Foolproof Influencer Marketing for Every Age – From Gen Z to Baby Boomers

When you think of which social media audiences are most receptive to influencer marketing, one particular demographic probably comes to mind: millennials. It’s tempting to automatically associate the growing trend of reaching consumers through brand/influencer partnerships with this group of young people, who are expected to overtake Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation. 

The 18-to-34 age group is certainly prominent online, with many using a variety of platforms on a regular basis. However, millennials are hardly the only ones who are routinely active on social media: Facebook in particular is being used by a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups.

The truth is, influencer marketing is a highly effective way of reaching all kinds of age groups and interests. Consumer trust in brands is down, with 41% of consumers stating that they don’t trust brands’ marketing communications to be accurate and truthful. More and more consumers are tuning out traditional advertising altogether in favor of recommendations from friends and family — and that’s where influencer marketing really shines. When done correctly, influencer marketing leverages the word of mouth authenticity that consumers of all ages are drawn to.

While influencer marketing is optimal for raising brand awareness and engaging with target audiences from Gen Z to boomers, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many differences in social media use by age. Different age groups also have differing behaviors, preferences, and needs, which means every campaign should be customized based on research. 

It seems obvious that an influencer campaign that’s wildly successful among 22-year-old green beauty fans won’t offer much appeal to seniors who enjoy geocaching. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t reach those same seniors online with the right approach. The trick to getting influencer marketing right across the generations is understanding how different age groups prefer to connect online, and what kind of content they’re looking for.

Here are some tips for tailoring your influencer marketing campaign to your target customer age demographic:


Young children

Kids have great sway over their parents’ purchases: a study back in 2000 revealed that children influence up to $500 billion a year in family buying. As a result, advertising to children has skyrocketed in recent years, with many concerns rising over the ethical ramifications. In order to reach children in a safe and responsible way, it’s extremely important to avoid potentially harmful messaging — including ads that employ adult themes or unhealthy stereotypes.

Platforms to target: 

  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat

Best-Practice Influencer Marketing Ideas:

  • Partner with a “kidfluencer.” The under-13 digital media market has been exploding, with some young content creators making millions in sponsorships. There are plenty of young, passionate influencers who specialize in toy reviews and unboxing, slime tutorials, game walkthroughs, and more.
  • Work with an agency. Given the tricky nature of working with young children, it can be better to use an agency to handle these partnerships. Ask to see examples of their kid-focused campaigns, and how they manage payments, quality assurance, FTC disclosures, etc.
  • Get creative with parent influencers. One way to incorporate children into a campaign is by working with their influencer parents. Children can be featured in the social content, perhaps by interacting with the brand product or service — with messaging that appeals to both the parent-centric audience and their own children. 

Generation Z

Generation Z is loosely defined, but can be generally thought of as people born from 1995 to 2010. This generation was born or brought up in the age of digital technology; these so-called “digital natives” are fluent at using platforms and social media and tend to be more immersed in the online world. Over half (55%) of Gen Z use their smartphones 5 or more hours a day and over a quarter (26%) use their phones 10 or more hours a day. 

Platforms to target: 

  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat 

Best-Practice Influencer Marketing Ideas:

  • Communicate (and act upon!) brand values: In a study from Google, teens said they want brands to be “a representation of their values, their expectations of themselves and their peers.” Influencer campaigns that put values into action are more likely to resonate.
  • Prioritize authenticity: Members of Gen Z are drawn to authenticity and uniqueness. For this group, it’s best to partner with nano-influencers (1-10k followers) or micro-influencers (10-100k followers), because they’re perceived as credible information sources.
  • Use social media to drive in-store purchases: Nearly half of Gen Z shoppers use Instagram for brand discovery: 45% say they find cool new products on Instagram, but they still prefer the in-store experience once they’re ready to purchase. A Gen-Z-focused influencer campaign can include Instagram’s in-app shopping feature, but it’s best to prioritize making the content itself as appealing as possible.

Millennials

Millennials, born from 1981 to 1996, are early adopters of social media, and digitally-savvy multi-taskers: they’re frequently switching between devices, from phones to tablets to computers and smart TVs.

Platforms to target: 

  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat 
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Best-Practice Influencer Marketing Ideas:

  • Don’t rely on celebrity-level influencers: Like Genz Z, millennials aren’t easily swayed by celebrities. In a recent survey of US millennial internet users from Roth Capital Partners, the vast majority of respondents, 78%, either had a negative view of celebrity-level endorsements or were indifferent to the practice with regard to making a purchase. 
  • Avoid millennial tropes: No one is more tired of avocado toast jokes than this generation! Make them feel heard and understood with messaging that reflects their values, interests, and opinions.
  • Focus on connecting, rather than selling: A whopping 90% of Millennials say brand authenticity is important, and they prefer peer recommendations and user-generated content (UGC) over sales pitches. Partner with savvy, trusted influencers who are skilled at weaving brand messaging into their everyday content.

Gen X

Don’t forget about Generation X! While this generation may be smaller, with birth years ranging from 1965 to 1980, generation X makes up just 25% of the population but earns 31% of U.S. income dollars. They’re more likely to be getting online via a smartphone than a PC, and spend almost 2 hours a day on social media.

Platforms to target: 

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest 
  • Blogs

Best-Practice Influencer Marketing Ideas:

  • Use nostalgia:  Interestingly, research has shown that creating an atmosphere of nostalgic remembrance prompts people to spend more. Gen X is drawn to nostalgia, so consider an influencer campaign that prompts audiences to relive fond memories. 
  • Offer value: Plenty of Gen Xers live in multi-generational households, and may be helping support their aging parents as well as their children. Appeal to their budget-conscious mindset with discounts, coupons, or other deals. 
  • Do good: Like younger generations, Gen X likes brands and businesses that make a positive social impact — but they’re savvy enough to know when they’re being fed lip service. Back your brand talk with an influencer campaign that shows real action.

Boomers: 

Marketers tend to zero in on millennials as being the most lucrative market, but the baby boomer generation is much more economically powerful. Boomer spending is expected to reach $15 trillion worldwide by the end of 2019. Millennials are ahead when it comes to tech adoption, but older people are definitely online: Boomers are showing the greatest increase in activity on social media platforms compared to other generations.

Platforms to target: 

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Blogs

Best-Practice Influencer Marketing Ideas:

  • Focus on Facebook:  Facebook is the preferred platform among this older crowd, and they’re highly engaged there: Boomers are 19% more likely to share content on Facebook than any other generation. 
  • Consider incorporating video: While millennials tend to prefer photos, boomers are drawn to written content and video. 27% of boomers are regularly watching video on Facebook. 68% of boomers say they watch YouTube videos to be entertained, while others are routinely watching videos to learn new things.
  • Respect their individuality and interests: Older consumers are looking for products and services that enhance their quality of life. They’re often searching for information on travel, healthcare, entertainment, hobbies, and family. Acknowledge their desire to support an active, healthy lifestyle, and avoid messaging that depicts them as elderly or feeble

The best way to reach your target consumer — whatever their age may be — with influencer marketing is to understand their habits and preferences. It’s useful to be able to categorize people by generation, but don’t fall into the trap of assuming that every consumer within that group has the same lifestyle and interests. Take the time to really define your target market and know what makes your customers unique: research your current customer base, use social media analytics, and review your competition. 

Every successful influencer marketing campaign starts with identifying goals. Ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve with the campaign: do you want to build brand affinity, drive sales, encourage video views, or spark a conversation? Use this influencer marketing checklist to make sure you have done your homework before moving into the nuts and bolts of campaign management.

Finally, know that however much you plan, there’s always more to learn. Influencer marketing is a rapidly-evolving industry, and with every campaign comes the opportunity to improve future strategies. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danielle Wiley

Danielle is the founder and CEO of Sway Group, an influencer marketing agency with a proven track record of successful campaigns. Sway Group’s best-in-class influencer storytelling and media yields 2x the industry engagement rate on Instagram. With nearly 25 years of industry experience, Danielle is widely recognized as an industry leader in content marketing, influencer marketing and social media strategy.

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