DATE: JULY 2019
CATEGORY:

GENERATIONS AND GENERALIZATIONS


John Martorana

I recently read a great article from Adweek that talks about the danger of making generalizations when it comes to different generations and social media usage.  The net-net is that everyone is different and lumping people into generational categories, while clearly perceived as a best practice, might not produce the best result.  I have written about the need for diversity of audiences before.  This article with accompanying statistics from AdWeek substantiates that treating everyone in a particular generation the same will have the opposite effect of driving personalization with your audience. And personalization is what consumers are seeking in every engagement and experience they are having with successful brands. 

Generalizations should be just that — generalizations.  Today’s marketing gives us the ability to surgically target audiences, know consumers and speak to them accordingly.   We have the tools at our disposal to do this.  One-size-fits-all thinking will not result in bringing you the diversity of audience you are seeking.  Marketers have the ability to segment messages along with channels to communicate one-on-one with their audiences. Consumers want this level of personalization in their products; why not in their messaging?  

Back to the social channels: they have built their platforms on segmentation and have been ingenious in capturing that data and feeding it back to consumers.   Pinterest and Instagram are two of the best examples of this.  Everything about these platforms is built around the U in “consumer.” Everyone —Gen Z, Millennial or Baby Boomer —wants to feel special. This is not a generational emotional driver; it is a universal human driver and something never to be forgotten by any successful marketer.

Do you make generalizations about social media usage among generational categories?
While it might be perceived as a best practice among marketers, it’s dangerous and likely to have the opposite effect of driving connection with your audience. And personalized connection is what consumers are seeking in every engagement and experience they are having with their brands.

As the AdWeek infographic illustrates, there are dramatic differences in social media usage even within a particular generation. One-size-fits-all thinking will not only result in you missing a large part of your potential audience, it can cause the ones you reach to decide, “This brand doesn’t get me.”

Generalizations are a helpful starting point, but today’s marketing tools enable us to truly know consumers, surgically target audiences by channel, and segment messages to communicate one-on-one. Consumers want this level of personalization in their products; why not in their messaging?  

Social channels have built their platforms on capturing data and leveraging it to give consumers what they want. Everything about Pinterest and Instagram, for example, is built around the U in “consumer,” shaping an online experience unique to each participant. This is not a generational emotional driver; it is a universal human driver and something never to be forgotten by any successful marketer.

Infographic from Adweek, May 13, 2019