How To Create Content for a Multi-Generational Audience
Is this really possible to do? And furthermore, is it a good idea?
We all know that these days content can mean many things to many people, and depending on whom you ask, you will likely get a different answer. Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, after soliciting feedback from 40+ digital content gurus, divides content into three buckets: content is information, content is experiences, and content is too ambiguous to define.
But to make things even more complicated, the top-of-mind definition of content is also generationally dependent. What content means to a Boomer, is different than what it means to a Gen Z, and every other generation in between.
As a nonprofit marketer, your goal is to create content that connects and engages your prospective and existing donor audience. But if the meaning of content differs between each generation, how do you know where to start?
The reality is that today content creators must face the following: in addition to learning about each of their audience segments and understanding how to engage them specifically, they also have to create and publish content that resonates with multiple generations. This can be tricky to do, so let's identify a good place to start.
By understanding what your general audience has in common, one can create content under the umbrella of commonly desired characteristics and use it as a compass to guide you.
According to research conducted by Fractl, every generation has an almost equal number of similarities as well as differences regarding their consumption habits and preferences for digital and online content. That is good news for nonprofits who may need some guidance on how to create relevant content for their audience.
Generally speaking, when it comes to content, what do Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z have in common? Collectively they prefer content that:
Addresses an important or relevant topic
Is useful or solves a problem
Contains attractive, engaging visuals
Is positive and uplifting
Is accessible and easily digestible
Is easily shareable to different platforms and networks
Take less than 5 minutes to consume
The chart shown above (HubSpot Content Trends) highlights the different types of content most relevant to each generational audience. Video and social postings are most popular with the younger generations while email, news articles, and research resonate more with the older segments. So, given these common traits and each generation's
specific content interests, how do you apply a multi-generational approach to creating your content?
Let's say, for example, you want to create a video. You know right off the bat that your entire audience base watches videos, albeit to varying degrees.
So the content or story you feature in the video will help influence whether or not it appeals to all of your audience segments.
How can you know what is most compelling about your organization's story? How about asking some of your donors? Identify a group of donors that represent different age groups and ask them why they give and what about your nonprofit, your cause, and your story touches them. This will give you a good insight into the type of messaging your content should highlight.
In terms of length, Boomers prefer videos that are 5 minutes or less, while younger audiences are open to longer videos, up to 10 minutes. So the common denominator here is that 5 minutes hits everyone's interest and tolerance point.
Next, what is the tone of the video, is it happy, uplifting, or inspiring? Positivity wins across generations. Is your video story or message delivered in an authentic way, or does it feel contrived, corporate, are perhaps too sales driven?
Does your video convey something meaningful about who you are? Does it help your audience understand your mission? And do you use engaging visuals and imagery that brings your story to life? If so, you just hit the mark for creating a video that will appeal to the members of your cross-generational audience.
Now do some research to determine when to post your video. Here is a hint, Millenials and Gen Z consume more content on weekends, while Boomers tend to look at social postings during the week, with Gen X'ers falling somewhere in between. So, plan to post your social content twice, once during the week and once on the weekend so you can reach different segments.
Facebook is still the most shareable platform among all audiences, and YouTube is where people go to learn. But, how about also creating a 30-second version that you can share on Instagram or TikTok, one that highlights your core message and captures attention with visually engaging images?
Determining the attributes that are important to your WHOLE audience will enable you to drill down and create content for your general and specific audience groups. And, by the way, it will make your job a whole lot easier.
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