This year there were plenty of new phrases that exploded in popularity thanks to social media – from lit to woke to slay and salty – but one term recently popped up to perfectly define our internet culture: OK boomer.
According to Dictionary.com, “OK boomer is a viral internet slang phrase used, often in a humorous or ironic manner, to call out or dismiss out-of-touch or close-minded opinions associated with the baby boomer generation and older people more generally.”
The phrase “OK boomer” went viral across Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and more as teens and millennials voiced their frustrations with the boomer generation who “just don’t get it.” It’s a “rallying cry for millions of fed up kids,” according to The New York Times.
At Sprinklr, OK boomer is the epitome of what we call the “modern customer.” The people using OK boomer are the consumers who are tired of those that are out of touch or condescending. OK boomer is a cry of frustration from a generation that wants to be understood and heard – and when they aren’t, the response is swift and loud.
What OK Boomer Means for Brands
For brands, the popularity of OK boomer is a sharp reminder that consumers need you to listen to them, learn from them and reach out to them on their terms.
It is typical for a younger generation to lament that the older generation doesn’t “get” them. However, what’s new and important to note about OK boomer is the way the phrase spread rapidly across social media channels. In the past, this phrase might have been word of mouth or shared in small circles online. But Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit and more now make it possible for an influential teen with hundreds of thousands of followers to spread the OK boomer message.
Additionally, it’s easier than ever before for people to rapidly respond to online viral memes. This ability to respond quickly can result in a crisis for brands that don’t think before they Tweet. For example, some attempts to respond to the meme have come across as completely out of touch and even offensive. This highlights a key lesson – people (and brands) need to listen before engaging.
According to Vox, “In the end, the debate around OK boomer might be another iteration of the endless parade of internet-fueled ideological debates in which neither side is listening to the other.”
If brands want to build strong relationships with consumers – especially those using OK boomer – they need to start with listening.
Sprinklr Data Analysis of OK Boomer
The foundation of Sprinklr’s enterprise software platform is built on listening. We help brands listen to public customer conversations from 23 social channels, 11 messaging channels, blogs, and review sites. Then, we turn this data into actionable insights.
After listening to “OK boomer” and #OKboomer mentions from January 1st 2019, we found the following data:
From January 1, 2019 to December 22, 2019, total reach for “OK Boomer” or #OKboomer mentions surpassed 11 million. This refers to the number of people who have seen this phrase across Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, blog and news sites.
The most popular Twitter post (ranked by engagement) is CNN’s tweet on November 7th about 25-year-old New Zealand lawmaker Chlöe Swarbrick, who said “OK boomer” when she was heckled by an older member of Parliament while giving a speech for a climate crisis bill.
News that Fox filed a trademark application for “OK boomer” in order to launch a reality, comedy or game show also resulted in strong engagement, particularly on Twitter.
Top brands that are jumping into the “OK boomer” conversation using humor are Netflix and Natural Light. Both brands did a good job at knowing their audience, understanding their humor and publishing relevant content. On Instagram, Netflix published a meme from its Nickelodeon show “Sam and Cat” with the phrase OK boomer. On Twitter, Natural Light used OK boomer to poke fun at Miller Lite, a beer brand that took a break from social media to explain that it was better to spend time with people in real life.
The memes, social media posts, songs and even “ok boomer” sweatshirts are all reminders that people want their voice to be heard. Now more than ever, consumers feel that their personal beliefs matter when it comes to the brands they support. This relates directly to the products they buy and the services they rely on every day. Brands that will have long-term success are already listening to this generation, learning from them, and using these insights to create personalized experiences.
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