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Millennials and Their Social Media Habits: Implications for Marketing
Friday, May 26, 2017 6:25 AM

Doug Foister, Vice President of Research, Cornerstone Credit Union League

Needless to say, social media has revolutionized how companies (including credit unions) interact with their consumers. At the same time, social media has created unique ways for consumers to share their impressions—good and bad—of companies with their friends/followers. This means that your members can have a huge impact on how your credit union’s brand is perceived among your current members and those who could join in the future. If ever there was a time when the “challenges equal opportunities” maxim applies, this is it.  

Since Millennials (18–34 year olds) now comprise the single largest consumer segment in the United States, it is imperative that credit unions understand the distinct ways in which the first generation of “digital natives” use social media. So, let’s take a look at some highlights from a recent study (Levin and Lamar 2017) regarding the social media habits of Millennials as compared with those of other generations.  

To begin, the study points out that Millennials have “largely abandoned traditional forms of media and entertainment, spending an average of more than three hours daily on smartphones.” (Kantar 2015)

The study also notes that Millennials “communicate with each other far more than any advertising campaign can. When trying to figure out whether something is worth buying, Millennials will go to their friends and social networks to see what people think.” (Newman 2015)

At the same time, it has been found that “Millennials are twice as likely as any other generation to share ads online.” (Mulloy 2016)

With these facts in mind, we’ll move now to some specific study findings that have clear implications for generational marketing.

With the exception of Facebook, Millennials are more active on other social media platforms, especially Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Facebook and Twitter may have topped off among older Millennials (25–34) as younger Millennials (18–24) are moving to other social media platforms such as Tumblr.

Millennials and Social Media

The number of friends/followers will impact how influential an individual is on social media. The study shows that 29 percent of younger and older Millennials report having at least 300 friends/followers across all platforms. This compares with 24 percent for Gen X and just 10 percent for Baby Boomers.

Millennials and Social Media

Older Millennials have a larger impact than all other generations on brand attitudes and behavior. This segment of Millennials also appears to be more readily influenced by others on social media, with 61 percent agreeing that “If my friend posts about a brand/product/service on social media, it impacts whether or not I use that brand.” This compares with 51 percent for younger Millennials, 44 percent for Gen X, and 30 percent for Baby Boomers.

Millennials (especially older Millennials) also are more likely to agree that “Social media connects me with the brands I love.” 

Finally, Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to share positive experiences on social media than negative experiences, while Baby Boomers are equally likely to share a positive or negative experience.

Millennials and Social Media

Clearly, credit unions are well advised to understand Millennials as much as possible, including their unique social media habits. Such understanding can significantly enhance your marketing to this increasingly influential segment.

Something to think about, indeed.