Just as there are developmental levels for children, the generational differences among baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials seem to align them with different social media for keeping in touch and learning about the world.

Regardless of age, gender, or even income, The Pew Research Center studies show that three-fourths of the population today uses the available technology to communicate. Clearly your audience is on social media– but where?  Here are some tips on finding the channels where you are most likely to reach them.

Act like your audience.  Nonprofits need to be sure they are using what their target audiences use to stay in touch for programming, fundraising, and general information. As you learn more about each different site, you can tailor your message to fit its requirements and audience. Most nonprofits should have at minimum, a website and Facebook page with links to each other to start the communication flowing with the thousands of individuals online.

Never assume. For example, baby boomers (ages 50-64) have used more direct contact because of how they grew up, but with technological advancements, they are moving to more social media such as Facebook. Most boomers aren’t afraid to make a personal phone call, but the options for outreach have been rapidly advanced and boomers are gradually joining in.

Choose your channels.  Facebook has its fans among all ages.  According to Business Insider, women boomers use Facebook more than men. Facebook remains on top, but Instagram is gaining ground with the teens as the “most important” social network beating out both Facebook and Twitter. The Pew Research Center puts Twitter use higher among men. They found that 22% of men compared to 15% of women use Twitter.

Professional vs. Social. However, if you’re trying to reach both men and women, ages 30-49, LinkedIn is twice as popular as Twitter. LinkedIn, the social media network to assist with career connections, is the most logical platform for communicating about your organization with other professionals and potential employees in the field. As New Place Collaborations’ Yvonne Hudson discussed on our partner site,  Third Sector Today, LinkedIn is the site to best share information among job seekers and others most professionally.

Video rocks.  About half of the generation X or mostly the 18-34 year-old demographic have used YouTube more than any cable network. YouTube was rated by Gen-Xers and some millennials as the top place to watch content, ahead of digital and TV properties like Facebook and ESPN. Trying to reach younger audiences for your organization’s events, activities, or unique appeals for volunteers or funding, sharing a video on YouTube or Vimeo may be a great addition to your mix.

Picture this. Add Pinterest as your online scrapbook to generate interest among its primarily female users. Include your organization’s event photos here, including coverage of the settings, costumes, and other creative elements Pinterest users like.

Don’t forget Snapchat, claiming a majority of users in the 18-24 year range. Surveys from Business Insider have shown that more than six out of 10 Snapchat users are 18-24. And the platform is adding new features to stay competitive.

Regardless of your target audience’s age, employ multiple ways to connect. Try a few different methods, then apply user surveys and analytics to confirm what works best. You’ll likely find that the variety is what will reach the most. Review your goals and continually tweak what makes the most sense for your time, budget,and especially your audience.

More on social media channels here in Third Sector today:

Facebook stories on TST

Twitter: Tweet Chat 101

Getting Pinned: Don’t Forget Pinterest  

Instagram: A Valid Resources for Any Brand

Social Media for Your Nonprofit: LinkedIn

Social Media Matters for Nonprofits

Why Millennials are Your Best Bet for Social Media

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About the Author: Sandy Sabot has more than 30 years’ experience in nonprofit organizations and social services working in public relations, fundraising, and event planning. She has freelanced for The Observer-Reporter in Washington, PA and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, focusing on volunteerism and making a difference. She is a  full-time case specialist for Child Care Information Services(CCIS) of Beaver/Washington Counties and worked in community outreach and resource and referral for CCIS for 17 years. Her communications projects have  included publicity and event planning for the Washington Symphony Orchestra, editing the Washington County Highlights’ newsletter, and interviewing  nonprofits about their services on WJPA Radio for the United Way of Washington County. Sandy has volunteered for many area nonprofits and currently is involved  with the Greater Washington County Food Bank and the Faith in Action program. An alumna of Point Park University, she enjoys playing the piano, going for walks, and following the Pittsburgh Pirates when not writing.