Study: Millennials are 30% More Likely to Trust UGC than Baby Boomers

Social Media Week

The research, fielded by content software company Olapic, also found that 50 percent of Millennials use hashtags to showcase their brand preferences to friends and networks.

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Age might be “just a number,” but new research indicates that a person’s age can greatly influence how he or she experiences earned social media content.

Olapic, a marketing software platform built to help brands collect user-generated content (UGC), has released the findings of a new study citing significant generational differences in the way consumers view peer-created content in social media.

One of the largest differences was around what exactly constitutes “authenticity.” Millennials said authentic content featured a real person using the product, whereas Baby Boomers were more inclined to associate authenticity with the product itself.

This prompt is significant as user-generated content in social media is only as potent as its authenticity, as well as how a brand chooses to amplify that content. To achieve this end, brands will offer commission influential content creators to create premium, yet relatable posts that are shared with broader audiences. Alternatively, brands can surface and utilize user-generated content within paid media – with the appropriate usage rights and credit, that is. A Curalate study found that one in five consumers are amenable to having their content used in ads.

Still, Olapic’s study found that 76 percent of all respondents – Millennials AND Boomers together – said they trusted images shared by real people (friends and family members) more than branded content. Millennials are more likely to say they trust user-generated content than Boomers (47 percent vs. 36 percent), yet a similar percentage of each group – roughly 25 percent – said they trusted branded content.

Millennials and Boomers also differed in their use of hashtags. Half of the Millennials surveyed said they use hashtags with the deliberate intention of letting their friends know which brands they like and support. Conversely, half of the Boomers surveyed said they don’t use hashtags. This is likely less about Boomers being averse to showcasing brand loyalty and more about the cultural influences that shape Millennial social media behaviors. (Havas’ comprehensive report on Millennials is aptly titled, “Hashtag Nation.”)

While these findings are not entirely surprising, they do serve to underscore the importance of authenticity when it comes to a brand’s overall content strategy. Capturing and amplifying UGC via paid channels has its benefits, but those do not come without challenges, such as covering off on rights issues and striking a desirable balance between “real” and “premium enough for primetime.”

You can view the full infographic in Adweek.

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Katie Perry

Contributor, Social Media Week

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