Targeting customers by generation on social media

Social media platforms are a goldmine for reaching your customers.

According to data from Statista, 81 percent of Americans use social media, and that includes Americans of all ages. Not only is social media popular now, but it’s only expected to increase in popularity with time. While it’s not likely that your parents or retirement-age neighbors were actively using social media five years ago, there is a good chance that is no longer the case.

Facebook is proven to be the most popular social platform across all generations, but other social media networks are favored by specific age groups for specific reasons. As generational trends, courtesy of Sprout Social research:

  • Millennials and younger age groups tend to prefer highly visual and interactive platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.
  • Generation Xers are especially interested in Pinterest. They tend to use YouTube to watch educational and “how-to” videos.
  • Baby Boomers are particular to the most traditional social media platforms, Google+ and Facebook.
  • Twitter is not incredibly popular among any one age group, but it is used a fair amount by all.
  • Facebook beats out its counterparts in all age groups.

How can you use this information to benefit your dealership?

Our first piece of advice is to create and maintain a presence on all the major social media platforms. If your dealership is currently only using Facebook to advertise and connect with customers, you should definitely consider expanding your reach. While Facebook provides a great way to interact with customers of all ages, there are major missed opportunities in other places online.


Millennials are generally very visual and interactive, so create video content targeted towards them. Exciting footage of your boats on the water and upbeat promotions advertising your dealership events will likely entice them. This isn’t limited to YouTube – videos can be embedded to other social media pages and even on your website as well. Short videos and clips – even live ones – on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat could be a smart tactic to attract younger customers.

Another tip for the Millennial audience: They are the most savvy in social media advertising, and they can see right through ads and promotional content. While it’s still smart to advertise on social, you also want to mix in other types of posts. Get to know these followers on a personal level and try to make genuine connections – earn their trust.

Generation X

Gen Xers want to see the value of your products and find out more information about the boats and accessories you sell. Educational content is considered very useful to them, and that can come in many forms – blog post articles, instructional posts about your units and video demos showing how your boats are operated and maintained – these are just a few ideas.

Like millennials, those in Generation X are highly likely to follow brands that they like on social media. Promote your social media platforms through your traditional advertising methods, like flyers and signs. Actively pursue new followers on your accounts.

According to Sprout Social’s research, members of Generation X are the most likely of all age groups to unfollow a brand due to offensive content, so take that into consideration when editing and proofreading your posts.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are often disregarded in social media planning, but Pew Research Center data between 2005-2015 shows that 64 percent of them have at least one social media account. They tend to be the most traditional in their social media preferences, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to promote sales specials or show off your latest units in stock to these customers.

The older customers in the Baby Boomer generation tend to be very loyal, so put in effort to retain these customers. Younger age groups are more likely to flock to your competitors if the pricing and messaging is right. To encourage customers of all ages to stick around, customer loyalty programs and special offers are wise investments.

Currently, there is a good chance that Baby Boomers are spending the most money at your dealership, as they are likely more financially established than younger customers. They make up an audience that you don’t want to ignore on social media.

While you don’t necessarily want to rely on generational stereotypes, there is solid research that backs up these preferences and behavioral tendencies on social media. Creating a strategic approach for your audiences on these platforms is smart – you’re paving a way for your business to best reach your customers and connect with them on a highly targeted and personalized level.

Lauren McLean is the public relations manager for Dealer Spike, a company that provides innovative websites as well as a suite of powerful online advertising solutions that help marine dealers help increase sales and service profitability. For more information, visit or call 800-288-5917.

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