You’re probably using social media to reach your customers online, but are you being smart about it? The truth is that not all social media users are created equal. The social media sites you use – and how you use them – can have a huge impact on the ROI (and profits) you see as a result.

In fact…

There are big differences in the ways that people use social media, and many of those differences are generational. It turns out that when it comes to using social media effectively, age matters.

Social Media by the Numbers

Let’s start by looking at some demographic information for the most popular social media platforms. What you’ll notice is that the age of your customers dictates, in large part, where you’ll be able to reach them. All statistics come from the Pew Research Center.

  • Nearly eight in ten American adults use Facebook, and it is by far the largest social media site. While users cover a wide range of ages, the highest percentages are in the 18-29 range, with 88%. The numbers decreased with age, but a still-impressive 62% of adults over the age of 65 use Facebook.
  • 32% of all online adults, and 28% of Americans, use Instagram. Here, the demographics skew much younger than Facebook. In fact, 59% of Instagram users are under the age of 30.
  • Pinterest is nearly as popular as Instagram, with 31% of all adults using the site. However, here the demographics skew heavily female, and are evenly spaced among all age groups. Pinterest users also tend to be more affluent than users of other social media sites.
  • 87% of Millennials and 85% of Baby Boomers have a Facebook account.
  • The two social media sites with the highest daily engagement are Facebook with 76%, and Instagram with 51%.

The social media sites you choose for your business should be dictated by who your customers are. If you hope to engage with Millennials and Generation Z, Instagram is the clear winner. For older women, Pinterest is a must.

Choosing Content to Appeal to Your Target Customers

The type of content you share is just as important as where you share it. In fact, picking the right format and sources can make a huge difference in terms of your engagement.

Generation Z

Let’s start with the youngest generation, Generation Z. As stated previously, their preferred social media site is Instagram, and the Pew Research Center points out that their average attention span is a mere eight seconds. That means that they’re far more likely to respond to visual content than written content.

Some other things to keep in mind about Generation Z are:

  • They prefer real people rather than celebrities or actors in their content.
  • They’re quick to embrace new technology, such as VR (virtual reality).
  • They enjoy creating content as much, if not more than, consuming it.

If you want to connect with Generation Z, try encouraging them to share their photographs on Instagram or Facebook, and feature people they’ll relate to.

Millennials

Millennials are a huge generation with a tremendous amount of purchasing power. Marketing to them represents a challenge, but here are some things you should know.

  • Facebook is their top social media site.
  • The number one thing Millennials crave in marketing is authenticity.
  • As a rule, Millennials place a huge amount of importance on peer reviews and influence. Connecting with micro-influencers can be a very effective way of reaching Millennials.

Social involvement matters to Millennials, so if you can find a way to link your business to a cause it can help you connect with them.

Generation X

Generation X shares some similarities with Millennials, but they tend to be a bit harder to pin down when it comes to their content preferences. Here are some tips to help you connect with Generation X:

  • Members of Generation X are less likely to access the web on mobile devices than Generation Z or Millennials.
  • Their preferred form of online content is blog posts, followed by images, comments, eBooks, and case studies.
  • They are most likely to be online during business hours and between 8:00 pm and midnight.

They are far more likely to use Facebook than any other social media site. If you offer a product or service for sale, then you may want to consider developing a few case studies and sharing them on your blog and Facebook if you want to engage Generation Xers.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers might have lagged behind later generations when it comes to adopting technology, but they’ve caught up now. Most baby boomers own mobile devices and use the internet in some capacity. Here are some things to keep in mind as you market to Baby Boomers:

  • Facebook is by far their most preferred social media site.
  • Baby Boomers research companies online, but they’re less likely to want to engage with them online and more likely simply to review basic information before calling or visiting you in person.
  • Many Baby Boomers are strongly driven by savings, and are likely to respond to coupons, sales, and other value-based marketing.
  • Baby Boomers tend to be highly loyal customers. Once they try a brand and like it, they will stick with it through thick and thin. As a result, they can make excellent brand ambassadors.

If you want to reach Baby Boomers, make sure that basic information about your business is easily accessible on your website, social media pages, and local directories. It’s also a good idea to reach out to them with special sales and bargains as a way of emphasizing that you value their business. They’ll reward you with intense loyalty.

As you can see, there are some significant differences between generations when it comes to marketing. If you take the time to learn about your customers and tailor your content to their preferences, you’ll be able to maximize your engagement – and grow your business.