Generational Social Media Behaviors

According to a new report from Fizziology, prepared by BaM, Handley and Jennette, marketers are still struggling with how to communicate with their audiences in social media in a way that they don’t with more traditional media. The numbers prove that each generation is represented in social media in mass. Now it’s about understanding how they use social, what their habits are and how to speak to them in a way that is meaningful, inspires action, and authentic.

The report outlines social media behaviors, tone and triggers of Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers, so marketers can understand how to effectively engage with target audiences. As social media matures as an element of a marketing campaign, so should the sophistication of targeting and message, says the report.

The social media behaviors of Millennials vs. GenX and Boomers: Born after 1981, most ethnically diverse generation ever; digital natives; politically and socially liberal; not very religious; educated but burdened with college debt; slow to marry and have children; optimistic about the future…

  • Millennials express complaints (primarily about school, relationships and general pet peeves) almost 2x more than Gen X and 3x more than Boomers
  • Millennials are also more likely to interact with celebrities and talk about dating/relationships, music and sports
  • Although the youngest, Millennials are most likely to be nostalgic on social media, they religiously post photos, talk about childhood TV shows and movies they grew up watching, and often reminisce about old fashion trends
  • Millennials tweet an average of 8x a day, which is slightly more than Gen X and significantly less than Boomers
  • Millennials talk about music significantly more than the other generations. Hip-hop dominates their music conversation, but they also often talk about musicians that rose to prominence in the 90s and early 2000s
  • Millennials don’t often share news articles from traditional media outlets, but instead share BuzzFeed lists and quiz results. In fact, 21% of all articles shared by Millennials came from Buzzfeed
  • Sports-loving Millennials hashtag vote in promotions like the Face of MLB. They live-tweet during NBA games and the Chicago Bulls are popular among this group. They use the appropriate hashtags to tweet during shows like Scandal, Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead and True Detective
  • Millennials were interested in blockbusters like Gravity and Captain America, but they also spoke nostalgically about movies they watched in childhood like Land Before Time and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
  • While Millennials talk a lot about celebrities, music and sports, they don’t’ name-drop brands as much as Gen X and Boomers do

The social media behaviors of GenX, born 1965-1980, shows that they are a health-conscious group more likely to talk about nutrition and fitness than Millennials and Boomers. They are 75% more likely to talk about tech news and products/apps than Millennials and Boomers, and often share inspirational, positive messages and are advocates for brands that share the same outlook.

  • Gen Xers tweet an average of 6x a day, which is slightly less than Millennials and significantly less than Boomers. They are children of the Reagan Revolution and the divorce Revolution; Distrustful of institutions and government; Economically conservative and Socially Liberal  
  • Gen Xers use hashtags in political conversation (#WhySheRan), as well as to keep up with unfolding news stories (#MH370). They also enjoying watching TV socially, often using TV Tag to customize their social feeds during their favorite shows, which include dramas like House of Cards, Nashville and True Detective
  • Gen Xers post more photos (22% of conversation) than Millennials and Boomers – including “Food porn,” photos of beer and liquor, snapshots taken while traveling, pics at concerts/events with friends
  • This group is most likely to consume and share tech news. They enjoy using apps like Untappd, a social check-in network for beer aficionados. They also use apps like Uber, Spotify and Foursquare and follow the news around Bitcoin
  • This generation grew up as fans of Morrissey, The Smiths and David Bowie and they continue to listen to those artists today. They also enjoy the folk sounds of artists like Milk Carton Kids, Norah Jones, Avett Brothers and Beck. Gen X parents took their kids to see The Lego Movie and Frozen.
  • This segment will engage with their favorite brands on social. They appreciate brands with positive messaging and a strong social presence. They consume and share the most media (news clips, tech reviews, op-ed pieces, long reads, etc.) via their social networks. They are followers of outlets like NPR, Slate, Mashable and AV Club.

The social media behaviors of Boomers, born 1946-1964, shows that they are 3x more likely to talk about shopping than Gen X and Millennials, and also talk about family more than the other segments. They are significantly more likely to use social media to engage in brand promotions and giveaways than Gen X and Millennials.

Boomers frequently engage in lengthy Twitter chats, united by a corresponding hashtag, and “tweetups,” or in-person meetups planned via Twitter. They tweet an average of 15x a day, more than Millennials and Gen X combined.

Born during fertility spike post-WWII, ntil birth control pill came to market. Half or more have grown conservative with age despite participating in counterculture movements in the 60s. 10,000 boomers a day will turn 65 until 2030

Boomers were active tweeters during both the Oscars and NASCAR’s Daytona 500. They followed news updates regarding Duke Energy’s coal ash spill using a hashtag and expressed political opinions with hashtags (#P2). They use hashtags to jump into conversations, as well as to engage in brand promotions and giveaways (#DisneySide, #iPadGames, #Win)

  • Boomers post less photos than Millennials and Gen X, but photos still make up 16% of their conversation
  • TV Baby Boomers are hooked on reality series like the Real Housewives franchise and juicy dramas like Scandal. They are also likely to be fans of NASCAR, and were highly engaged during the Daytona 500
  • They have wide-ranging musical tastes, but rock is the most popular genre. They enjoy everything from The Smiths to indie rock group, Pavement. They are also fans of country musicians like George Strait and Rodney Atkins
  • Baby Boomers are partial to brands like Michael’s, Kraft and Frito-Lay that have a strong social media presence, feature DIY and recipe ideas and frequently engage their fans in giveaways and contests.

Summarizing, the report says that Boomers are considerably more talkative on social media than Millennials and Gen X. They frequently engage in long conversations and Twitter chats. Meanwhile, Gen X is the quietest of the three segments. Millennial and Gen X conversation peaked, while Boomer conversation rose sharply, on March 2nd coinciding with the 86th Academy Awards.

Popular Social Topic Comparison

 

Frequency in Conversion

Segment

Millennials

GenX

Boomers

Celebrities

15%

10%

8%

Complaint

9%

5%

3%

Dating

4%

1%

2%

Drinking

5%

5%

1%

Family

1%

4%

6%

Food

6%

9%

8%

Health

2%

5%

3%

Humor

20%

18%

14%

Inspirational

2%

7%

5%

Movies

5%

4%

6%

Music

14%

8%

4%

News

7%

9%

9%

Photos

19%

22%

16%

Politics

2%

7%

8%

Promotions

0%

1%

11%

Shopping

2%

2%

6%

Sports

13%

6%

6%

Tech

8%

14%

8%

Travel

4%

5%

1%

TV

13%

10%

12%

Video

3%

4%

2%

Source: Fizziology, June 2014

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