Reaching Generations Online
Is your grandma on TikTok? She just might be.
In 2020, every single generation has a robust online presence. These days, every generation can be reached by digital means and should be considered a potential lead for your organization.
In 2020, every single generation has a robust online presence.
- 95% Gen Z (those born 1995-2012)
- 93% of Millennials (those born 1980-1994)
- 90% Gen X (those born 1965-1979)
- 68% Boomers (those born 1946-1964)
A Nov. 19, 2019 “Marketing Profs” article by Ayaz Nanji cited The Manifest 2019 Consumer Social Media Survey which reported that more than 80% of respondents in every generation say they use social media at least once per day.
The verdict is in: Every generation has the tools necessary to get online and they are, in fact, online.
Whether you’re familiar with traditional marketing methods or you utilize the new marketing funnel, connection points for each generation will vary.
Let’s explore the biggest trends in digital marketing to see how and where we can reach each generation.
1. Become a peer to your potential client.
A decade ago, the bulk of your digital marketing strategy would have included purchasing ads on select sites. While this is still a useful strategy to reach the older generations, it needs to change for the younger groups. Gen-Zers and Millennials are prolific ad-blockers, as reported in the data from Kantar MillwardBrown’s "AdReaction: Gen X, Y and Z" study.
How can you reach your leads online? Develop a strategy that includes determining where they spend their time and position your brand as a peer on those platforms.
Here are some online hotspots:
- Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are virtual town squares for the majority of Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X, with Instagram ranking most popular with youth ages 18-24, according to a Feb. 4, 2020 Hootsuite blog by Tony Tran.
- The mobile-central platform TikTok is taking the social media world by storm. As reported May 12, 2020 by Brandon Doyle at Wallaroo, TikTok’s active monthly users are reaching 800 million, ranking ahead of other sites like Twitter and Snapchat.
- YouTube is another power player, reporting approximately 2 billion logged-in monthly users.
Whether you create an account on Facebook, TikTok, YouTube or Instagram, cultivate your online persona so you can connect naturally and gain followers with your audience, particularly the youth generation.
For great examples of this on TikTok, check out @grantfwilkinson, @marketingdudes and @washingtonpost. Some are using trending music as the background to their videos. Others are using memes to humanize their persona. Plus, the stories they create there are also useful for Instagram and Facebook stories.
2. Have fun on social media platforms.
Here are two ideas for connecting with all generations through social media:
- Invite conversation on your channels. Ask fun “would you rather” questions or invite followers to share a funny image from their photos. Continue the conversation by replying to comments or tagging followers whose answers you’d like to hear.
- “Hangout” with “AMA’s” or “Lives.” Since the worldwide social distancing time period, users of every age have become proficient users of video conference platforms. Invite your Instagram followers to “ask me anything” (typically referred to as an AMA). Go live on Facebook and Instagram for “30 minutes of free coaching.” Invite an influencer in your market to hang out for a live interview, or have some fun and play a game of trivia. There is so much you can do!
3. Use live stream video to increase connection.
Audiences are drawn to live video.
Audiences are drawn to live video. According to a survey conducted by Vimeo, audiences prefer live video from a brand over their social posts. The “Why a Live Streaming Strategy is a Must-Have for Marketing [2020 Update]” Blog by Vimeo explains: “A live video strategy engages viewers in immediate and authentic ways that other social media formats cannot.”
Live streaming gives your organization the perfect opportunity to pull back the curtain and show your followers the faces and people behind your brand. This authenticity puts your brand on another level says James T. Noble on neilpatel.com in “Truth Will Out – Authenticity is the Key to Growing Your Business.”
Whether you’ve never live-streamed or it’s part of your strategy, it’s time to embrace the medium. Your social media channels have the capability of live streaming, or you can set up your own channel on a platform like YouTube TV, Periscope or Roku.
4. If you’re trying to be social, remember to email.
Email campaigns are still the strongest way to connect with your audience. A Digital Agency Network blog by Miriam Reis entitled “Is Email Marketing Still An Effective Strategy In 2020” says “email marketing is up to 40 times more effective than social media, according to a study done by McKinsey & Company.”
Members of your audience want to hear different things. Gen Xers and Boomers want to hear your perspective and expertise; whereas Gen Zers want to “feel the feels.” If your target demographic includes many age groups, your messaging must hit on all points.
For example, bring all the feels and nurture your contacts by offering a resource at no cost (like a tutorial, checklist or behind-the-scenes reveal), highlighting something they would have paid for, or sharing sincere messages from your team. Show off your expertise and earned authority by providing links to helpful articles or by writing blogs and creating videos designed to give something of value to those in your ideal audience.
For any of your audiences, be sure to work a few emails into your nurturing sequence that are relationship builders. Ask “what is your biggest challenge right now?” Inviting them to respond is one example of these relationship-building emails. Approach your email marketing as you would coffee with a friend — don’t talk only about yourself.
5. On every platform, pay attention to your image.
Though Gen Xers and Boomers are used to reading informative and slightly formal writing styles, the younger demographics are drawn to an online voice that’s welcoming and conversational.
Like it or not, Gen Zers and Millennials are not overthinking their grammar and diction. In fact, they see formal use of language as insincere and overzealous. Lean on the side of “business casual” instead. The appeal of personal, story-based writing is universal, and the shift will be more difficult for your copywriter than your readers. The value of “business casual” is worth the internal learning curve.
Every demographic appreciates beautiful art.
Every demographic appreciates beautiful art. Brighten up your content with interesting, bold eye-catching images. Here’s how to make it pop online:
- When it comes to photos, make sure the quality is impeccable. If you’re specifically targeting the Gen Xers and Boomers, stop there.
- For the younger two generations, personalize art photos with stickers, effects, filters and captions. These touches make your content less formal and more original, which is key for appealing to Millennials and Gen Zers.
- Get creative by adding personal and ethnic elements to your creations, and for photography, be sure to get creative with filters and focus.
Take a peek at @BibleTLD on Instagram for an example of a relatively new account, publishing original content that is welcoming and conversational but also eye-catching with its images.
The point of good artwork is to “stop the scroll.” Your image or headline should be so captivating that the person mindlessly scrolling will instantly pause, stop scrolling and take notice. And a captive audience is something every brand needs.
6. Exude authenticity online.
Sometimes it takes organizations a while to figure this out. It’s tempting to look at a competitor or influencer’s high follower count and try to emulate what they are doing. But it might not be right for you. Trust me when I say your followers will pick up on anything that isn’t authentic.
This is especially true of Gen Zers and Millennials. Jessica Klodnicki, the Chief Marketing Officer of Skullcandy, said this recently: “In a new decade and during an election year, I believe our Gen Z consumers are going to crave even greater transparency, authenticity and social consciousness out of their brands of choice.”
As you curate your posts and plan your content, focus on material that can emphasize transparency — like behind-the-scenes posts or short, personal anecdotes. Don’t flood your feed with cookie-cutter content. Create content that exudes the personality of your brand. In a June 25, 2019 Campaign Monitor blog, “The Importance of Content, Authenticity, and Credibility,"Jason Dent said users won’t “settle for cookie-cutter content,” but want original, sincere interactions.
For faith-based organizations, consider focusing some of your messaging on the actual faith component by which your organization is differentiated. They aren’t scared of faith and religion. But you need to be authentic and clear, and don’t try to co-opt faith to push your agenda.
One potential strategy is to create a microsite that shares content or resources that your internal teams are driven by for transparency, much like an annual report shares intent and vision, and even progress and results. Using a .BIBLE domain for that microsite publishing strategy adds to the clarity that many will appreciate it. It doesn’t hinder any core messaging your organization might be driving on your main site, but at the same time illustrates an image with focus and clarity regarding how you’re standing in front of your stakeholders.
When you take advantage of the variety of mediums available to you and your audience, you’re more likely to make connections that stick and turn your leads into clients. Varying platforms will widen your reach and provide different levels of intimacy, from interactive social media posts to emails showing up in a contact’s inbox. All these tactics will raise brand awareness and connect people of every generation to you and your brand.
Kenny Jahng serves as the Marketing Strategist for the .BIBLE top-level domain initiative, which is helping to shape the future of the internet for Bible-inspired content. The .Bible top-level domain registry (www.get.bible) is a ministry of American Bible Society. Kenny earned his MBA from Columbia Business School and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. You can follow his vlog #DailyKJTV on LinkedIn or find him on social media @KennyJahng.