In this article we wrote for Forbes, we looked at generation-based social media marketing and what both marketers and brands need to be aware of when creating their messaging.
As originally published on Forbes.com.
Most marketing messages aren’t cross-generational, meaning that an ad that may resonate with one generation could be lost on another. It’s important for a business not only to identify its target market, but to craft a message that makes a connection to its intended audience. With all of these generational labels — from boomers to Generation Z — businesses need to know what works and who those people who make up each generation really are so that their advertising efforts target the right consumer base.
Baby boomers were born shortly following the end of World War II, spanning between 1946 and 1964. Unlike today’s younger generations, baby boomers are comfortable with being reached through traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers).
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t market to them online. Boomers are actively engaged on Facebook and YouTube, reaching out and sharing content with their family and friends and watching videos. Targeting them on Facebook is a great idea, especially if your messaging can be done in an informative video, with supporting copy that links to your website or product page.
Baby boomers tend to be more cost-aware, so including clear and concise pricing in your ads and online is a must for this generation. Any messaging in the digital realm should be cohesive to the messaging being sent to boomers that still consume content in newspapers, flyers or billboards.
This generation saw the advent of computers and the internet. Born between 1964 and 1980, these latchkey kids grew up to later spend their time online consuming videos on YouTube and Facebook as adults.
Gen X has been overlooked by most brands that jumped from baby boomers right to millennials, but this can be seen as a mistake by smart marketers, as those in the Gen X category are in the prime of their lives, both in terms of age and income. An omnichannel approach works best for this generation. Because Gen X bridged the gap between traditional and digital, they still have an appreciation of both old and new media. Taking an omnichannel marketing approach to combine traditional and in-store marketing with digital and social media will link the fluid preferences of Gen X and cultivate an overall seamless shopping experience.
Create videos and copy that speak to this “forgotten” generation, and complement them with traditional advertising. Unlike with baby boomers, marketers can focus more of their efforts online to reach Gen Xers, but it’s also best to not forget to keep a little bit of traditional marketing in the mix.
Born between 1981 and 1996, Generation Y, more commonly referred to as millennials, was born into a world of emerging technology. While they aren’t as brand-loyal as baby boomers, they are heavily influenced by word-of-mouth and online reviews. They use YouTube, Facebook and Instagram as their primary social media platforms, which offers more chances for marketers to reach them, especially as they use social media to conduct product research before making a buying decision.
Dabbling a bit between traditional and digital marketing works for millennials’ parents, Gen X; however, an all-digital approach is best for this generation. Short pre-roll ads, engaging video ads on Facebook and Instagram, and even dipping toes into augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) with apps and special interactive sites tend to resonate with millennials.
If brands and businesses thought that millennials were tech-driven, they need to prepare for Generation Z. This generation, who will make up 40% of all spending consumers in 2020, was born between 1996 and 2012. Technology and social media have been a part of their lives since the beginning. They don’t know what a pager is but can create a viral TikTok video in minutes.
Of all of the major social media platforms, Gen Z spends most of its time on Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook. And the hot platform of the moment, TikTok, is starting to gain traction not only with this generation but with marketers looking to connect with youth.
Gen Z wants personalization. What’s being marketed to John and Jane Smith isn’t going to work for them. Brands need to realize that hyper-personalized content and ads will reach this generation more effectively than generically targeted ads. Gen Z also takes into consideration social causes and will make buying decisions based on the impact that a product or overall company has on a cause that is near to their hearts. Short pre-roll videos on YouTube and producing a hashtag challenge on TikTok with social good messaging can help pull Gen Z toward your brand.
At Clearbridge Branding Agency, we start by looking at the current audience of a brand and then ask our clients what audience they want to reach. For some, it’s a particular population, and we can design creative for that generation. For others, they want to reach all markets. If that’s the case, then we craft specific messaging for each age demographic to ensure that the brand or product resonates in a different way for each generation, but keeping the underlying message and core product or brand value the same.
Know your audience and where they spend their time online, and then craft messaging that fits the way they consume content.