When marketing to different generations on social media, it’s important to understand where and how to reach them. Explore the differences in how Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers use social media to more effectively engage them.

Social media is an integral part of our lives, and shapes how we communicate and connect with each other. Nevertheless, the impact of social media differs across generations, with each generation embracing and utilizing social media platforms in distinctive ways.

Understanding how different generations use social media, is related to first fostering meaningful relationships with that target audience — no matter the generation, or social platform they prefer. By diving further into the characteristics and social media behaviors of each generation, we can discover valuable insights to create connections and build deeper relationships.

Who’s Using Social Media?

How often do you scroll through your Facebook feed, watch TikTok videos, or browse new connections on LinkedIn? Currently, there are 3.8 billion active social media users in the world and according to DemandSage, the average user is on 6.6 social platforms. In the United States alone, people check their mobile device 159 times a day. No matter the age, everyone is liking, loving, watching, reacting to their social channels of choice each day. So let’s break down how four generations of audiences consume and engage with social media.

How Does Each Generation Use Social Media?

Generation Z

Generation Z exhibits social media habits that reflect their intimate familiarity with technology. While Gen Z uses multiple social media platforms, they tend to choose their favorites. On average, Gen Z explores 2 to 3 platforms daily, with Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok at the top of their leaderboard.

As you would expect, Gen Z prefers shorter video forms such as TikTok, Instagram TV, and Instagram stories. 76% of Gen Z say social media empowers them to interact with brands and companies, and 78% report using social media to connect with larger brands.


A notable 79% of Millennials engage with social media multiple times daily. Instead of sticking to just one platform, Millennials divide their time across several platforms. Millennials have elevated customer service expectations; however, they can be generous when acknowledging a job well done. In fact, 42% of Millennials express their affection for a product or service on social media, the most out of any generation.

Generation X

Studies show that Gen X is characterized as the most loyal consumers, often demonstrating a willingness to pay extra for products and services they trust.

On a weekly basis, Gen X engages with 5-6 social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter (now X), and Pinterest, with 90% of Gen X using Facebook at least once a week. 23% of online shoppers belong to Gen X, and 37% of Gen X consumers use social media for customer service solutions, making it a key channel they turn to when an issue needs to be resolved.

Baby Boomers

A staggering 82% of Baby Boomers are active users on at least one social media platform. Surprisingly, most of the new members on Facebook belong to the Baby Boomer generation. Baby Boomers mainly use social media to remain connected to friends and family. After initially being introduced to a brand on social media, a remarkable 58% of Baby Boomers will continue to engage with the brand further on their website.

What Do Different Generations Expect Out of Social Media?

Generation Z

Gen Z consumers seek transparency and personalized customer service from brands on social media, and come to expect a more tailored brand experience.

Gen Z also demands that companies understand them more intimately through their social activity, and expect brands to read and analyze their posts. Gen Z gravitates towards authentic and honest brands, whose values reflect their own. Brands and marketers who are vocal about their causes, missions, and values and who show responsive customer service will win over Gen Z.


Millennials prioritize authenticity and rely on their mobile devices for social media content. They also place a generous amount of trust on user-generated content, finding it 50% more trustworthy and 35% more memorable than branded imagery. Although 43% of Millennials prefer brands and marketers to reach them through email, it is obvious that establishing genuine relationships and utilizing user-generated content is essential to capture the attention of this generation.

Generation X

Gen X consumers desire tech-savvy, well-researched products that are visible online through successful SEO, reviews, and social media presence. They value trust, convenience, and affordability, as well as clear, concise, and compelling brand content. Familiarity with social media platforms plays a key role in their retention. Gen X values independence and prefers making their own assessments of products and services.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers spend a significant amount of time online, 11 hours on average before making a purchase, which indicates the relevance of digital platforms in their purchasing decisions. In particular, social media influences their research process, even though Baby Boomers tend to depend on trusted sources.

As a result, interactions mainly occur within online echo-chambers. Although Baby Boomers are less likely to join new social media platforms, they are open to interacting with businesses on platforms they already use and trust. Notably, they expect exceptional customer service in every step of their online purchasing journey.

How to Use Social Media for Marketing to Different Generations

Generation Z

Gen Z is visually-oriented, preferring photos and videos over written content. Privacy is also a crucial aspect, as they do not want to be monitored. They are always looking to be inspired, and turn to the guidance of social media influencers.

Social justice causes hold high regard to Gen Z. Many Gen Zers are passionate about issues such as climate change, sustainability, and mental health awareness. To attract Gen Z, marketers should leverage platforms such as TikTok and Instagram with content that is creative and engaging. Marketers need to show true brand personality and purpose, while keeping content short and interactive.


To connect with Millennials, marketers need to engage in a mix of both visual and textual content. Millennials value opinions and recommendations, and are likely to share content they find appealing within their social circle. Tailor your content to their needs while also showcasing your brand values by using testimonials and reviews to your advantage.

Tap into Millennials’ love for incentives by offering coupon codes, limited-time discounts, and rewards. Millennials long for the past so nostalgia marketing has become crucial. Evoke positive emotions and memories by using familiar concepts, as well as songs, symbols, and aesthetics that harken back to their childhoods.

Generation X

Engaging with Generation X, marketers need to create informative and persuasive content that highlights your brand’s features. By offering discounts, incentives, and guarantees while also being transparent about your business practices, you are building loyalty and establishing social proof amongst Gen X. Similar to Millennials, nostalgia marketing resonates with Gen X as well. For that reason, incorporating ideas and concepts from their childhoods in your marketing efforts will be highly beneficial.

Baby Boomers

In the hope of engaging Baby Boomers with social media, be sure to create informative and inclusive content that highlights brand credibility and offers clear instructions and support, such as avoiding slang words like “old” and “elderly”. Focus on leveraging Facebook, and include video captions as Baby Boomers may need additional context in a marketing video.

Given their preference for in-person shopping, you can use social media to give timely store updates, discount information, and pictures of new products to motivate Baby Boomers to visit a physical store.

A Successful Social Strategy Takes Social Media Use by Generation into Consideration

Regardless of generational audience, social media marketers know their goal is engagement. Successful social content needs to maintain consistency, relevance, and connect to the hearts and mindset of its audience. You’ll win in social media by posting similar types of content on several platforms thus reaching the most people possible. The insightful social experts at Responsory are ready to support you and your marketing goals. Contact us to take your social strategy to new heights–ensuring you make the biggest impact with your target audience, no matter the generation

About the Author

In her summer internship at Responsory, Sydney Marsh has helped develop content to engage our social media audience, and helped support the account team. Sydney is currently in her second year at the University of Iowa, where she is double majoring in Marketing and Sport & Recreation Management. In high school, she participated in DECA and had the opportunity to apply her knowledge by organizing marketing nights. She is an active member of the Delta Gamma sorority and is committed to enhancing her knowledge and skills in the field as she continues her academic journey.