Image by Erica Breetoe under CC BY 2.0

How to Engage Any Demographic With a Social Media Campaign

Social media campaign is about as broad a term as you’ll find in marketing. It has been used to describe social initiatives of every size, from the biggest agency-driven cross-platform campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty, to the smallest independent newsletter form-fill.

This is a good thing. Social media campaigns work for every business, and no one should feel concerned about dedicating time and resources into running one. Social media campaigns are also for every customer. They can help you reach your target audience no matter their age, gender, or any other qualifier. Different demographics tend to live on different networks, and different campaigns will help you engage with each segment of your fanbase.

Here’s how to engage any demographic with a social media campaign.

Generation Z (approx. 13-19)

Image by Glasseyes View under CC BY 2.0
Image by Glasseyes View under CC BY 2.0

No one uses social media quite like Generation Z. They use Facebook less than their seniors and Twitter less than their juniors. For fun, they use private social networks like Snapchat and Whisper, and while Hootsuite Campaigns doesn’t have campaigns there (yet), you can reach Generation Z by involving their favorite visual social networks, like Instagram and Vine.

Slightly more girls use Instagram than boys, but that tends to be true of social media in general. Sixty-four percent of girls aged 15-17 use Instagram, and 56 percent of 13-14 year-old girls do as well. Fifty-one percent of 15-17 year old boys use it, as do 33 percent of 13 and 14 year-old boys, according to the Pew Research Group.

Vine is a secretive social network. Twitter’s been notoriously stingy with demographic data, but what we do know is that it is exceptionally popular with Generation Z. Twenty-four percent of American teens use Vine, with 27 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys on the platform. Vine’s earned itself a masculine reputation because the vast majority of the most popular Viners are men. Male Viners’ popularity might in part be explained by the relative dominance of teen girls on the platform.

Lead generation campaigns won’t get you very far with Generation Z.  Only 33 percent of Generation Z would like brands to reach out to them by email. User-generated content (UGC) campaigns make better use of this demographic’s talents, which is what makes Instagram and Vine a perfect fit. Create campaigns that prompt this demographic to create content for a chance to win a prize or reap a reward. Then, watch the content roll in.

Millennials (approx. 20-35)

Image by Elizabeth Hahn under CC BY 2.0
Image by Elizabeth Hahn under CC BY 2.0

Ah, the Snake People. Millennials, perhaps the generation that’s inspired more handwringing than any other, are the elder of the two digital native generations. There are some key differences between them and Generation Z that you should take into account. For one, they’re more amenable to email marketing, by a full 10 percent. This makes them a natural fit for the lead generation campaigns that you wouldn’t run with Generation Z. They’re also a lot less negative about using Facebook. Maybe because they’re good at it. Millennials have a higher median number of Facebook friends than any other demographic: 250 as opposed to Gen X’s 200. It’s easy to have more friends when you have so many people in your age group with you on the network: 87 percent of Millennials use Facebook, with usage steady regardless of where these Millennials live. According to Pew, they are the largest group on every social network. Millennials use social media more than any other generation which means you have more flexibility running social media campaigns for them than with any other group of people.

To tailor your campaigns to meet their needs, you’ll have to be discerning in your promotion. In a recent study that compares Millennials’ usage of Facebook and Twitter, the only way in which they use Twitter more than Facebook is “to see what’s trending and what people are talking about on social media” (43 percent on Twitter, 34 percent on Facebook). It stands to reason that for most social media activities, Millennials would prefer to use the network that they use more often anyway. But if Millennials like to use Twitter to find out what’s cool on social, promoting your campaigns there is probably a good idea.

Millennials are also the most likely demographic to shop online. On average, Millennials spend around $2,000 online each year. They also have a deep kinship for user-generated content. In their eyes, it’s 50 percent more trustworthy and 35 percent more memorable than branded imagery. This makes them the best demographic to target with a social commerce experience. Once you’ve run a UGC campaign to collect fan-created photos or videos, connect the photos to product pages on your online store, and let them make the impulse buys that they have the freedom to make.

Generation X (approx. 36-49)

Image by Thomas Leth-Olsen under CC BY 2.0
Image by Thomas Leth-Olsen under CC BY 2.0

If the Millennials are known for their idealism, Generation X is… not. Everyone who ever wagged a chin at Millennials’ “entitlement” got their chins nice and warm by fretting over whether the 90’s slackers would ever make something of themselves. Spoiler alert? They did.

This is the least-discussed generation. One reason is because there are less of them than there are Boomers or Millennials, by a good 12 or 17 million on each respective side. They’ve felt the cultural neglect: back in 2010, Pew Research asked all the adult generations, Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, if they thought their generation was unique. Around 60 percent of both Boomers and Millennials said yes. Half of Gen X did, and when pressed for why responded that they did not agree on a cohesive generational identity. This could mean they’re less self-involved than either of the age groups they’re sandwiched between. But what it should mean to you is that generalizations aren’t going to work. They don’t use them, and neither should you.

Like Millennials, Generation X loves Facebook. Unlike Millennials, they’re far less interested in any other social network. Forty-eight percent of Generation X is on Twitter, but less than half of them call themselves active users. This group is even less interested in Instagram (19 percent, with 8 percent actively using). Despite this, Generation X is overrepresented in the online shopper population (23 percent of online shoppers while only being 18 percent of the US population), meaning that the social commerce widget built from Millennial-produced content will win Generation X’s dollars too.

There’s another social network that Generation X loves, and that’s Pinterest. According to Ahalogy’s 2015 Pinterest Media Consumption Study, 36 percent of Pinners and 44 percent of daily Pinners are between 30 and 44. It’s not just for women, either: Pinterest has been courting men aggressively, and with great success. Approximately two-thirds of male Pinners joined in the last year, and 20 percent of male Pinterest users joined specifically to follow or get information on a brand they love.

In short, if you want to succeed with a social media campaign for Generation X? Facebook and Pinterest are your best bets.

Boomers (approx. 50-65)

At last, we come to the Boomers. After years of frustration trying to teach them how to use their computers and smartphones, Baby Boomers have at least learned how to use social media. They use it the least out of any generation, but they have access to 70 percent of the nation’s disposable income.  Like most other generations, they belong to Facebook in droves. Eighty-four percent of them have Facebook accounts and, like Generation X, they enjoy Pinterest (40.8 percent boast membership). Don’t even bother with Instagram. The only network they like less is MySpace (zing).

Mobile campaigning should not be a priority when you’re targeting Boomers. Only 54 percent of older adults own a smartphone (compared to 85 percent and 79 percent for Millennials and Generation X). This means that pretty much any other generation is going to give you more participants if you choose to run a hashtag campaign.

Boomers are more likely than other demographics to visit a company’s website after encountering the brand on social media, with 58 percent of them willing to do so. Include a link to your website once they’ve entered your campaign on Facebook, since they want to go there anyway.

As the generation with the best voting habits (38 percent in the last US federal election as opposed to 27 percent and 19 percent for Gen X and Millennials), why not build engagement with this audience through a Poll or a Voting Gallery? They know they have a voice, and they enjoy feeling as though they’re making an impact.

Each demographic has its own profile on social media; get to know your audience inside and out before you decide on your next social marketing campaign. Whether you’re running to attract a new demographic or establish yourself more firmly with your existing audience, knowing how your fans behave can only make your campaigns more effective.

Learn more about how social marketing campaigns can attract your chosen demographic.