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The Social Media Generation Gap

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How to Reach Millennials & Gen Z on Social Media

The two most active groups on social media actually are quite different, and it’s not how they wear their jeans or hair. There’s also a stark difference in the way Millenials and Gen Zs consume and interact with social media. If you fail to understand this divide, you’re missing opportunities and losing sales. And, knowing these generations have a combined spending power of nearly $3 trillion, it’s worth taking time to learn more…

IG vs TikTok

When it comes to platforms, the two major players are Instagram and TikTok. And while you can find all generations on both apps, take note that if you want to reach Millennials, go for Instagram, and if you want to reach Gen Z, go for TikTok.

When stripped down to its essence, Instagram is about personal sharing and direct communication. You follow family & friends, brands, and celebrities. Although perusing the newer “Explore” page and discovering new accounts is one way to use the app, most users stick to watching stories and scrolling their own IG feeds of accounts that they follow.

TikTok, on the other hand, is focused on media consumption and community-based interest. You scroll endlessly through new accounts on the For You page, while the algorithm tracks your interests to sort you into niched content communities. Then, your FYP becomes hyper-tailored to your interests.

Attention Span

Gen Z is known for having a short attention span, so it makes sense that they overwhelmingly prefer short-form video content. Within these extremely short videos, if they aren’t hooked in the first 3 seconds, they scroll away. So, if you’re using videos to reach Gen Z on social media, you have to make an instant first impression!

Millennials were raised on Youtube and Facebook, so they don’t mind longer form content. They also have been on Instagram since its inception, so they don’t mind just scrolling through pictures either. They prefer the familiar, and are slower to adopt the newest app fad (like BeReal).

Curated vs Chaos

Millennials prefer curated, clean content. It shows an idealistic world, an escape from their day-to-day lives. It’s safe, risk-averse, and usually not that authentic. Think beautiful, aesthetic photoshoots with retouched models – “if you bought our product this could be your life, too!” Note: This is not stock photography – they still want authenticity, but make it pretty.

Gen Z swarm to chaotic content – think of the popular TikTok sound that is a cocktail of a Wendy Williams sound bite, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song, and some Playboi carti mixed in. They want to see brands taking risks, picking fun at themselves, and showing self-awareness. This realness speaks to our friends from the late 90’s and up. 

Reviews vs. Trust

If you do gain Gen Z’s trust, they are the most likely to impulse buy. (And although they typically aren’t financially ready to make big purchases like a house or car, their coin is more expendable.) They trust social media and influencer recommendations and often don’t feel the need to read actual product reviews. So, if you tie them in with engaging content and utilize influencer marketing, you’ll capture sales from Gen Zs. 

As for Millennials, they’re not as likely to make impulse buys without proof. Mix in customer testimonials and real reviews to your social feeds, and use this “social proof” content in your paid social ads when targeting this demographic. 


When marketing towards Gen Z, get on TikTok, focus on short video content, show your real side, and utilize influencer marketing. To capture Millennials, lean into clean aesthetics and polished visuals, play with both shorter and longer forms of content (don’t be afraid to use all 3 minutes on TikTok!), and showcase real client testimonials.

E-mail getthescoop@iscreamsocialmedia.com to learn more about our unique, custom social media packages for your business. From monthly content curation & creation to trend consulting, we have a solution for your every social marketing need!