How Industry Influencers Use Social Media to Navigate the Generation Gap

In Marketing, Age IS More than Just a Number

Industry Influencers Marketing Magazine Issue 28Navigating the Generation Gap with Social Media Marketing

As an Industry Influencer, you are probably using social media to reach your customers online, which is a very smart tactic. What I would like to know is if you are implementing BRILLIANT strategies for connecting with your ideal buyer?

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 revenue) you see as a result of your efforts.

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.

Choosing the Best Social Media Platform to Reach Your Ideal Buyer

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.

  • 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%.


Now, let’s take a look at Twitter, my favorite and a few marketing statistics:

Younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to be on Twitter. This platform is somewhat more popular among the highly educated: 29% of internet users with college degrees use Twitter, compared with 20% of those with high school degrees or less.

  • There are 310 million monthly active users
  • 80% of active users access the site via mobile - another reason why your website must be mobile optimized!
  • 65.8% of US companies with 100+ employees use Twitter for marketing
  • 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been replied to
  • 58% of top brands have over 100,00 followers on Twitter
  • 92% of companies Tweet more than once a day, 42% Tweet 1-5 times a day, and 19% Tweet 6-10 times a day
  • The average Twitter user follows five businesses
  • 80% of Twitter users have mentioned a brand in a Tweet
  • 54% of users surveyed by Twitter reported that they had taken action after seeing a brand mentioned in Tweets (including visiting their website, searching for the brand, or retweeting content)
  • The last two years have seen a 2.5x increase in customer service conversations on Twitter
  • 60% of consumers expect brands to respond to their query within the hour, but the average is 1 hour 24 minutes.
  • 76% of consumers are likely to recommend the brand following friendly service
  • Brands using Twitter for customer service see a 19% lift in customer satisfaction
  • Tweets with images receive 18% more click throughs, 89% more likes, and 150% more retweets.
  • In the 2016 Q1 shareholder letter, Twitter revealed total ad engagements grew 208% year-on-year

LinkedIn, an honorable mention, another personal favorite, because my agency is B2B. LinkedIn puts me right in front of C-Level employees, business owners and motivated brand leaders.  29% of internet users (25% of all U.S. adults) use LinkedIn. This platform has long been popular with college graduates and higher income earners, and this trend continues to hold true today. Half (50%) of online adults with college degrees are on LinkedIn, compared with 27% of those who have attended but not graduated from college and just 12% of those with high school degrees or less. This is true for the obvious networking and job seeking reasons.

Additionally, 45% of online adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more use LinkedIn, compared with just 21% of those living in households with an annual income of less than $30,000. And 35% of online adults who are employed use LinkedIn, compared with 17% of those who are not employed for pay.

Here’s the takeaway, the social media sites you choose for your brand should be dictated by where your ideal buyer spends the most time. If you hope to engage with Millennials and Generation Z, Instagram is the clear winner. For older women, Pinterest is a must. If you are a B2B, LinkedIn and Twitter may serve you well.

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 both the number of new connections and quality of your engagement.

Generation Z

Let’s start with the youngest generation, Generation Z, born between 1998-2008. We discussed earlier, 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. More importantly, the short attention span means that you have a very small window to capture their attention and will have to work harder to maintain it.

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. Your relationship will be engaging. Get them to participate. Talk to them, not at them. Totally reciprocal relationship.


Millennials, born between 1982 and 2002,  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 considerable 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 find a way to link your business to a cause it can help you connect with them fluidly.

Generation X

Generation X, born between 1965-1985,  share some similarities with Millennials, and 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, you may want to consider developing a few case studies to share on your blog and Facebook. This generation are generally researchers. We are not known to be impulsive buyers.  If you want to engage Generation Xers, help them feel confident in making the purchase and keep in touch with them to reduce the symptoms of buyer’s remorse.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers may 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.

Note: If you would like more info about understanding each generation or need clarity, here is a good article, Here is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to the Facts.

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

I hope you have found this post helpful, I would love to hear from you. Get in the conversation, share your thoughts below.

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About The Author


Andrea Callahan is a brand designer. She helps passion & purpose-driven entrepreneurs maximize their strengths to craft and implement an image that represents their WHY and to use that why to position themselves as an Industry Influencer. She a speaker, seminar leader and the author of, "It's Your Brand ~ Make Your Identity Clear" available on Callahan launched the Industry Influencer Academy at

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