Marketers everywhere are crazy for the Millennial market, looking for any way they can to boost their appeal to Millennials and tap into their massive buying potential. The problem with this is that the Millennial bracket is so broad - there are more Millennials than any other age bracket in the US, and the range of the Millennial demographic (those born between 1982 and 2004) incorporates a wide variation in upbringing and philosophy. It may not actually be affective to heap them all into one broad-encompassing basket.
But demographic profiles are something we've long come to rely on, so 'Millennials' will continue to be a focus for some time to come. And as such, it's important to get an understanding of Millennial habits and behaviors, which Sprout Social has tried to provide some more insight on in their latest study, which looks at variations in social media usage among the different age groups.
First off, on platform usage - in news that will come as no surprise to anyone, Facebook is by far the most popular platform across all demographic brackets - though among Millennials there is a bit of a shift.
As you can see, Facebook's dominance is not as pronounced in that Millennial subset, with both Instagram and Snapchat coming up behind. Overall, Millennials have a much wider spread of social platform preference, which underlines the fact that marketers need to be aware of the key platforms for their, specific audiences, rather than relying on wider trends.
If your audience is predominantly on Instagram that's where you need to be - generic platform preference is less pronounced among Millennial users.
Also worth noting - YouTube ranks very high among those older age groups.
Sprout's research also shows that both Millennials and Gen Xers are twice as likely to follow a brand on social as Baby Boomers are.
Now, that might go without saying to some degree - we know that younger users are more aligned to social media as a key interactive platform - but it does further underline the need to have a brand presence, as a significant percentage of users are now looking to get product and brand information from social channels.
Sprout also found that Millennials are more likely to follow brands for entertainment (38%) and information (42%), whereas Generation Xers are interested in contests (41%) and deals and promotions (58%). Baby Boomers are also looking for deals and promotions (60%) as well as product information (53%).
These are some interesting insights which could help inform your outreach strategy when looking to boost your appeal to different markets.
Sprout also found that while Millennial and Generation X users interact with brands on social at similar rates, Baby Boomers are far more likely to be observers.
That finding somewhat correlates with the previous point - Boomers are following fewer brands, so they're logically going to interact less. But it may also be worth considering in your process, as not all of your audience is going to necessarily indicate their interest in overt ways. This is particularly true in older subsets.
Sprout also looked at the reasons why the different audiences unfollow brands on social, with Generation X users nearly 160% more likely than the other generations to unfollow a brand that says something offensive or in opposition to their personal beliefs.
There are some important considerations to keep in mind here - while 'Annoying' and 'Offensive' are relative terms, and it's hard to know, exactly, what each means, the other categories are fairly clear. Boomers hate spam, while bad customer experience is also a significant turn-off for all brackets.
In terms of correlation between social media actions and purchases, Sprout found that nearly seven in ten Generation X users will likely purchase something from a brand they follow, leading the other brackets.
So if you're trying to appeal to Generation X, don't publish divisive or offensive content, and they'll likely repay your efforts with brand loyalty. That's obviously an over-simplification of the data, but you get what I mean.
There's a range of other generational insights in the Q1 2017 Sprout Social Index, and it's worth a look, particularly if you're looking to gear your social strategy towards these demographic-defined markets.
As noted, given the modern advances we've seen in audience targeting and reach, it may make more sense to target audience subsets more specifically, but even if you do take that approach, these wider trends can still help drive better results.