top of page

Social Media Use Among the Generations and Why Businesses Cannot Ignore Social Media

Social media continues to be a common and prevalent aspect of our daily lives, so if you are a business owner and social media is not part of your marketing strategy, you might want to rethink your strategy.

A decade ago, companies might have (still doubtful) been able to write off social media as a marketing tool if they were marketing to an older crowd. That is no longer the case. While it is true that each generation uses social media differently and at different rates, it is also true that all of the generations are on social media. Another truth is millennials (born with technology in their hands) are now full-grown adults in their 30s, thus a significant portion of the market.

The Pew Research Center released a Fact Tank in September 2019 showing it is now even possible for social media marketing to reach the Silent Generation as their use has nearly doubled since 2012, from 22% to 37%. Again, making social media a vital part of a company's marketing strategy.

The Pew Research Center also reported some key statistical facts about social media use across generations.


  • 86% of Millennials say they use social media. This has been unchanged since 2012

  • Gen X, Baby Boomers and Silents have all increased their social media use by at least 10% since 2012.

  • 84% of Millennials use Facebook

  • 74% of Gen Xers use Facebook

  • 60% of Boomers use Facebook

  • 37% of Silents use Facebook

In another Fact Tank from 2019, Pew found that Facebook and YouTube have the most use among adults, each with over 70% of adults saying they use these platforms. However, a look at the upcoming generation finds that Instagram and Snapchat are the platforms most used by Gen Z, people born between 1997 and 2010. If this remains the case as they age is to be determined.

All generations agree they most enjoy social media posts that include pictures. This can be important as companies develop their brands.

To create a social media marketing campaign that reaches each of these generations, companies must understand who they are, where they came from and what they believe.

Who are these generations?

The Silent Generation- born in 1928 -1945

  • No member of this generation ever served as president of the United States

  • Raised by parents that just survived the Great Depression. Experienced hard times while growing up which were followed by times of prosperity.

  • Core values: follow rules and conform

Baby Boomers- born in 1946-1964

  • Named because of the increase in births after WWII

  • In 1999, there were 78.8 million Boomers

  • Post War Babies who grew up to be radicals of the 70’s and yuppies of the 80’s. “The American Dream” was promised to them as children and they pursue it.

  • Core Values: Anti-government, personal growth, work and loyalty to their children

Gen X- born in 1965-1980

  • Only 36% of Gen Xers have more wealth than their parents, despite the majority making more than their parents, according to Pew

  • Between the ages of 23-35, 9% lived at home with parents

  • They grew up having to take care of themselves early and watching their politicians lie and their parents get laid off.

  • Core values: Diversity, fun, independence

Millennials- born in 1996-1981

  • ¼ of the population is made up of Millennials

  • 39% have a bachelor’s degree or higher

  • Those without degrees had lower earnings than those in previous generations

  • In 2018, 15% lived at home with parents

  • They grew up as children of divorce, hope to be the next great generation and to turn around all the “wrong” they see in the world today. They grew up more sheltered than any other generation as parents strived to protect them from the evils of the world.

  • Core values: Achievement, consumerism, education, and urgency

Gen Z- born in 1997-2010They

  • The oldest will finish college in 2020.

  • By 2026, they will be 82% of the consumer population

  • Most ethnically diverse generation

  • As this generation ages, their values and influences will become clearer

  • What is known now: they consume uniqueness and shop ethically

  • The are digital natives

  • They are communicators and want to interact face to face

All 6 of these generations are consumers or very soon to be consumers. Knowing them, their consumption habits and preferences, as well as their social media trends, will help any business stay relevant.


bottom of page