Social media is everywhere. From the news sources we have on our apps, to the way we make new friends, to the way we contact customer support at sports betting sites. We are so used to social media being such an integral part of the way we live our lives, we probably don’t realize just how pervasive it is.
The technology used to power social media platforms is advancing all the time and that can leave some people behind. Is that why particular groups and generations use certain social media platforms? Or is there a wide range of reasons why some people gravitate towards Facebook and Twitter, and others to Snapchat and TikTok?
If you are involved in new and emerging social media sites, apps and platforms, what kinds of strategies should be used to target the audience you want?
Everyone Uses Social Media
The first thing to consider when developing a new social media platform, or researching the use of such apps, is that almost everyone uses it in some way or another. But there is a tendency to report on social media as something that is a younger generation’s thing.
This may say something about the age of the people reporting, but we have to remember that social media itself has been around for a while now. People who were drawn in by the connectedness of MySpace in the 2000s will be in their 40s and 50s now. Other platforms have actively targeted older generations to help make it the phenomenon we know today.
As we can agree that even your mom and dad use the internet and have profiles on social media, let’s start with what is referred to as baby boomers. This is a historically overlooked group of social media users but it is actually a generation that is more positive about what using it does for their lives.
Facebook is the social media of choice for this age group and although they are more tech-savvy than they are usually given credit for, there is little appetite to discover new apps. Much has been written and said about how elections have been won and lost targeting baby boomers on Facebook, but targeting these people has to be done in what seems to be a non-invasive way.
For our next age group, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. Zoomers can be as young as 10 and have known nothing but social media as part of everyday life. But that does not mean that they necessarily trust it any more than older generations. In fact, much of the research shows that Gen Z is much more discerning than baby boomers.
The trust is found, not so much in the social media platforms themselves, but in other people on the apps. When a person, or influencer, is regarded as trustworthy, they will be believed more than mainstream media. Social media really is just media for this generation. Traditional media doesn’t get a look in and TikTok and Snapchat rule. Gaining trust may be more difficult, but honest activity and partnerships with influencers are key.
Generation X was the last generation to really know a time before the internet and online. That is why there has been interest in a number of different social media platforms over the years. This is an age range that thinks it knows about tech but can sometimes be dismissive of younger generations as they have seen it all before.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all popular with this age group but it is one that doesn’t have as much loyalty to a particular app and will go where it believes the most authenticity is. With advertisers concentrating on younger and older users, Gen X can be overlooked. But there is an advantage in targeting a platform to this generation’s specific needs in an honest manner.
Figure 2 Understanding what a millennial actually is would be a start
Has there ever been a generation so universally derided as Millennials before? Supposedly the cause of a multitude of society’s ills, the age range that a lot of this generation’s critics believe to be Millennial can be wildly incorrect. A lot of the hatred seems to come from a dislike of the young, even though the oldest Millennials can be over 40 now.
Millennials seem to be the first generation that realized the potential for reinventing themselves – or, at the very least, creating an alternative persona online. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all very popular, but used in a different way than by Gen X-ers. A social media platform that appeals to Millennials should avoid the assumption that these are young kids and take into consideration what 30 to 40-year-olds are actually interested in.
How Social Media Platforms Age
It is a broadly accepted theory that newer social media platforms will resonate and become more popular with the youngest generation. Older generations will keep with the platform, or platforms, which launched when they were younger and only a small percentage will consistently investigate the newer products.
Capturing the Next Generation
If you are involved in developing new social media platforms, there would seem to be a good chance that you should target as young an audience as possible. But there has to be a consideration of the familiarity of social media in general as well. Targeting individual generations in different ways may be the way to go.
As far as capturing the next generation, as in the one after Gen Z, a quicker, simpler, and more instant experience could be profitable. That is what the history of social media platforms suggests, anyway.
Advances in Tech
Technology has always driven the evolution of social media and social networking sites. But the arrival of mobile apps really changed the game. Any development of future platforms will use the app at its core. But there are newer tech developments that could play a part too.
Augmented reality is already popular on Snapchat. But there is a broader potential for AR for the business side of apps too. RFID tags can offer an even more personalized service within a social media platform, while AI is definitely the most talked about technology poised to have a big effect on how we live online. Anyone looking to develop the next big thing will obviously have to include tech advances in their planning and strategy.