How to Use Social Media for Lead Generation: A Primer

Deciding on the best social media platforms for your business depends almost entirely on your customer demographic, your customer personas, and the type of products you sell to those customers. To help marketers who are relatively new to social media marketing as a source of lead generation, we broke down the most popular platforms by demo to help you prioritize how to leverage your content marketing strategy and ad spends the most effectively.

Demographic Breakdown by Social Network

If you’re a relative newcomer to marketing metrics, we thought it would be helpful to define each major U.S. demographic, and the networks they frequent, to assist in your quest to use social media for business.

Baby Boomers

In 2015, the youngest Boomers all turned 50 (the group represents the post-War generation, born from 1946 to 1964). They are a potent demographic, with 70 percent of our nation’s disposable income, according to Forbes.

Do Boomers Use Social Media?

While a mere 54 percent of Boomers own a smartphone, 84 percent of them are active on Facebook. They are still traditionalists, watching real-time television, and getting their news from online media outlets. The good news is that they are frequent and avid Facebook users (especially Boomer women).

Baby Boomer Bottom Line

If you’re planning using social media for lead generation with boomers, focus your efforts on the desktop rather than mobile, and invest heavily in your Facebook campaigns.

Generation X

Gen X are the literal children of Boomers, born from 1965 to 1981. Their headcount does not come anywhere near Boomers (or their younger cousins, Millennials), but they are a powerful buying force in the U.S. There are roughly 60 million of them (25 percent of all adults), with a substantial amount of disposable income. Over 2 million X-ers have an annual household income of $250,000, more income per household than either Boomers or Millennials.

Do Gen Xers Use Social Media?

Resoundingly, yes. Like their Boomer parents, they spend most of their time on Facebook. Only 48 percent claim to use Twitter, with just half that claiming to be active. Your second stop on the Gen X social media train, surprisingly, is Pinterest. An impressive 44 percent of the network’s daily “Pinners” range between ages 30 to 44. While most of those users are typically women, Pinterest bragged as recently as 2015 that men were flocking to the network, too, with 20 percent of them joining Pinterest to follow their favorite brands.

Generation X Bottom Line

If your target market is the babies of Baby Boomers, you’ll find Generation X first on Facebook, and then Pinterest.


Sometimes also called Generation Y, they are the future of marketing. Born between 1982 and 1997, their population is set to peak at 81.1 million in 2036. They are such a massive demographic shift in terms of birth rates that they are set to overtake net immigration. As a group, they love their social media networks by a larger margin than any other single group. If you want to reach them, you have to diversify your message among several different platforms. As the first official “digital native” population, they are the most likely single audience to shop online. Because they are so digitally savvy, their online behavior is a bit more complex and diverse than Gen X and the Boomers.

While their overall time on Facebook is decreasing, they still check in every day. Their second most popular destination is Instagram, with more of this group saying they are spending an increasing amount of time on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing site. Lastly, Snapchat is becoming a big favorite, with 45.5 percent (according to a study done by RBC capital markets) increasing their time on the app.

Millennials prefer indirect ads to direct ones, so be subtle when you talk to them online. Story-based marketing tends to work well with them, as does direct, simple, straightforward messaging.

Millennials Bottom Line

With this growing group of young buyers, you’re going to have to watch them closely because their online habits are dynamic and could change tomorrow. For now, though, your priorities in terms of posts are Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Generation Z

Because this group is still so young, measuring their online behavior is tricky. Born between 1998 and 2014, these young people trend towards whatever is new, because, historically, that’s what all young people do. With Gen Z, it’s the message that matters. They are socially conscious, and they want to make a difference. They have the shortest attention span of any demo because they are used to filtering out ads and sales messages. It’s no coincidence, then, that they are the group most likely to use ad blockers and other filters to stop you from reaching them completely.

Do They Use Social Media?

Oh, yes. They use all of it, all the time, and their usage is all over the map.

Right now, Snapchat is still a hot commodity with this demo. A telling 45 percent of Snapchat users range from 13 to 24, with 70 percent of them being girls and women. Snapchat is a highly personalized app, so catching your users there is tricky. They are also posting pics on Instagram, with 64 percent of girls between 15-17 using it daily. They do use Twitter, but nothing in comparison to their older siblings and parents. For them, Facebook is the has-been of social media sites, but they check in (similarly to Twitter) to see what’s trending.

Generation Z Bottom Line

With this group, message matters more than anything. You’ll have to be creative and experiment with multiple platforms, including their parents’ site (Facebook), and other sites where they spend time daily, including Instagram, Snapchat, and dozens of other private networks that place an emphasis on visuals. They won’t fall for taglines and aspirational messaging. Make them feel like they are a part of something greater than themselves by creating campaigns that encourage social involvement, causes, and the environment (their #1 concern). If these are your people, and you’re looking for the best social media platforms for their attention, you have to watch them grow and evolve to keep pace with their changing online behavior.

References for Using Social Media for Business

The data we used was heavily sourced, and we thought these links would be helpful as you continue to educate yourself about using social media for lead generation.

We loved these two articles from Hootsuite on social media marketing

If you need help with raw data from a reliable source, PewResearch is a great go-to:

Lastly, this blog from American Express has some amazing pointers on leveraging all the extra income that Generation Xers have at their collective disposal (it’s from 2014, but many of these factoids still hold true):

We are always here to help you read the tea leaves and define a strategy that best uses social media for lead generation. Contact us here and let us give you some pointers that can change how your online audience engages with your brand.

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Share This