In our fast-paced digital world, we’re exposed to hundreds of pieces of content every day. Take a moment and think about how many blog posts, news articles, social media posts, and even pesky ads you’re exposed to on a daily basis. Due to this fact, and the fact that overall we are all immensely overstimulated, competition to grab and retain an audience’s attention has become increasingly difficult.
To add another layer of complexity, think for a moment about how many age groups content writers and marketers are targeting. It has grown increasingly apparent that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to curating content that will appeal to and capture everyone’s attention. So how do we cater to all generations, or even specific generations when necessary? Let’s start by deconstructing each generation and try to better understand our audience.
Out of the five generations we’re focusing on, the Silent Generation is the least familiar with technology. When the internet began picking up traction in the mid-1990s, these folks were saying hello to middle age at around 49 – 65 years old. It is estimated that only 61% of the Silent Generation actively uses the internet, and only 41% have Broadband in their homes.
This is a generation who grew up in traditional and disciplined households, and who LOVE their newspapers. When crafting messaging for the Silent generation, it’s best to keep it simple and in a familiar form. Social media and blogs are out – stick to email and simple web pages to get the best responses.
Baby Boomers grew up in times of great social change and are credited with being more open-minded and less likely to follow rules. This group was 31 – 48 years old when the internet became mainstream, and as such were more receptive to the technology revolution. They’re open to different and newer forms of communication from what they grew up with. Email marketing, web pages, videos, and social networking sites are great ways to engage this demographic.
Gen Xers have had the privilege of having internet access half their lives and were privy to other forms of technology (such as video games – the Atari came out in 1977) in their childhood. This generation helped blaze the trails of technology and shape what it is today. As such, this group is most familiar with “standard” technological offerings such as email, websites, videos, online banking, and social media. When catering content to this crowd, trim the fluff and keep your messaging clear, concise, and to the point.
Gen Y, more commonly known as Millennials, have had a computer and/or internet for most of their childhood and all of their adult lives. They spend a ton of time online and on their mobile phones. Pretty much nothing is off limits here – they love blogs, games, online banking, emails, videos, etc. and are open to products created from the technological evolution. Millennials love imagery and content that is concise and easily digestible.
Gen Z has never known a time without internet or computers. This puts them in an interesting position of being immersed in technology their whole lives and having full control of its evolution in the future. As this generation grows into adulthood, more research will be available regarding their habits, personalities, and culture. What we do know is they love social media (especially Snapchat), and they love being mobile.
Tons of research on these five generations is available online, and I should know – I think I read half of it doing research for this post. Since I’m targeting those few groups who avoid reading long posts like the plague (ahem, Gen X and Millennials), looks like it’s time to wrap it up. To find out what works for you and your audience, there’s one method that never fails to produce top notch results – publish, analyze, rinse, and repeat.
Former MetroStar Senior UX Strategist
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