October 31, 2019

Baby Boomers More Wary of Social Media Than Younger Users

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc. 

In the world of social media strategy development, knowing your target audience long has been a chief marketing chore.

And across the generations, which may be the toughest audience to attract on social media, in terms of generations? That — perhaps not surprisingly — would be the oldest generation, the baby boomers, a newer report confirms.

Born between 1946 and 1964, boomers are wary about interacting with brands on social media because their generation is the most concerned about how personal data on social platforms might be used, the study said.

The “Voice of the Generations” report, from Adobe Advertising Cloud and social research firm Advanis, says that just 33 percent of U.S. baby boomers polled in July agreed that “there is a place for companies interacting with individual people on social networks, forums and/or messaging sites.”

However, that figure rose to 49% “agree” among the next oldest generation polled, Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1976), and then to 63% among millennials (1977–1995) and 69% among GenZers (1996–2001).

Boomers’ unease about digital privacy was further reflected when poll respondents were presented this statement: “I worry about how my data is used all the time.” Forty-three percent of the baby boomers agreed with that statement, the report found, compared to 14% of Gen Zers, 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Xers.

The report’s findings don’t mean marketers should focus less social media marketing strategy on baby boomers, though. Globally, the growth rate in social media is slowing down, but it is still growing, notes the World Economic Forum in yet another recent report.

The Forum in its study had this to say about baby boomers:

“Boomers currently rank last in nearly every category and metric when it comes to technology and social media use. This generation didn’t grow up inundated with technology in the way today’s youth are.

“However, Boomers are showing the greatest increase in activity on social media platforms. For example, usage of Instagram and WhatsApp is up 59% and 44% respectively for this group since 2016, which is more than double the global average.”

How much are social-media channels used among all generations across the world?

The Forum says “monthly active users” on the top five social media platforms, as of July 2019, were: Facebook: 2.4 billion; YouTube, 2 billion; WhatsApp, 1.6 billion; Instagram, 1 billion, and, Twitter, 330 million.

“Even more striking,” the Forum says, “is what happens in a social media minute.” Over that minute, it says: About 41.6 million messages are sent over Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp;

347,222 people scroll their Instagram accounts; 87,500 people post something to Twitter; and, 4.5 million videos are watched on YouTube, mostly by the younger generations.

“Social media is a broad, multi-faceted and complex industry that appeals to a wide range of cultures, age groups and personalities,” the WEC noted in in summarizing its generational findings.

“While growth in social media activity may be slowing down, a growing global population may mean we’ll see more opportunities to stay connected.”

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