Social marketing: How to reach your audience


Marketers should shape their social strategies based on what generation they are trying to reach.

Published: June 29, 2022

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Marketers know social media is an important tool to engage audiences, develop communities and to drive purchases, but do you know how different generations are using social platforms and what their expectations from brands are? These answers are the keys to social marketing.

A new report from Emplifi, with research conducted by Harris Interactive, offers some insights to help marketers shape their social strategies.

“Social continues to pull away as the consumers’ choice, and the companies that will succeed are those who follow their customers’ lead and embrace social as well,” said Emplifi’s Shellie Vornhagen in a press release.

The report answers several key questions for marketers:

Which social platforms do each generation prefer?

Generation X can be found on Facebook, while TikTok and Instagram are favored by Generation Z. YouTube and Twitter have similar engagement across all age groups.

All age groups prefer to communicate with brands via social media rather than any other channel.

How are consumers using social during the purchasing journey?

More than 40% of Americans already use social media to interact with brands during the purchase process, and 68% either use or would like to use social media to ask questions before buying a product.

Some 64% use social media or would like to use it to make purchases and 59% say the same about post-purchase communications.

Facebook is the top platform for providing purchase inspiration to Gen X and millennials, but YouTube is top for Gen Z, although it is also ranked highly across other age groups. TikTok also is a significant purchase driver for Gen Z.

What do consumers expect from brands on social?

Sixty-two percent of consumers don’t think they receive an excellent customer experience when making purchases on social media, rising to 70% among Gen Z.

And 52% expect brands to answer their queries within an hour, while 32% expect a reply within 30 minutes.

The research exposes a gap between customer expectations and reality as 39% typically end up waiting at least two hours for a response, while 20% are left waiting for 24 hours.

What it means for marketers

The report shows that consumers are already using social to drive purchase decisions and offers insights to help marketers target customers on the right social platforms.

Perhaps the most significant finding is that all respondents, but particularly Gen Z, want better customer experiences from brands on social media, especially when it comes to response times.

“Brands need to adopt an ‘always on’ approach when it comes to social media interactions,” the report advises.

We already know Gen Z consumers have a high expectation of brands in terms of personalization and that they want to see inclusive content from brands that involves communities and creators.

Marketers who combine those strategies with fast social response times could help their brand to become a favorite among the younger generation.

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