It’s been over a decade since the first social media sites began cropping up. And just like reality TV, few people at the time could imagine how big social media would become. Consumers and business owners agree that social media is an important avenue for communication, but the value goes beyond that. A recent study from Deloitte shows that social media has a large effect on the purchasing decisions of millennial consumers.
Deloitte released its tenth annual Digital Democracy Survey. They surveyed more than 2,000 consumers in the U.S. to discover their media consumption habits and how these relate to their spending habits. The researchers found that while many young adults still enjoy consuming traditional media (though less than in years past), they are more influenced by social media than traditional advertising methods.
According to the report, nearly three in four millennials (ages 19-32) are more influenced in their buying decisions by social media recommendations than TV ads. This fact alone shows why it’s worth the effort to increase a businesses social media presence and to pay to reach people on social media networks.
The value of social media for marketing increases as the audience gets younger. When looking at a subset of millennials, those ages 19-25, the researchers found that 71 percent indicated that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews from people they do not know, which is higher than the number who are influenced by TV ads.
The study even indicates there is value in combining the tactics of traditional marketing with social media. For example, more than one-third of consumers under age 50 and nearly half of millennials say their buying decisions are influenced by an endorsement from an online personality. So celebrity endorsements can still be useful, they just don’t have to be used on expensive TV ads.
The rise of social media is connected to the rise of the internet. The increase in mobile devices and the ability to always be connected has created a situation where social media sites serve a purpose for consumers and continue to flourish. Analyst at Deloitte believed that this connection between social media and the internet can be used to create better campaigns for marketers.
“The on-the-go, always-connected consumer is driving cultural changes in content consumption that fundamentally impact how companies connect with and engage consumers,” added Kevin Westcott, principal and US Media and Entertainment Consulting leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “These behavioral changes combined with the shift towards mobile-based consumer experiences are disrupting traditional business models—while at the same time paving the way for newer opportunities for technology, media, and entertainment companies to adapt and evolve.”
There were several data points in the research that showed why and how social media was so important for millennial consumers. For example, two-thirds of millennials say they value their time interacting with friends on social media sites as much as their time spent in-person. This shows why social media marketing and endorsements can be so effective. Many consider social media interactions to be just as important as face-to-face. This means social media content seems more personable than traditional advertising.
Another reason social media marketing is so effective with millennials, and people in general, is the fact that it’s used often. Eighty-five percent of US consumers are currently on social media and 58 percent check their social networks daily. Similarly, social media sites have surpassed television as the most popular source of news for millennials. The value of social media will only increase as a generation of consumers grow up using social media as their primary portal to the world.
This research provides a lot of good information on why business owners should use social media marketing to reach their target audience. For more information on social media, read this article on Facebook’s new reactions.