Instagram Edges out LinkedIn for Top Spot for Social Media for Businesses

Millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to purchase from small businesses over Baby Boomers, but they also think those businesses should be on social media

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Instagram Workest
As Millennials and Gen Zers shape the business landscape, small businesses should consider upping their Instagram game

Here's what you need to know:

  • Millennials and Gen Zers make up the largest population of the workforce
  • These 2 generations grew up with social media
  • They're more likely to purchase from small businesses than Baby Boomers
  • It's essential for businesses to have a social media presence

Social media is undoubtedly an important tool for businesses. Brands use social media to build their visibility, create better connections with their customers, increase traffic to their websites, and boost sales.

When it comes to small businesses thinking about who they want to target with social, the answer shouldn’t be “everyone.” Companies have individual niches with specific types of customers, and it’s essential to understand what characteristics those customers have.

Age is a significant trait to look out for, because each generation of consumers seems to have varying social media preferences.

Gen Z and Millenials are 2 generational cohorts that are often talked about when it comes to spending, and both are more likely to make purchases from small businesses than their Baby Boomer counterparts. While there are conflicting opinions on when the generations begin and end, many say Gen Zers were born between 1995 and 2019, and Millennials born between 1982 and 1994.

They are also 2 generations that demand a digital presence. In a recent study by Vistaprint, 83% of Millennial participants said businesses need to be active on social media. For Gen Z, it’s no surprise they’re closely associated with social media — most have never known a life without it. They’re the first generation to grow up with the internet, smartphones, and social media all at their fingertips. Nearly half of Gen Z is almost constantly online.

Both generations enjoy being social media users, but preferences seem to differ over which platform they deem best for businesses. Zenefits conducted a survey between both groups to find an answer. According to our research, both agree Facebook is the top social media platform that businesses should be on, while Gen Zers think Instagram is the next important. Millennials, however, chose LinkedIn as next in line.


It’s likely Facebook is regarded as the top social platform for businesses because of its sheer volume of users; as of the second quarter of 2019, it had 2.41 billion monthly active users — making it the largest social media network worldwide.

Its advertising is more developed than other platforms, and businesses who use it can target their audiences by demographics like age, gender, language, and relationship status. There are even more targeting options beyond those to choose from, including interests, life events, lifestyle, and behaviors.


Gen Zers choosing Instagram as the next most important channel for businesses can be tied to the number of teens who use it. 90% of teens report using Instagram at least once a month, according to a survey from Piper Jaffray.

The survey also found:

  • 35% of teens name Instagram as their favorite social media channel, compared to just 6% naming Facebook as a favorite.
  • 70% said they prefer brands to contact them on Instagram about products.

Instagram allows brands to push messages to consumers in their streams and give opportunities to shop for products in the app. The option for in-app check out comes with some major brands that are popular among Gen Z — like Nike and Adidas. These options are particularly helpful for companies specifically targeting Gen Z, since the group’s spending power is estimated somewhere between $29 billion and $143 billion.


When asked what the next best social media platform is for businesses behind Facebook, most Millennials in our study chose LinkedIn. Millennials are the group making the largest impact on today’s work culture, and also the fastest segment on LinkedIn by 3 times.

LinkedIn says a fourth of Millennials — around 87 million — use their site.

Gen Z and Millenials are 2 generational cohorts that are often talked about when it comes to spending, and both are more likely to make purchases from small businesses than their Baby Boomer counterparts.

LinkedIn has also evolved into becoming more than just a resume and job search site — it’s a place where users can network with one another, build their personal brand, and receive and post expert content, making it more suited for those who are further into their careers than Gen Z.

In addition, LinkedIn can be better for lead generation, and its users are more likely to be in a purchasing mindset from a B2B standpoint. It also offers more specific advertising for businesses looking to target users based on job title and position.

Mix it up

While “everyone” shouldn’t be a target audience, businesses may find the need to advertise to several age groups. This effort may mean having to create various campaigns or different outreach to multiple platforms, according to Mike Johansson, Principal Lecturer in the School of Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“There won’t be ‘one social network to unite them all.’ The outlook is that this will only get more and more noticeable,” Johansson said. “There’s likely to be a future not too far away where a business trying to reach people 20 to 70 needs to use 4 or 5 different approaches on 4 or 5 different networks.”

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