April 20th, 2016
While marketers often use terms like “social media” and “millennials” as though every millennial uses every social media channel in the same way, millennial social media use is as varied as millennials themselves.
Reaching a 30-year-old married man living in rural Iowa and working in accounting on social media is different from reaching a 21-year-old woman in the last year of her anthropology degree at NYU. Where you can reach millennials on social media depends on the age, gender, and behavior of the millennials your brand wants to engage.
If you are marketing to millennials, here’s what you need to know about their social media use and how it differs.
Different genders use different social networks, and your social media plan needs to reflect this. Take sportswear as an example – if you sell women’s sportswear, you may need to be on different channels than if you sell men’s sportswear.
According to a study, millennial women are less likely to be on Snapchat and Twitter, while millennial men are more likely to opt out of Facebook and Pinterest. Instagram, meanwhile, has more than 75% more active female users than Twitter. Marketing women’s yoga pants on Instagram will get you farther than using Twitter.
Further, men and women have different concerns about social media. Women are more likely to worry that people they don’t know well will learn too much about their lives, potentially leading to stalking or threatening, while men are more likely to be concerned about the government collecting information on them.
Are you trying to reach millennial women or men? Your answer affects which social media channels you should be spending your time and energy on, and what and how you handle the privacy of their personal information.
Millennials older than 30 use social media much differently from those under 25. Generally, younger millennials use social media more frequently and are on a wider variety of networks.
In particular, Instagram and Snapchat usage varies by age. While 20- to 25-year-olds use these platforms a lot, 26- to 35-year-olds are much less likely to use them.
This is in part because there are different motivations for using social media. Facebook is one example: older millennials use Facebook for social interaction with their friends, while younger millennials more often use Facebook to find interesting articles, or to get news and information.
It makes sense that younger and older millennials use social media differently. A 35-year-old is at a very different life stage than the average 20-year-old. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can use one social media channel to reach both of them.
Social media is important for millennials who consume news. Nearly 90% of millennials get news from Facebook at least occasionally. More than 80% get news from YouTube, and 50% get news from Instagram.
What really stands out, though, is that millennials who describe themselves as actively seeking news and information are more likely to use certain social networks, such as Reddit and YouTube.
Meanwhile, the common motivation for visiting Facebook, say millennials, are to see what their friends are talking about and what is happening in their friends’ lives.
The channels your brand should use to reach its audience depends on who that audience is. Young investors looking for information about the stock exchange are not the same as new parents wanting to share photos of their baby. Find out which social media channels your audience uses.
While the perception is that all millennials wield selfie sticks and are Insta-obsessed, almost a third of millennials use Facebook less than once a week, if at all, and more than 10% don’t even have an account.
Similarly, only 33% of millennials actively uses their Twitter account, and 33% have never had a Twitter account.
This means there are some millennials you are unlikely to ever reach on social media. For these millennials, good old-fashioned email marketing and other strategies are more likely to be successful.
But for those millennials you can reach on social media, consider how their gender, age, and behavior influence what channels they use, and how they use them. It will make your social media efforts more successful and make sure you’re marketing your yoga pants in a way that will get them the attention you want.
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