generation Z, TikTok sells advertising, giving brands targeting this demographic the opportunity to create – in the company’s words – “Engaging and interactive formats for your brand story.”

Here we offer our usual caveat: Make sure you deliver your message in the right way, or your ads will backfire. TikTok’s audience can identify inauthentic, tone-deaf content, and will let you – and the rest of TikTok’s global community – know it!

Twitch – A subsidiary of Amazon, this live streaming video platform is for gamers and areas of interest to gamers. In its own words, “Twitch is where millions of people come together live every day to chat, interact, and make their own entertainment together.”

Advertising options include IAB display, video media and native opportunities – or custom executions. For businesses and brands targeting gamers, Twitch can be a worthwhile investment.

Vero – Often described as an alternative to Instagram, this platform is based on transparency, boasting about having no ads, no data mining that gathers information about users, and no algorithms determining what users see. As Neil Patel describes it, “Vero believes that people naturally seek connections, and that explains the explosive growth of social media over the past 10-15 years.”

While brands won’t be able to advertise directly on Vero, John E. Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility, notes that they will still be able to create profiles and partner with influencers to promote their products.

“It’s an incredible way to reach an audience and gain its trust, and is particularly effective when it comes to Generation Z,” says Lincoln. “Reportedly, 85% of Gen Z users will use social media to learn about a product before they purchase it, and 63% of Gen Z members actually prefer the endorsement of social media influencers to traditional celebrities.”

The take-home message

With everyone now engaging on at least one social media platform on a regular basis, businesses need to pay greater attention to who is on each platform and how they’re using it in order to best reach their target market. For small-to-medium-size businesses, engaging in influencer marketing will most likely be an organic effort rather than paid. Advertising on niche social media platforms can help you reach more potential customers if your messaging rings true.

The bottom line is, it’s now more important than ever to have a social media marketing strategy. And if you sense it’s time for our blatant self-promotion, here it is!

Unlike many other marketing agencies, Virtual Stacks Systems was born digital, as well. We also have the advantage of an innovative, experienced team that knows how to reach multi-generational audiences. We provide comprehensive social media marketing services, as well as PPC advertising, website design and redesign, SEO marketing, review management services, social media marketing, video production and much more! Contact us to get started.


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