In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s hard to argue against the value
of social media.
Still, many PR and marketing managers struggle with just how to
spend their time crafting and publishing content online—and what will best
engage consumers of all ages.
A new survey by Sprout Social can help shed light on the dilemma. It
surveyed 1,000 consumers in three generation brackets: millennials (ages 18 to 34), Generation X (ages 34 to 54) and Baby
Boomers (ages 55 and up).
“The results revealed a few commonalities and shed light on the differences
between the behaviors, perceptions and expectations of each generation,”
Sprout Social said.
Here’s what brand managers should know:
1. Facebook is king.
Regardless of age bracket, Facebook still ranks No. 1 as most consumers’
preferred social network.
Though some millennials listed Instagram (22.2 percent) or Snapchat (15.8
percent) as their top choice, Facebook remained the winner with 33 percent
of the vote.
When looking at younger millennials (ages 18–24), the answer changes
slightly: The report revealed that 25 percent prefer Instagram, compared
with 24.4 percent who picked Facebook as the top choice, and 23.3 percent
chose Snapchat. The answers reveal that although younger consumers turn to
mobile social platforms, they’re also regularly accessing Facebook.
The preference for Facebook becomes more pronounced when one looks at older
consumers. Both Gen X and Baby-Boomer respondents ranked YouTube as the No.
2 most-preferred platform, but 54 percent of Gen X consumers favor
Facebook. The percentage is even higher when it comes to Baby Boomers.
What does that mean for PR and marketing pros? Don’t ignore the power of
Though it’s a struggle to
nab organic reach on the platform, having an active presence can give brand managers many opportunities to
interact with consumers and increase leads and sales. However, don’t make
Facebook your only focus.
Sprout Social reported:
The Facebook Generation is officially every generation. But when it comes
to your brand’s social strategy, one social network should never reign
supreme. Plus, if the behavioral patterns Millennials are demonstrating are
any indication, younger generations will be more willing to split their
time equally across a wide range of social communities.
Craft content specific to your audience and the platform to which you’re
posting—and don’t forget to use visuals. (Video content will net you the most reach on Facebook.)
Boost buzz and build brand recognition on the hottest social media
platforms at Disney World.]
Sprout Social advised:
… Start by identifying a growth audience that makes sense for your brand.
Gain a clear understanding of why you’re trying to reach them and what your
goals are for targeting this age group. From there, strategize and plan
against one of the social networks they prefer and adjust your strategy
2. More than half of consumers are willing to connect with your brand
The report revealed that 58.9 percent of millennial consumers—along with
50.4 percent of Gen X and 55 percent of Baby Boomers—often follow a brand
on social media before buying a product.
This evidence can give you the confidence to move forward with your social
media marketing plan, but take heed: Each generation looks for a different
Sixty percent of Baby Boomers follow brands for deals and promotions, and
53 percent seek information. More than half (58 percent) of Gen X consumers
also look for deals, but 41 percent will follow your brand online for a
In contrast, millennials seek information (41 percent) and entertainment
(38 percent). That’s probably why
the snark dished by social media teams such as Wendy’s
gains admiration among younger consumers.
The differences between generations continue with how often they engage
with brands and what turns them off.
For example, millennials are twice as likely as other consumers to
communicate with brand managers through social media as by email or
phone—and Gen X consumers are 160 percent more likely to unfollow brands
that voice opinions opposite of their personal beliefs or that say
something they deem offensive.
The key to a successful social media presence is listening to and
understanding your audience. They should dictate the type of content you
create, along with where (and how often) you share it.
Sprout Social said:
In order to give your audience what they want you need to understand who
they are and what they’re looking for first. On Facebook, your brand’s
audience makeup might look drastically different than it does on Pinterest.
Your social content strategy, publishing patterns and brand messaging
should reflect that difference. Your marketing strategy needs to be
3. Following isn’t everything—but it means a lot.
PR and marketing pros can get wrapped up in social media “likes,” views,
shares and retweets, instead of measuring the true effect their efforts
have on boosting their respective organizations’ bottom lines.
Though measuring the proper social media analytics is essential, your
follower numbers can also translate to money in the bank.
Overall, 62 percent of survey respondents said they are either likely or
somewhat likely to buy from a brand they follow online. Consumers’
inclination to buy increases by 14 percent after they’ve had a positive
interaction with a brand online.
To take advantage of this information—and to get approval from your
organization’s executives—PR and marketing pros should carefully position
social media’s importance in their campaign efforts.
You should also hone your content marketing and brand journalism skills,
because capturing consumers’ attention online can translate into revenue.
Sprout Social reported:
Over 25,000 repins on your brand’s macaroni and cheese recipe doesn’t
correlate to 25,000 boxes of pasta sold. A Facebook fan base of upwards of
one million doesn’t mean you’ll be named to the Fortune 500. …[T]hat
doesn’t mean a follow has no value.
… With such a staggering percentage of individuals willing to buy, you need
to put effort into unearthing what types of social content will push them
over the edge to purchase.
How does this report match up with your online interactions with consumers, Ragan readers? What will you do differently?