Gen X and Social Media Stuck in the Middle

Talking about my generation

Have you ever noticed that marketing folks always seem to be talking about how to reach Baby Boomers? Or what’s the latest app to connect with Millennials?

What happened to marketing to Generation X, my generation? Well, my friends, this is the post for those of us stuck in the middle.

It may be time to start shifting your attention to Gen Xers. As the Baby Boomers continue to age, we’re finding that they’re more consumed with retirement and spending time with their Grandkids than the latest hi-tech gadget.

For the first time ever, adults defined as Generation X (those of us born between 1965 – 1980)  are spending more of their paychecks on luxury items than their Baby Boomer counterparts. Yes, I said more.

It appears the MTV generation are outspending their parents by 18% in multiple high-end product categories. Gen Xers are reaching the top of their professional careers and due to the industries they have chosen, many are actually out-earning Boomers.

Don’t You Forget About Me

I’m a part of the only generation who regularly consume their marketing messages from all of the main media channels including social media networks and mobile (unlike Boomers) and TV/cable (unlike Gen Y). It’s like the trifecta for all the major brands marketing campaigns.

Currently, Generation X leads other generations in the consumption of several key forms of media: television, online video and video-on-demand. This makes sense, since we are the first generation to grow up with more than 3 channels of television and the personal computer.

When we look at the overall usage of social media for people ages 35 and over, we know it began it with the initial curiosity and the idea of reconnecting with old friends that brought us all out from behind our laptops.

Between 2009 and 2010, Gen Xers were one of the fastest growing target audiences to use social media networks. As most of the early adopters of social media, Gen X still have an active online lifestyle but our usage is directly connected to our social group of friends.

With everything else going on in our busy lives, the Gen X crowd will find a way to incorporate social media into our daily schedule. If our friends and family were to stop using Facebook, our usage would drop instead of finding new online friends to connect with (as the Gen Y crowd would do).

Pew’s Generations report that 86% of Gen X are online on almost a daily basis. We were the first group to experience the internet as a part of our daily lives. This led most of us to habitually research everything from major purchases to mapping where to go for lunch.

As small business owners, think about the online opportunities you can create to connect with this generation to your products. Since we know many Gen Xers are researching their potential purchases online, developing an integrated online and social media campaign would be a great way for your company to target this age group.

We have a BS meter

As Darryl Roberts from Wine X Magazine so eloquently puts it, ” … unlike the Boomers before us, we have a BS meter more sensitive than any seismograph. During the years we were watching Saturday-morning cartoons, we were assaulted by a barrage of advertising so intense it had to be addressed by federal legislation.”

Due to the world Mr. Roberts describes, Gen Xers tend to be skeptical about the big brands and their claims for greatness. But once we find a brand we approve of that can solve our problems, we turn into loyal customers who will sing your praises to anyone who will listen.

When planning your strategy to target the Xers, it may seem to like you have to hit every marketing channel to reach them. Just know your hard work will pay off with a customer for life. Gen X are known for our extreme brand loyalty.

Our House (in the middle of our street)

Gen Xers are professional multi-taskers. While we’re relaxing at the end of the day, we’re watching television while we surf the interwebs alternating with logging on to our favorite social sites.

This is the first generation to incorporate social media into their lives.

  • Nearly two-thirds of Gen X (65.6%) used Facebook in the past month. (eMarketer)
  • Their usage of Twitter continues to rise and eMarketer estimates their tweets to reach 19.5% of this audience by 2017.
  • Digital video is even more popular among Gen Xers than social networking, with 78.7% downloading or streaming video online at least once per month. (eMarketer)
  • Gen X is 26% more likely to have used the internet in the past 30 days to watch movies and 25% more likely to have recently used the internet to watch television shows. (eMarketer)
  • The second largest percent of Pinterest users, 30% (which are mostly women) fall into the 35-54 Gen X demographic. (edison)
  • Instagram has a smaller audience in the 35-54 target audience, with only 27% of its users classified as Generation X. (edison)
So, what should your company do to market to Generation X?

Take a look at at these ideas to create a multi-social media strategy with engagement in all the marketing channels to reach the Gen Xers:

Facebook: Gen Xers are active information seekers where everything is on demand. Plan to post often and consistently with information and resources they can use in their busy lives.

Find ways to entertain them with funny quotes or photos (yes, I mean those silly cat pictures) and you’ll give Gen X a reason to check your fan page when they log on.

Pinterest: Most of the Gen X crowd work to live rather than live to work. Use your Pinterest pins to show them the fun side of life as you’re showing them tips to help them cross things off their to-do list.

Gen X is completely comfortable buying online so create pins that show off your products’ benefits as well as their features. Give us a reason to click that Buy Here button.

Instagram: Gen X are mobile friendly. Most have a smartphone as well as a tablet. Take advantage of their consistent online usage while they document their lives on Instagram.

This is the social program to do something unconventional like an online contest where users share their images using your product or service.

That’s just a few ideas to get you started marketing your small business to Generation X.

And I should know. I’m so deep into the Gen X world that I remember when MTV launched with music videos. Plus, if there’s anyone you should trust about this subject is someone who learned all her grammar rules from School House Rock.

Photo credit: and o 

PS If you’re overloaded with all your social media marketing, download your FREE copy of my 10 Social Media Time Management Strategies ebook. You’ll get time management tips to help you create a social media routine that works with your crazy busy world.