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How Different Generations Use Social Media

Insights on how Millennials, Gen X and Boomers interact with different social media platforms can help you tailor your message to a particular audience.

Katie Caron
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Any marketing expert will tell you that one of the first steps to devising an effective digital marketing strategy is knowing your target audience. By honing in on your ideal customer persona, you can better tailor your messaging to that audience. But once you have that target customer in mind, how do you effectively reach them, and what social media platforms are worth investing effort into? Read on for some insights on how Millennials, Gen X and Boomers interact with different social media platforms.


Digitally savvy and with growing spending power, the cohort between the ages of 26 to 40 number 73 million in the U.S. 

  • Millennials are less enthusiastic about Facebook: While 64.7 percent of Generation X and 65.2 percent of Baby Boomers ranked Facebook as their favorite social network in a Sprout Social survey, only 33 percent of Millennials did.
  • Instagram is the top social media platform among younger Millennials, and ranks second for the cohort overall.
  • According to a Sprout Social survey, Millennials say they follow brands for entertainment (38 percent) and information (42 percent).
  • Animoto found that 75 percent of Millennials’ purchase decisions were influenced by a brand’s social media presence.
  • According to Yahoo, 63 percent of Millennials would be inclined to check into a business on social channels if it meant they’d receive a coupon or discount.
  • Millennials are most likely to unfollow a business because of a bad experience (21 percent) or because they found a brand’s social marketing annoying (22 percent).

Gen X

Often an afterthought, the generation of 82 million people born between 1965-1979 (ages 41-55) outspends all other generations when it comes to housing-related purchases.

  • 95 percent of Gen X uses Facebook, and 64.7 percent of Generation X ranks it as their favorite social media platform.
  • 72 percent of the cohort uses the Internet to research businesses.
  • According to a Sprout Social survey, Gen X follows businesses on social media for contests (41 percent), and deals and promotions (58 percent).
  • 60 percent of Gen Xers prefer video when learning about a new brand or product.
  • Gen Xers are almost 160 percent more likely than other generations to unfollow a business if it says something that offends them or opposes their personal beliefs.

Baby Boomers

Boomers (ages 56 to 76) number 76 million in the U.S., with $1.6 trillion in buying power, and they are more tech savvy than many give them credit for.

  • 82.3 percent of Boomers belong to at least one social media site, according to DMN3.
  • Boomers spend most of their time on YouTube and Facebook.
  • Just 24.5 percent of Boomers follow brands on social media, compared to 48.6 percent of Millennials and 48.8 percent of Gen X.
  • According to a Sprout Social survey, Boomers want a mix of deals and promotions (60 percent) and information (53 percent) from businesses they follow.
  • 43 percent of the segment prefers to watch videos on Facebook.
  • Boomers are 19 percent more likely to share content on Facebook compared to other generations.
  • Boomers say they primarily unfollow brands because they are getting too much spam or seeing irrelevant posts.
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