With more than one billion active users, Facebook, which began as a collegiate social community, is now the social network of choice for multi-generations with 43.6% of those surveyed using it as their social network of choice.
Collectively, a survey of millennials, gen-xers and baby boomers found Facebook to be 29% more popular than Instagram—the respondents’ nearest, cross-generational preference. Further, Facebook’s widespread popularity is nearly identical among Gen X (64.7%) and baby boomers (65.2%).
When it comes to millennials, however, trends point to Facebook's prowess, with this group overwhelmingly favoring Facebook (54%) over channels like YouTube.
While the Facebook generation is officially every generation, when it comes to a brand’s social strategy, millennials (58.9%), Gen Xers (50.4%) and baby boomers (55%) all tend to follow a brand on social media before purchasing a product.
Although each generation expresses interest on social during the same stage in the customer journey, they aren’t looking for the same experience. Millennials follow brands for entertainment value (38%) and information (42%), whereas Gen X is more likely to follow for contests (41%), deals and promotions (58%). Baby boomers fall somewhere in the middle and are looking for a healthy mix of deals and promotion (60%) and information (53%).
Expectations also vary when it comes to the frequency with which each generation interacts with the brands they follow. Twenty-nine percent of respondents across generations said they engage by liking, sharing or commenting on a brand’s’ social post on a monthly basis. However, on a monthly basis, 32% of Gen Xers engage with a brand they follow. That percentage drops slightly to 30% for millennials. When it comes to baby boomers, they’re mainly observers. Only 14% are regularly starting a dialogue or interaction with brands.
When it comes to interacting with brands, it’s no surprise that the youngest cohort cited social media as their preferred method of communication. Millennials are twice as likely as any other generation to turn to social, rather than phone or email, to communicate with a brand.
With each generation engaging with brands at a different cadence, it only makes sense that each group would unfollow a brand for a different reason. Gen Xers are nearly 160% more likely than the other generations to unfollow a brand that says something offensive or in opposition to their personal beliefs. Millennials unfollow because they had a bad experience (21%) or because they found a brand’s social marketing annoying (22%). Baby Boomers? Too much spam causes 29% to take direct action and opt out.