Understanding how your audience behaves and buys on social media is key to driving your social media advertising efforts and determining what type of advertising you do.
Today, we’ll look at the Q1 2017 Sprout Social Index, which segments the social media audience into three generations: Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. How are the generations different (and similar) when it comes to following, engaging with and buying from brands through social media platforms? Further, how are we engaging them post-purchase?
The Customer-Brand Relationship on Social Media
As you’ve likely heard before, the relationship between customer and brand is about so much more than a purchase – it’s a journey.
Customer Following, Expectations, Behavior
In the social media world, a significant part of that journey is when a customer begins to follow a brand, which could happen at any point. According to Sprout Social’s data, it’s more likely to happen before purchase for just under 59 percent of Millennials, just over 50 percent of Gen Xers and 55 percent of Baby Boomers.
Once they’re following, each generation favors a different kind of experience. Millennials want entertainment and information (38 and 42 percent respectively). Gen Xers are interested in contests (41 percent) and deals and promotions (58 percent). Baby Boomers like a bit of both with 60 percent wanting deals and promotions and 53 percent seeking information.
While 29 percent of all age groups claim they engage (liking, sharing, commenting) with brands on social media on a monthly basis, Gen X and Millennials do so at a slightly higher rate (32 and 30 percent, respectively). Baby Boomers, it turns out, do more observing than engaging; only 14 percent regularly initiate engagement with brands on social media.
In addition to the regular interaction, Millennials prefer social media to the phone or email for communication, and are twice as likely as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to opt for that channel with a brand.
A follow is not always forever. Twenty-nine percent of Baby Boomers unfollow after receiving too much spam. Gen Xers dislike annoyance and spam like the other generations, but are 160 times more likely than Baby Boomers and Millennials to unfollow brands that say things they find offensive or in opposition to their beliefs.
Millennials unfollow at a rate of 22 percent when they find marketing efforts annoying. Bad experiences cause 21 percent of Millennials to unfollow brands. Less deterred by spam and differing viewpoints than other generations, Millennials expect their direct interactions with brands to be pleasant.
Social Media and the Bottom Line
We know the follows and the likes and the comments are nice, but do they translate to sales? Perhaps not at a one-to-one rate, but having more followers is certainly worth something.
According to Sprout Social, 62 percent of users across the three generations say they are likely (or somewhat likely) to buy from brands they follow on social media. Generation X is most likely to do so at 67 percent.
For Millennials, it’s 60 percent, and for Baby Boomers, 51 percent. Better yet, 71 percent of customers say they’re more likely to buy from a brand after a positive interaction.
Customer Care, Post-Purchase
Facebook frequently updates how its advertising and shopping platforms work, and is blazing a trail for brands and customers connecting on social media.
An aspect of this is continuing the relationship post-purchase and providing good customer care. Last year, we discussed a specific example in the Business on Messenger feature. The update made it possible for brands and buyers to connect directly and privately on Facebook.
In terms of post-purchase customer care, a Messenger for business user (as it’s now called) can send statuses on purchases, shipping and delivery, while customers can ask questions for a quick response.
The Messenger for business feature has been further updated with usernames, links and codes, as well as greetings that set a friendly tone at the beginning of your communication with a customer.
Going back to the data from Sprout Social, we see how something like direct messages with followers and customers can be good for your brand. It’s the Millennials’ preferred method of communication, and a way to drive the good experiences that keep them following. It could even be the positive interaction that leads to (another) sale.
How do various industries measure up when it comes to social customer care? Sprout Social’s Brand & Consumer Index looks at response and engagement metrics for a range of market sectors.
Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers all expected media, entertainment and retail to come out on top, but it seems utilities provide the best in message response and general brand engagement:
There is no one kind of social media follower or customer, even within the segmented generations. Now that you understand a bit more about their expectations and behaviors, and how they can drive the bottom line, you can improve your customers’ social media journey and your advertising strategy. Ultimately, these efforts can improve your reputation and drive your bottom line.