Millennials and Gen Z are rejecting traditional brand posts in social feeds but they trust endorsements from influencers and online communities, according to a new poll.
In a study released by Harris Interactive, conducted in conjunction with Lithium Technologies, 74 percent of digital natives dislike being targeted by brands in their social feeds but they trust their networks, communities and influencers far more than older generations do.
Their frustration with traditional ads is strong. Fifty-seven percent of these younger generations said they cut back on social platforms that include a heavy paid component. Quotes in the material make it clear that these generations feel social media is for friends and messages they have said they want. The avenues dry up as traditional ads flood these venues instead of engaging, useful content.
Millennials Prefer Influencer Marketing
The solution is to engage these digital natives through the choices they have made. Fifty-seven percent of Millennials (ages 20-29) and Generation Z (ages 16-19) trust endorsements from the social media personalities they follow. 40 percent also have faith in celebrity endorsements, regardless of whether they have chosen to follow them. Of course, it’s important to distinguish their definition of celebrity. The most trusted celebrities for younger consumers draw from social media creators with whom they have built a relationship, not traditional celebrities from television and films. Authenticity remains key and Influencer Marketing campaigns with creators that have a natural brand affinity can win these audiences over.
Millennial and Gen Z trust in social networks (54 percent) and blogs (50 percent) is also much higher than that of older generations that were also part of the poll. While online review sites like Yelp or Amazon, where the content usually comes from unpaid comments, are trusted by all generations, younger audiences still have much more faith in them. In every category of online content, the percentage of younger generations that trusted the source was 15-20 percent higher than older adults (i.e., Generation X and Baby Boomers).
With these digital natives making up more than a third of the US online population (Millennials alone are the largest living generation), an alternative is in order. Ensuring brand messages reach these audiences requires establishing a relationship with them. Influencer Marketing is a key strategy for this kind of campaign, but it really only works when brands collaborate with influencers that have a passion for their products. If brands just buy time on the channels of influencers, that content will lack authenticity and feel like traditional marketing. This poll makes it clear that younger audiences will soundly reject that kind of message in a big way.