It’s no secret that the growth and diversification of social media have had a huge impact on how brands interact with consumers. There are now a range of platforms to choose from, each with its own unique focus — whether that’s sharing short videos, pictures, a few lines of text, or uploading the route of your most recent bike ride.
This variety has, in turn, expanded the ways in which consumers can interact with the brands that have a presence on these channels. Ultimately, this all means there are now more opportunities than ever to connect with consumers, build communities, or improve customer experience.
But consumers are not a single homogenous group and different types of consumers have different preferences for how they like to use social media as a platform for interacting with brands, if at all.
In this article, we’re going to explore how these preferences differ based on factors such as age, level of education, and gender, taking findings from Latana’s 2022 report on digital communication trends.
First, let’s take a look at how age can influence consumers’ propensity to use social media as a tool for contacting and interacting with brands.
When it comes to communicating with brands, those aged 56-75 (a group that broadly corresponds to the Baby Boomer generation) are the cohort most likely to pick up the phone and give a brand’s customer support team a call rather than jumping onto a social media platform, with around one-third of those surveyed selecting this option.
But despite common myths about this generation, social media has still managed to make some inroads with them. While it’s the least preferred channel for contacting brands, a pretty sizeable number of consumers in this age cohort — just under 25% — would use a social media platform to reach out to a brand.
Stark differences can be observed when comparing these results with that of younger age cohorts, such as those aged between 18 – 25 (roughly corresponding to Gen Z) and those aged 26 – 45 (corresponding to Millennials).
For 18-25-year-olds, 46% preferred to contact brands by using social media, while 44% of 26 – 45-year-olds surveyed chose this option.
These findings support the widely-held belief that social media is a tool that has broader functions for younger audiences — acting as a sales and marketing tool as well as a hub for customer support. But brands should take note that just under a quarter of those aged 56 and above also prioritize this channel, meaning there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with baby boomers over social media.
But what types of content do consumers want to find on brands’ social media pages? In our survey, we asked which content types had a positive impact on consumers’ perception of a brand.
While all groups favored offers and promotions the most, there was a real gap in the value placed on jokes, memes, and social commentary — 39% of those aged 18 – 25 felt this type of content positively impacted their perception of a brand compared to just 16% of those aged 45 and above.
Unsurprisingly, those aged 56 and above were the age-cohort that was most likely to not place any value whatsoever on any of the content types presented to them — reflecting the much larger portion within this demographic that did not see this platform as a channel for connecting and communicating with brands.
For consumers who self-identified as having a high level of education, only 24% valued this type of content against 33% of consumers who self-identified as having a low level of education.
Males and females held broadly the same opinions and placed similar levels of value on different content types, with the biggest divergence coming from the perceived impact of offers and promotions — with 74% of females valuing it against 66% of males.
These findings indicate that using social media or “having a social media preference” is not a silver bullet, one-size-fits-all solution, but instead something that has to be tailored to the brand in question and the preferences of its target audiences.
Everything from the types of content that you share to the way you use social media platforms as a channel through which you can answer queries or solve customers’ problems needs to be designed with your target audience in mind.
Latana helps brands make better marketing decisions by delivering world-class, scalable insights. Check out Latana’s Brand Tracking Tools.