Understanding Your Audience: How to Age Down or Grow Up 

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November 10, 2022

YouTube is one of the most age-diverse platforms. From Gen Z to Gen X and beyond, more than 67% of internet users are on the platform. And users aren’t just consuming content from their peers. A recent report found that 58% of people would watch online content from creators in any age group. With audiences crossing the age barrier now more than ever, creators can use the knowledge of who’s watching what to expand their reach. 

And reaching a new audience doesn’t have to mean a complete channel overhaul. It can be as simple as starting a new series or making small tweaks to your existing content to make it more appealing to audiences beyond your own age group. 

Each generation has content they gravitate toward, whether that’s relatable stories, conversational yet educational content, news breakdowns, or product videos. 

And yes, it really is possible to reach everyone—from Gen Zers to boomers.

1996 – 2015: Gen Z, They’re Just Like Us

Gen Z is the first digital native generation—they don’t know a world without the internet. This cohort is always up-to-date on the latest trends and they’re quick to catch on when creators and brands aren’t. Even millennials, who grew up as the internet emerged, have been under fire from Gen Zers for their quirky internet habits. 

If you’re hoping to get in touch with this age group, it’s absolutely essential to be current on trends—one misstep and you could be the next King of Cringe (Jack Novak’s SNL audition video really didn’t resonate with TikTokers and negative comments flooded). 

But this game of chase could be a losing battle. Instead of trying and failing to keep up with these constantly changing patterns, creators can focus on authentic content that resonates with Gen Z on a deeper level. 

Beloved TikToker Elyse Myers is a millennial and a parent but still makes relatable content for the burgeoning-adult generation of Gen Zers. When creating content for YouTube, her stories of bad dates, nights out gone wrong, and simply trying to make a phone call while dealing with anxiety break past the age barrier. Younger viewers can relate to her experiences and laugh at the fact that getting older doesn’t always mean getting wiser. 

Tactics & Insights

A Google study revealed that 84% of Gen Zers are overwhelmed by their work and activities. And when they want a pick-me-up, the number one platform they turn to is YouTube. Creators outside this age group can attract Gen Z viewers through content that allows them to decompress. 

Remember, sometimes they just need someone who understands the struggles of navigating adulthood for the first time.

1977 – 1995: Millennials Still Seek Role Models

Millennials grew up with YouTube. Of all the generations, they are the most native to the platform. Because they tend to dominate the YouTube creator space, both younger and older creators might struggle to break through to them. 

Making matters more difficult is their wide range of life stages. The youngest millennials are still in their 20s, carefree and living life to the fullest, while the oldest are nearing their 40s and have begun to settle down with babies and fur babies. 

During this stage of adulthood, many millennials are turning to YouTube for life lessons. Rob Kenney is YouTube’s dad. His “Dad, how do I?” channel covers everything from how to tie a tie to how to jump start a car—basically everything a dad should have taught you. 

Meanwhile, Doña Ángela’s De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina has found similar success across generations for her authentic Mexican recipes and comforting abuelita positivity. Though her videos are exclusively in Spanish, she’s found an audience that is willing to try following along even if they don’t understand the language. 

Tactics & Insights

The secret to getting in touch with millennials isn’t anything new—it’s making interesting content about what you know and trusting that they share your interests. 

From there, adding a familiar touch or casual style to your content can help it resonate more deeply with the millennial audience. After all, Kenney and Doña Ángela have become the internet’s extended family. 

1965 – 1976: Gen X Wants to Stay Hip

Gen Xers will probably tell you how they had to write their college papers without easy access to the internet. But they’ve caught up since then. While they might not be as involved in YouTube as younger generations are, they’re still familiar with the technology. In fact, the top two reasons Gen X is using YouTube is to stay in the know and connect with younger generations. 

Independent news creators like Philip Defranco distill pop culture news with a touch of current events. For Gen Xers who might be wondering what the heck a Try Guy is or what Kim Kardashian did today, Defranco’s channel explains it all in 10-20 minute videos every morning. 

Gen X also turns to their go-to channels including broadcast and local news channels as a way to understand what’s happening across the world beyond pop culture gossip.

Tactics & Insights

With 75% of Gen Xers using YouTube at least once a month, the opportunity to reach this group is clear. Adding explainers or intros to content can make it more appealing to those who might be slightly out-of-touch.

Instead of jumping right into the latest gossip or news, take a moment to explain the background and cultural relevance. A little will go a long way to capturing the attention of this hidden audience.

1946 – 1964: Boomers Use the Internet, Too!

Hold your “Okay, boomer.” This generation’s on YouTube, too. And as it turns out, failing to engage this demographic is actually a missed opportunity for creators. As more boomers retire, they’re finding themselves with more time on their hands. This newfound time is giving them a chance to catch up on new technologies and navigate social channels. 

Still, despite their growing online presence, this generation is still widely ignored by creators and brands. And they’re tired of it. Together, Gen X and boomers have the largest share of buying power—a massive $2.6 trillion. Tech channels like iJustine and Jonathan Morrison offer the baby boomer generation a way to learn about new technologies and gadgets. Without having to turn to their kids for help.

Tactics & Insights

One in three boomers use YouTube to learn about products or services, but baby boomers are still aging. It’s important to adapt your content to be accessible and useful so that they come back for more. 

This requires two tactics: Leveraging SEO techniques to make sure boomers can find your content (they’re probably not memorizing creator names) and captioning your videos so they can understand your content. 

Video Content For Any Age

Understanding generational differences and preferences can help you unlock and engage an entirely new audience. YouTube is a home for all types of content and each topic and style has its niche. While casual storytelling and educational videos are Gen Z’s and millennials’ bread and butter, more structured informational content about current events and new products resonates better with Gen X and boomers.

As one of the most diverse social platforms, it’s important to remember that YouTube is home to creators and viewers who transcend age barriers and hone in on the content they love—regardless of who it comes from.