How Gen Z and Millennials Use Social Media Differently

Topics: Marketing Toolkit, Millennials + Gen Z, Digital Media

Posted by: Marketing

Social media marketing matters! To truly succeed in this area, businesses must understand their target audience’s social media usage. For example, the two generations we describe as digital natives, Gen Z and millennials, use social media differently. And that divergence is important. Learn what those variations are, and why they matter.

MSSmedia Social Media Behavior




Social  Media  Usage - The Differences

Time on Social Media

Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) spend more than two and a half hours a day on social media. Meanwhile, many members of Gen Z  (born from 1997 to 2012) spend more than four hours a day on social. 


Social Media Platforms Used

In addition to spending significantly more time on social, more members of Gen Z use emerging media platforms.  Over half of millennials use YouTube (92%), Facebook (75%) and Instagram (59%), while over fifty percent of Gen Z uses YouTube (93%), Instagram (78%), Facebook (67%), Snapchat (65%) and TikTok (62%).


+ Learn more about emerging social media platforms.


Social Media Usage Style

Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to be following small business and big brands,  while Gen Z is more likely to be consuming (and spreading) social media trends and viral content. 89% of Gen Z uses social media to discover new content related to their unique passions. 74% of the people in this age group use TikTok as a search platform. More than half prefer it to Google!

Although Gen Z spends the most time on social, more millennials feel that these platforms are essential to their lives. The most common ways millennials use social media are as follows:

  • To communicate with family, friends and acquaintances.
  • To kill time.
  • To learn about new trends.
  • To get breaking news.

When it comes to content, millennials most value originality, while Gen Z prioritizes direct engagement and active responses.



“I grew up in a physical world, and I speak English. The next generation is growing up in a digital world, and they speak social. 



Social Media Usage - The Ramifications

When choosing the right social media marketing platform(s) for your business, you must consider who you are trying to reach and what you are trying to accomplish. In addition to being aware of each platform’s role in the buyer’s journey, you must also keep these things in mind: 

  • Where your target audience spends their time.
  • What your target audience is looking for from their social media usage.
  • How your target audience interacts on their chosen social media platform(s).





Whether you’re investing your time and energy in “free” social media marketing or paying per click, per impression, per action, or per lead for social media ads, the cost can add up. To get the most for your time, energy, and money, you must make sure your efforts reach your intended audience. Social media marketing allows you to target your desired audience in several ways, including the following:

  • Maintain a presence and advertise only on the social media platforms your target audience is most likely to use (or uses the most).
  • Choose to utilize social media platforms/show your ads to social media users based on the location, age, gender, or interests of your target audience.
  • Choose to utilize social media platforms/show your ads to social media users based on your target audience’s actions, both on- and off-line.


+ Increase audience reach and engagement with targeted social media ads.


By utilizing the social media platforms that are most relevant to your aims and audience, you will maximize your ROI and achieve meaningful and measurable results.


Editor's Note: This post has been fully updated as of March 2024.

Here at MSS Media, Inc., we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSS Media, Inc. a full-service, one-stop shop for all your Media and Public Relations needs. Your goals are our motivation. And our mission is to propel your message, further and faster, to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. If you found this blog post helpful, please share!

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