How Different Generations Use Social Media

With the advent of the internet, the world has turned into a global village. Humans, who are essentially social beings, have created internet-based ways to stay connected at all times. These internet-based platforms that allow us to stay connected are referred to as social media.

More than two-thirds of all internet users around the world find themselves on social media. Due to this urge to stay connected, the past decade has seen a substantial rise in the number of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter among others.

Contrary to popular beliefs, these platforms attract not only the youth but also those of older generations. Roughly 3.8 billion people use social media. Although, the motives for adopting and using social media differ for different generations. While some wish to stay connected with old friends and family, others simply wish to have a platform to share their opinions.

Now, let us take a look at the different motives and habits of social media users. We will also examine how the personality and traits of individuals seemingly affect their social media habits.

Generation Z

Gen Z is a demographic cohort constituting people born between 1996 and 2015.

People belonging to this generation are digital natives – they’ve not seen a time before the internet or high-tech devices. Gen Zs have had their experiences with social media from an early age and have included this phenomenon as a part of their daily lifestyle.

Gen Z’s choice of social media platforms and content can be more accurately assessed if you know the characteristics of this generation –

  • Always Online: A survey conducted by Pew Research Center resulted that almost 45% of Gen Zs are always online, mostly on their mobile devices.
  • Have Unparalleled Access To Smartphones: Almost 95% of Gen Zs have a smartphone or access to one.
  • Loves Visuals: Gen Zs are visual learners. They are driven by visual content like photos and videos than written or textual content.
  • Privacy Conscious: Gen Z cares less about their data being used for personalised recommendations. But they do care for privacy on the whole. They don’t want to be spied upon.

What Do Gen Z Use Social Media For?

Generation Z use social media with a motive to –

  • Share daily life updates: Gen Z considers social media to be a place to keep everyone updated about their daily lives. They are the ones who post most pictures and updates about their lives on social media.
  • Develop A Personal Brand: Gen Zs are more driven towards individual achievements than any other generation. This makes them focus on their personal brand more than others. Gen Zs are content developers who use social media to develop their own brand.
  • Communicate with friends: Unlike older generations, people belonging to Gen Z are more connected to their friends via text, video calls and “snaps”.
  • Get over FOMO:FOMO, or the fear of missing out, too compels Gen Zs to keep a check on social media for updates from friends and acquaintances. They do so as they don’t want to miss out on current trends or glimpses that their friends share.
  • Make Most Of Micromoments: People belonging to this generation often check their social media newsfeeds and other applications regularly for a few minutes consuming a lot of short-form content.

Gen Z’s Favourite Social-Media Platforms

Gen Z’s characteristics and motives clearly indicate the social media platforms they use most. They prefer a platform that:

  • Is populated by visual content
  • Helps them develop their own brand
  • Lets them communicate with ease
  • Is more personal

Hence, the obvious platforms that fit these descriptions are –

Instagram

Around 52% of Gen Zs use Instagram.

The reason?

Well, Instagram is specifically developed to target the digital natives. It’s an ecosystem that capitalises on the micromoments requirement. The platform makes use of –

  • Portrait orientation: Since Instagram’s aim is to capitalise on micromoments, it keeps its orientation to be portrait to make scrolling and content consumption easier.
  • Short-form relevant content: Instagram constitutes mostly short-form content like stories, short videos, etc. that can be consumed within seconds.
  • Messaging: The platform has a handy text, image, and video messaging functionality that lets Gen Z users connect with other users with a tap.
  • Sharing: The posts can be shared with other users easily.
  • Brand building resources: Instagram is a content ecosystem which provides resources to build a brand online. The ecosystem revolves around followership where users follow other users to show support.
  • Social networking: Users can like and comment on others’ posts which further aids smoother social networking.
  • Aesthetic appeal: Gen Zs are strongly influenced by the visual-oriented content posted by other users.

Snapchat

51% of Gen Zs in the US check Snapchat on a regular basis. It is the top social media application among US teens.

The reason?

Snapchat is considered to be privacy centric by Gen Z. It’s one such platform which is not flooded by older generation. Moreover, it involves self-deleting messages which teens prefer.

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Besides this, here are other reasons why Snapchat found its way in Gen Z’s lifestyle –

  • Selfies and filters: Snapchat is known for its filters and provides its users with a rather unique selfie experience.
  • Celebrity lifestyle Information: An additional reason why Snapchat is so popular among this generation is that, like Instagram stories, Snapchat also enables users to follow their favourite celebrities and their lifestyles.

YouTube

Gen Zs are visual learners. They prefer to learn on YouTube than learning through apps, textbooks, etc. In fact, nearly 60% of Gen Zs prefer learning on YouTube, making this platform a go-to social media network for long-form content.

TikTok

TikTok was designed specially to cater to Gen Z. It focuses on short-form content, makes scrolling really easy, and is really easy to use.

But the north-star of TikTok is the emotional promise that anyone can go viral. Gen Z’s love for fame attracts them to this platform.

Gen Z’s Preferred content On Social Media Platforms

Social media is used by Gen Zs primarily during micromoments to check on the world.

They also find themselves being increasingly influenced by the content they find online. Gen Zs look for inspiration and ideas. They often end up following social media influencers for the same.

How much Time do Gen Z Spend on Social Media daily?

On an average, Gen Zs spend about 3 hours on social media per day.

Millennials

Millennials is a demographic cohort constituting people born between 1981 and 1995.

This generation is considered to be more educated and technologically advanced than its previous generations. The people belonging to this generation are most adaptable as they’ve lived a life before and after the advent of internet. They are more focused on social issues and are not afraid to take a stand.

Millennials choice of social media platforms and content can be more accurately assessed if you know the characteristics of this generation –

  • Tech Savy – Even though millennials are not tech-reliant, they are tech savy. They make sure to use the available tech to get their job done.
  • Early Adopters: This generation has witnessed so many changes that it has become a characteristic to look for something new.
  • Multi Taskers: Millennials is the pioneer generation with infinite choices. This made them multitaskers who live an on-the-go lifestyle.
  • Privacy-conscious: Millennials care for their privacy more than other generations.
  • Achievement-Oriented: Millennials seek the best possible outcome and even work hard to achieve it. They are even not afraid to question things.

What Do millennials Use Social Media For?

Millennials loves attention, connection, and recommendations. They use social media to –

  • Stay in touch with their friends and family and even make new connections. Millennials love the idea of new.
  • Overcome their FOMO and check on the latest updates. More than ¾ of millennials admit on being influenced or purchasing products based on the Instagram they follow.
  • Stay informed about different world issues.
  • Find something entertaining to read or watch.
  • Share content.

Millennials’ Favourite Social-Media Platforms

Millennials’ characteristics and motives clearly indicate the social media platforms they use most. They prefer a platform that:

  • Is populated by both textual and visual content
  • Provides with news and trends
  • Is focused more on content consumption
  • Lets them communicate with ease
  • Lets them learn at their own pace
  • Is more public

Hence, the obvious platforms that fit these descriptions are –

Facebook

Being the pioneer users of Facebook, millennials are so accustomed to using Facebook and are so in pressure of the network effect that they are stuck with it now.

Moreover, Facebook is developed just to cater to the needs of this generation –

  • More textual content,
  • Link outs,
  • Easy scrolling,
  • Easy sharing,
  • Easy communication with others.

Facebook is a great platform for millennials to consume content and even get news of the world.

According to the 2020 Consumer Culture Report, 77% of millennials use Facebook daily.

Twitter

Millennials care more about the world and social issues than other generations. This is why they’re so fond of the micro-blogging website Twitter.

In fact, almost 61% of Twitter Users Are Millennials. They get their daily dose of news, trends, and even gossip from this social media network.

Moreover, the platform also forms their voice to support their causes.

Instagram

Instagram suits millennials’ on-the-go lifestyle. They get to consume short-form content during their breaks and even share their life with the world.

Moreover, Instagram also allows users of this generation to show their aspirational personality and build a brand.

YouTube

In the words of Google

  • Millennials are self-starters and doers: They like to learn things at their own pace.
  • For millennials, self-improvement trumps self-promotion: Millennials look for ways to improve their health, lifestyle, and take other recommendations to improve themselves.
  • Millennials like to dream: Millennials like to view a world in a different perspective through the eyes of other people.

All these requirements are catered to on Youtube which forms a go-to social media platform for millennials.

Millennials’ Preferred Content On Social Media Platforms

Millennials prefer both visual and textual content. They like reading opinions and even love recommendations.

In fact, social media play a big role in how millennials shop.

Beside this, the users of this generation typically are more likely to share content that they find appealing and informative with their friends and families.

How Much Time Do millennials Spend On Social Media Daily?

Millennials spend about over 2.5 hours on social media each day.

Generation X

Generation X is a demographic cohort constituting people born between 1965 and 1980.

This generation has lived through difficult economic times in the 1980s and has a specific set of characteristics that set them apart. They are –

  • Independent: This generation grew up with minimal adult supervision and thus learned the value of independence from early age.
  • Resourceful: Gen X’s problem-solving skill is more developed because of their experience.
  • Technologically Hybrid: They’ve seen a life before and after internet and are more technologically hybrid in doing work. But they are not the master of technology as the other two generations that came after them.
  • Financially Literate: Gen X saw the great depression. Hence, they know the value of money and are more careful with expenditures. Moreover, these people have started families, making them more conscious while spending.
  • Privacy Conscious: Gen X doesn’t like the idea of putting their personal lives on display on social media.
  • Advertisement Haters: Gen X has seen influential advertisements of the moon landing, the Cold War, the internet revolution, and the Y2K crisis etc. so they have a prejudice against advertisements.

What Do Gen X Use Social Media For?

Gen X loves information – be it related to their connections or the advertisement they saw on TV. They use the internet and even social media to consume as much information as they can (which can even be fake news).

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They use social media to

  • Stay in touch only with people who matter – their friends and family.
  • Share their opinions with people who matter.
  • Research.
  • Consume information.

Gen X’s Favourite Social-Media Platforms

Gen Z’s characteristics and motives clearly indicate the social media platforms they use most. They prefer a platform that:

  • Is easy to use and operate
  • Is more visual (since they’re generation that grew up with television)
  • Provides with news and trends
  • Is focused more on content consumption
  • Lets them communicate with ease
  • Gives them importance
  • Provides a feeling of nostalgia (connect with friends, provide past information, etc.)

Hence, the obvious platforms that fit these descriptions are –

  • Facebook
  • Youtube
  • Instagram

Facebook

Those belonging to Generation X tend to be non-experimental. They stick to platforms that they are familiar with, and tend to steer away from trying out new platforms. Facebook is relatively the easiest to use social medium that most Gen-X’ers are familiar with, and hence, Facebook remains the most popular among this generation.

In fact, over 95% of Gen X’ers use Facebook.

They use it to connect with people who matter, consume information, get news and trends, and even share their opinions with ease.

YouTube

In the words of Google, Gen Z use YouTube to –

  • Embrace nostalgia: Gen X likes to view embrace nostalgia, be it in the form of past entertainment, people of the past, past advertisements, or even past pop culture.
  • Get news: Youtube is the go-to news source for Gen X.
  • Do things themselves: Since these people are more self reliant and independent, they use YouTube to master DIY skills and do work themselves.

Instagram

Unlike platforms like Snapchat and Twitter, which require time to figure out thoroughly, Instagram is easy to figure out.

Moreover, it provides an easy and visual access to know more about the brands and people who matter.

Gen X’s Preferred Content On Social Media Platforms

Gen X love visuals. They want to see more of their connections.

And when it comes to consuming content, they prefer personalisation and getting more importance.

How Much Time Do Gen X Spend On Social Media Daily?

This generation, on an average, spends a little less than an hour per day on social media.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers is a demographic cohort constituting people born between 1946 and 1964.

People belonging to this generation are the natives of the old media – newspapers, TV, radio, etc. They’ve seen the most dramatic change in technology and are arguably more used to changes. This is the generation that used to write letters to their friends and hence, love the idea of textual messages.

However, this generation is still not used to the idea of using smartphones to the fullest – majorly because of their old age. They are the ones who use the pointer finger instead of thumb to use smartphones.

What Do Baby Boomers Use Social Media For?

Unlike other generations, baby boomers still are reliant on old media. They still read magazines and watch TV.

But they do use social media, majorly to remain in contact with their friends and family. Baby boomers have spent most of their lives without any social media. Hence, they lost touch with friends. In the age of social media, reconnecting with is considered their biggest motives behind creating a social media account.

Baby Boomers Favourite Social-Media Platforms

Contrary to what many may think, an overwhelming 82.3% of baby boomers use at least once social networking site. 

Facebook

About 75% of all baby boomers in the US have an account on Facebook. It is undoubtedly considered the key medium of connecting with family and friends, and so it is no surprise that Facebook is the most popular medium among baby boomers.

YouTube

50% of all baby boomers online engage in watching videos online, with about 82% of these opting for YouTube for their video requirements.

YouTube does not really facilitate social networking like Facebook and Instagram, and is a platform that allows users to access Television content like the news and their favourite shows. This provides with both, information and entertainment, on demand.

baby Boomers Preferred Content On Social Media Platforms

Informative videos, preferably ones that are slow-paced, are a favourite among baby boomers. However, they don’t mind reading texts as well, especially if it’s in their native language.

Facebook and YouTube happen to be their favourite platforms for videos. Videos keep them engaged, allow them new insights and teaches them new things that keep them up to date in the modern world.

How Much Time Do Baby Boomers Spend On Social Media Daily?

Baby boomers tend to be heavy internet users. On an average, they spend about 2 hours on social media per day.

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