Producing content and sharing it on social media isn’t enough.
Businesses need to consider their audience, who they want to consume their content, and choose their social media platform carefully.
Specifically, businesses need to consider who their audience is what generation they belong to.
A recent survey from Visual Objects found generation to be a primary determinant for how different generations use social media.
Use Caution With Stereotyping Generations
It’s important to remember that applying generational stereotypes can be a minefield. Sweeping generalizations are dangerous.
Assuming that all baby boomers can scarcely maneuver their way through a web link is as silly as believing that no Gen Z member can comprehend a sentence over 12 words long. There are always exceptions.
Nonetheless, survey results tend to back up many of the broader stereotypes. For example, a user’s age often determines their expectations for, comfort with, and relationship to a website’s user experience (UX), according to Visual Objects.
Young users are more comfortable using digital interfaces than older generations, according to Jordan DeVries, director of UX at the user experience design company, Brave UX.
“If you’re that age, you’ve grown up with these gestural design patterns on phones that are just inherent,” DeVries said in the Visual Objects report.
Know Your Audience
Before you embrace a social media strategy, it’s crucial to understand your target audience. If you’re thinking baby boomer but your audience is Generation Z, you might lose the battle before it even begins.
Certainly, this applies to the social media platforms you choose to emphasize. If you’re relying on Facebook to reach Gen Z, you’ve missed the boat.
Only 36% of Gen Z report logging into Facebook at least once a week, according to The Manifest.
Visual Objects notes that the percentage of users who report that Facebook is their most-visited website increases the older the users are. This confirms data that has shown that Facebook’s user base is aging.
Generation Z users often rely on Instagram to discover new brands and products, and there are predictions that Instagram could overtake Facebook in the number of users in coming years.
Segment Audiences Using Data-Driven Audience Personas
Rather than simply applying these generational stereotypes across the board, the smart way to devise a marketing strategy is to use research to segment your audience into personas to inform how you target them via social media.
Divide your target audience into specific segments – 20-to-24-year-old female professionals, for example – and create a detailed persona for each, including their preferred platforms, social media likes and dislikes, the content they are posting, the devices they use, their purchasing habits, the best hours for posting and so on.
Such data, as this Brandwatch post notes, can come from a variety of sources, including web analytics, social listening tools, digital surveys and panels, and social media insights from the various platforms.
By creating a social media marketing strategy that targets these personas, you can help make sure your campaign produces the maximum return for your investment.
Video Is Increasingly Important, and Not Just for Gen Z
Video content is becoming more popular with all age groups. This is especially true of younger viewers, who have a video-centric approach to the internet.
“Video content is absolutely the starting point that we recommend and we recommend it for two main reasons,” said Jeff Gibbard, chief brand officer at From the Future, a digital agency in Philadelphia.
The first, he said, is the platforms themselves.
“It’s pretty clear that all of the networks favor video,” said Gibbard. “With Facebook, they definitely give preferential treatment to video over other forms of content. We’ve seen that in just about all of our analytics have validated that assumption. Video will generally do better. The format itself seems to be preferred by many networks.”
The second, according to Gibbard, is the multiple ways you can use video across different platforms.
“Video is probably the easiest starting point to create content that can then otherwise be repurposed,” he said. “If you take that video, you can generally create a blog post out of that video. You can generally then take screenshots and turn them into Instagram posts. You can then generally create status updates. Video lends itself to being repurposed probably more easily than any other content.”
And don’t assume older users are not interested in video. Facebook has helped ease boomers into digital media, allowing them keep in touch with their children, grandchildren and other family members via photos and videos. Digital literacy is improving for all generations.
Meeting the Expectations of Today’s Users Is Critical
Today’s users have different expectations about information gathering and access than those of even a few years ago. These shifting expectations need to play into your social media marketing strategy.
You need to make it possible for people to find new content about your company on social at all times to meet information expectations of today’s users. This means making fresh posts, including links that users can follow to learn more or to get questions answered.
Users of all ages will notice a lack of diversity, be it in your content, website or ads. “Generation Z is especially turned off when brands don’t demonstrate a multicultural and inclusive mindset,” notes Social Media Week, which recommends that your brand images reflect a mix of people from different cultures, and that your social media campaigns such as influencer marketing show diversity and cultural sensitivity.
Be transparent about your privacy policies. In the wake of scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has seen a drastic decline in user trust. Your company should adopt policies that address customers’ privacy concerns and make clear what you will and will not do with any data that you collect.
Social Media Marketing Is Constantly Evolving – Don’t Fall Behind
Don’t get too comfortable using the same platform to reach your target audience, even if it’s their favorite spot. The social media world is constantly evolving, and next year’s hottest platform may only be in the development stages now.