Katie Gilsenan an analyst with GlobalWebIndex writes, Do you have a personal brand? Even if you haven’t made a conscious effort to do so, you developed your brand the moment you stepped online. Before social media became as ubiquitous as it is today, an individual’s “brand” was largely built around what they were like in person, how they dressed, spoke and behaved. Today, it is easier than ever to shape a personal brand and carve your digital footprint.
To help us understand what personal branding means to different generations, Gilsenan says “we looked at attitudes, interests and behaviors of Gen X(aged 36-54),Millennials(aged 22-35), and Gen Z (aged 16-21).
Gen Xers are often thought to be behind the digital curve compared to their younger counterparts. The research reveals something different. In fact, this group stays clued into changing digital trendsand is more likely to get online via their smartphone than a PC/laptop.
They use social media most to keep-up-to-date with the news (38%) and search for products to buy (28%).They also share fewer photos/videos on social media and follow news organizations more than Gen Zers or Millennials.
Falling into the Professional Networkers, 30% follow contacts relevant to their work, clearly reflecting what life stage they’re at and the role that social media plays in their professional life. Gen Xers’ online persona is more profession-driven and pragmatic than other generations. Smartphone ownership is at 95% or more, regardless of age, and more than 4 in 5 Gen Xers use the internet as the first point of call for information.
Gen X consumers are in their prime spending years, earning more than their younger counterparts. They’re also more likely to be brand loyal than Gen Zers.
3 in 5 Gen Xers agree that once they find a brand they like, they’ll stick with it.
Reflecting this, Gen Xers are less inclined to try new products and are more risk averse, they like to stick with what they know.
More Millennials say they don’t understand computers or new technology than Gen X’s. 34% feel that technology makes their lives more complicated. There’s an internal conflict here for Millennials: while they say technology complicates their lives, 66% are constantly connected, says the report.
What’s more, 57% feel more insecure without their mobile phone than their wallet. This might be a result of the fact that Millennials grew up during a period of rapid technological, economic and societal change, so they’re the generation that created social media, but they also struggle between their desire to be constantly connected and their concerns over the impact technology has on their lives.
Millennials’ interests are also reflected in how they present themselves online. For example, younger generations are more likely to be concerned with how they look online, and use social media to showcase their unique personalities, meticulously curating their personal brand to reflect how they want to be perceived by others. Their experiences are carefully styled, recorded and shared on social media.
Over 98% of all generations access social media from any device every month. Unsurprisingly, as the first generation who grew up as digital natives, Gen Zers spend the most time here, averaging 2 hours 48 minutes on social media on a typical day.
However, Millennials and Gen Xers closely follow, at 2 hours 35 minutes and 2 hours 10 minutes respectively.The most popular platform for active engagement in the past month is Facebook for Gen Xers and Millennials, while YouTube takes the lead for Gen Zers.
Gen Z are more image-conscious and care about others’ opinions.More than 1 in 5 Gen Zers fall into the Image-Conscious attitudinal segmentation, making them over 10% more likely to fall into this segment than the average user. This reflects Gen Zers greater interest in subjects relating to their personal image, like fashion and style (34%) compared to other generations.
Millennials and Gen Xers are more interested in professional interests, such as politics, personal finance and investment, news and current affairs. Gen Z (42%) is also more swayed by other people’s opinions than Gen X( 31%). Both Millennials and Gen Zers care more about uniqueness and standing out in a crowd than Gen Xers.
For Gen Zers and Millennials, image plays a key role. 15% of both Millennials and Gen Zers say they would advocate a brand that enhances their online reputation.
17% of Millennials and 21% of Gen Zers also want brands to make them feel cool/trendy. For this reason, influencer marketing and celebrity endorsements remain significant opportunities. Both appearance and entertainment matters to these cohorts and dictates much of what they do online, so it’s up to brands to leverage this to their advantage.
And, online behavior is largely determined by life stage. Across generations, these consumers all care about how they “look”, but what that “look” is depends on where they are in the life stage. For example, younger generations are more interested in what makes them cool/trendy while older generations are more practical and family-oriented, not relying so much on social media prestige.
Gen Zers are also selective about who they share with online by actively engaging with Snapchat and Instagram more than Millennials. Over 55% of Gen Zers and Millennials fall into the Content Networkers segmentation, including those using social media for entertaining content, to consume sports content, or following bloggers.
45% of Gen Z and 42% of Millennials use social media to find funny or entertaining content. This is compared to 29% of Gen Xers, who are also 20% more likely to advocate a brand if they get access to exclusive content or services. They’re also more interested in ‘viral’ celebrity culture than other generations and are more likely to follow actors, singers and musicians, bloggers and comedians.
Over 37% of Gen Z say they would by a product/service simply for the experience of being part of the community built around it.
Summarizing, targeting any generation, says the report, it’s important that brands communicate in an authentic and transparent way. Marketers who can earn the trust of their consumers, understand their needs and values, and fit in with their lifestyles and the image they aspire to will reap the rewards, concludes the paper written by Katie Gilsenan.