Editor’s note: This entry was adapted from a press release from research firm InSites Consulting.
A research finding from InSites Consulting indicates that a mere 4 percent of all Americans aged 15 to 25 think that a brand page on Facebook is a credible source of information about the product. In other words, such pages are no more credible to youngsters than advertising or than what a competitor would say about the brand.
Does this imply that most companies overinvest in their presence on social media? “I don’t think so,” says Joeri Van den Bergh, a Gen Y analyst at InSites Consulting and author of How Cool Brands Stay Hot. “It is mainly a good indication of the fact that Generation Y is very much aware of a company’s marketing strategy.”
As youngsters attach a lot of importance to the opinion of their friends and of other users of a product or brand, companies should let those groups do the talking. When brands really use their social media socially by allowing feedback and conversations by regular consumers on their pages rather than by filling them themselves, that’s when they really become decent and useful marketing instruments. It is the only medium which allows open dialogue at no great expense. However, many companies keep using their pages too commercially and hope that that’s the way to get youngsters to think the brand is so cool that they will ‘Like’ anything that’s posted on the page.
But that’s not how it’s done, Van den Bergh says. “It’s all about creating compelling content together; stuff that is worth sharing in conversations with your friends.”
Twenty-two percent of U.S. youngsters indicate that what regular consumers write on online forums and blogs is credible, as is what they are told by their friends about a brand or product (14 percent) and the opinion of other brand users (20 percent). This is their top-three of most reliable sources.
Yet, while youngsters prize corporate reliability and honesty and most say they themselves are honest and reliable – 86 percent of U.S. youngsters claim both qualities – one out of every four American youngsters sometimes presents a less-than-complete version of themselves to others. This happens when they are with people who enjoy a higher social status (26 percent), when flirting (17 percent) or when with their in-laws (19 percent). About 25 percent do not shy away from occasionally being less honest with a teacher or boss. And 28 percent of the youth also confess to presenting themselves more positively than reality when looking for a new job.
“That is also an aspect of the Millennial generation,” says Van den Bergh. “Being loyal to yourself is their definition of authenticity. They expect that same honesty from the brands that they think are cool and that they buy. One out of every three U.S. youngsters thinks authenticity is one of the main positive brand characteristics.”
The data come from a global study organized by InSites Consulting among 4,065 respondents aged 15 to 25 (Generation Y) in 16 countries: the U.S., Brazil, Russia, India, China, the U.K., Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Romania, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. The sample is representative for the Gen Y population of each country.