Sprout Social surveyed 1,000 Millennials (ages 18-34), Gen Xers (ages 34-54), and Baby Boomers (ages 55+) to understand how each generation engages with brands on social. This research found that Millennials and Gen Xers are twice as likely to follow a brand on social media as Baby Boomers are. Approximately 49 percent of Millennials and Generation Xers follow brands on social media, while only 25 percent of Millennials do so. All the generations—Millennials (59 percent), Gen Xers (50 percent), and Baby Boomers (55 percent) tend to follow a brand on social media before purchasing a product.
Although the generations express interest on social media during the same stage of the customer journey, they follow for different reasons. Millennials follow brands for entertainment value (38 percent) and information (42 percent). Gen Xers follow brands more for contests (41 percent) and deals/promotions (58 percent). Baby Boomers take a more balanced approach and follow brands for both deals/promotions (60 percent) and information (53 percent).
The generations interact differently with brands they follow monthly. Gen Xers interact most with brands monthly (32 percent) followed by Millennials (30 percent). However, Baby Boomers are mostly just observers. Only 14 percent reported engaging with a brand on social media monthly.
The generations also differ with regard to why they unfollow brands. Gen Xers are 160 percent more likely than any other generation to unfollow a brand that presents content that is offensive or against their personal beliefs. Millennials unfollow brands based on bad experiences (21 percent) or because they find the brand’s social marketing annoying (22 percent). Baby Boomers reported that too much spam (29 percent) was their primary reason for unfollowing a brand.
Across generations, respondents are likely to purchase a product from a brand they follow on social media. Sixty-two percent of all participants reported being likely to do so. Approximately 70 percent of Gen Xers, 60 percent of Millennials, and 51 percent of Baby Boomers said they would likely purchase something from a brand they follow.