X vs. Y: Generational differences and social media

Different generations looking at social media on their phones

When we think millennials, or Generation Y, stereotypes will tell you these guys are the selfie-obsessed, social media mavens, constantly tweeting and snapping their every thought.  While it paints a logical narrative, the numbers tell another story.  According to a Nielsen report, this group isn’t the one you will find scrolling their feeds the most.  Americans 18 to 34 are actually less obsessed with social media than their older peers.   That’s right: we are looking at you, Generation X.

This report found adults 35 to 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media networks, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes for the younger group.   It has always been a general thought that this channel was owned by Generation Y – and as a marketer probably more of the hope, being that millennials are more impressionable.

When it comes to mapping out your social media strategy, this statistic might change the game. Here are a few ways to approach this audience on social media, in comparison to their millennial counterparts.

Facebook is their friend – not their highlight reel
According to data derived from Personal Money Service, 80 percent of this group is on Facebook and Twitter, with Facebook taking the lead.  Generation X is a prime social media target – but not in the way you would think.   Probably one of the most important things to note about this group is they don’t need or seek limelight.

A vast differentiation from their millennial successors, they like to keep things on the DL.  The focus on the “selfie” is not their thing – both figuratively and literally.  In fact, according to a study by PewResearchCenter, only 24 percent have actually shared one on social media, compared to millennials’ 55 percent.  They utilize social media for information gathering and keeping in touch with old friends.

Online reviews are gospel
Groupthink is not something Gen Xers find attractive.  Getting them to join a bandwagon would never be their first choice.  Gen X believes in individualism and independence. Their parents’ divorce rate was a major factor in the developing resourcefulness, independence and self-sufficiency.

Before making any sort of buying decision, they do their research – with a lot of their information coming from social media.  In fact, 68 percent of this crew makes their buying decisions based on online reviews.  Doesn’t matter how popular it is – they want to make sure they know what they are getting in to on their own terms.

They are night owls
Gen Xers multitask regularly.  According to a Yahoo study, they often juggle between multiple devices at once – laptops, smartphones and TVs – between the hours of 7-11 p.m., and switching between these devices 9.2 times per hour.  If you want to catch these guys at prime time, consider posting your messaging later in the evening.  Just before they are about to turn in for the night, reach them in their nightly news feeding.

Generation X flies under the radar – and they like it that way.  The findings of this study further prove that claim.  They might be an inconspicuous crew, but if approached properly, you could be unlocking another portion of this generation’s buying power.



MultiView Team Expert Julie Bernhard

Julie Bernhard

News Briefs Executive Editor



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