Keeping on top of social media trends can be tough…
There’s no denying that social media is a phenomenon brought into the world by young people. The founders of some of today’s most major networks—Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter, for example—were just barely thirty when they found themselves at the helm of two of the internet’s most powerful and world-changing companies. As young people, what they created was naturally suited for the youth demographic. But as social media has continued to expand and change the way the world communicates and does business, so too has the usership. Now, everyone from high school students to grandparents use social media, but not necessarily all in the same way.
Indeed, the other firm truth about social media is that it changes quickly. As prominent YouTuber and Beme founder Casey Neistat has said on his YouTube channel: “The life expectancy of a social media platform is about the same as a hamster’s.”. Indeed, even since those major networks were founded in the mid-to late naughties, many others have sprung up and are slowly shifting the balance away to a younger user group. Unlike 18 year olds in 2005, today’s 18 year olds were not part of the Facebook generation and they see the social network as something their parents use, making it far less appealing to them. They are much more likely to gravitate towards networks like SnapChat or Instagram, rather than “old” stalwarts such as Facebook and Twitter.
As companies increasingly use social media to connect with their customers, clients or target demographics, the idea of the “social media age” becomes more and more important for them to understand. Content type, frequency, language and tone all vary across social media streams and platforms, and can reveal a great deal about the poster’s age. It’s not enough to simply reach your audience, you have to engage with them too. Thus, if your social media team is 35+ and your target demographic is 18-21, you might be missing the mark. Here are some tips on how to make sure you’re not speaking to the wrong age group when using various social media platforms:
Know your target audience: As mentioned above, different age groups gravitate towards different platforms. Don’t focus all your youth-oriented energy on Facebook if young users see it as a place for their parents to network. Likewise, don’t try to reach housewives on Twitter or LinkedIn when they’re far more likely to be on Pinterest. Do market research to figure out where your target demographic likes to hang out online.
Think about devices: You may post stunning slideshows and thought-provoking blogs, but if you’re marketing them to a younger demographic that’s largely mobile-only, your efforts are unlikely to get much traction unless optimised accordingly. Attention spans differ across age group, networks and devices, so make sure you’re posting content that makes sense in the given demographic you’re trying to reach.
Celebrity has changed: Back in the day the “celebrity spokesperson” cost millions of dollars to hire for a thirty-second appearance endorsement deal. Not so anymore. To a younger demographic, YouTube, Vine and SnapChat influencers hold far more appeal than a Hollywood celebrity, even if nobody over 25 has ever heard of them. If you’re a company looking to reach a younger demographic, don’t overlook this opportunity on social.
Avoid corporate social speak: Much of the social media language we know today was created organically on social media by young people—#onfleek and “bae”, for example. In that way, the advertising slogan has been replaced by the social media meme. Young people don’t want to hear big corporates try and pretend they are hip and privy to the latest trends. Chances are by the time this so-called “authentic and youth oriented” social copy is approved and posted, the youth will have moved on to something else. Don’t try so hard to sound young that you age yourself in the process.
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