Social media is more than a platform of communication – it is also a relationship. Understanding this relationship is part of the mystery of how to truly speak to people in the digital age.

Yet, not all of this is straightforward because it can be easy to draw broad strokes when speaking of different age groups. For example, there is a key generation of consumers that is on the cusp of Generation X and the millennials. 

This microgeneration is often seen as spanning 1977-1983 and sometimes has fancy names such as ‘Xennial’. So, then comes the question: how might this generation differ in terms of social media usage to other generations?

The Great Divide: Millennials

For all intents and purposes, let’s speak of those in the born in the 1980s as older millennials and those born later in the 1990s and onwards, as younger millennials. A lot of this also applies to the last hurrah of Gen X, or those born in the late 1970s. 

An interesting article on the topic puts this well with “the world in which we live was a very different place in 2000 compared to 2014, when the oldest and youngest millennials came of age”. Does this speak to you: do you remember first hearing about the ‘world wide web’ and how it is going to be big? Was your first mobile phone in high school or even university? Had you graduated high school before MySpace came into being?

Did You Grow Up Or Grow Into Social Media?

Studies reported on Forbes, show that most millennials are avid internet users, with more than two-thirds reporting that they spend three or more hours on the internet a day. Yet, surprisingly, older millennials find more joy in social media affirmations (e.g. people liking their posts) and report greater needs to share everything about their lives on social media. The younger millennials, on the other hand, must have other things to do with their time.

Older generations of the millennial tribe believe that posting online is akin to getting ‘mom’ tattooed on your forehead – you better be sure because it will be there forever. The younger group however understand smart work-arounds – say, using Snapchat.

Unsurprisingly, millennials are the largest demographic using Snapchat (this data can be found all over the internet), with the younger ones making up the largest portion. But, it might be interesting to know that older folks are getting the memo and during last quarter of 2016 (in the US), over 35-year-old users grew by 224 percent on Snapchat from the year before.

Perhaps it remains to be seen if Snapchat will be truly taken over by the older generations...

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