Facebook Network of Choice for Millennials to Interact with Brands

Brand word on vintage car license plates, concept signMillennials prefer to interact with brands on Facebook by a wide margin over Twitter and Pinterest, according to a new study by UMD Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts.

This new study is at odds with a recently-released study by Princeton University that received widespread press coverage. The academic study states that Facebook will lose 80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017. Researchers analyzed the adoption and abandonment dynamics of online social networks, citing the rise and fall of MySpace. They claim the dynamic that torpedoed MySpace is Facebook’s destiny, too. That’s the future (or maybe not). For now, Facebook is still king.

Key Highlights:

The UMass research may surprise people with the finding that Millennials are very brand loyal and this loyalty translates into sales. While Facebook is the network of choice for interacting with brands, the study found that Pinterest has the highest sales conversion rate.

Millennials spend more money online than any other demographic group. Among study highlights:

  • Facebook is the most popular platform among Millennials when looking to interact with companies/brands online. 62% of respondents currently like at least one brand on Facebook.  Twitter has 23% of respondents following a brand and Pinterest has 11% of Millennials pinning a brand (Nike is the most liked/followed brand).
  • Across all platforms, the top reason why Millennials ‘like/follow/pin’ is to support a brand. Being unlike any other generation, Millennials pick and choose not only which information they will be exposed to, but also how the information is delivered.  By liking/following/pinning a particular brand they support, Millennials are customizing their exposure to advertising based on their preferences.
  • Of those who reported they had never purchased something after liking, following or pinning it online, offering a coupon or discount was the most frequently cited lead conversion tactic for Millennials. Respondents indicated this is the top motivator leading to a sale. Similarly, Millennials indicated that companies giving exclusive offers or appealing to their interests were more likely to see an increase in sales as a result of online interaction.
  • Relative to users of larger platforms, Pinterest has the highest sales conversion rate. The user-friendly highly visual design of the website facilitates information search and evaluation of alternatives.  Pinterest makes the transaction process flow with optimal ease for consumers.
  • Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest contribute to both online and in-store purchasing. Seventy-seven percent of Facebook users, 66% of Twitter users and 63% of Pinterest users are multi-channel shoppers.

This infographic gives additional nuggets about the study findings.

millennials drive social commerce facebook

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  1. Have a feeling the Princeton study is right. A lot of people are tired of the multitude of fake profiles on Facebook. That would be fine if they just, like other social networks, removed the ones that are reported and found to be fake.

    Having said that if my target group was Millennials I would definitely pay attention to what the UMass study found and pay a lot of attention to Facebook.

    • Catarina — False accounts are rampant on Twitter, too. It’s a huge problem for the social networks and they don’t seem to have found the answer. My target group isn’t Millennials either which is why I spend less time on Facebook than I do on LinkedIn.

  2. I’m a bit surprised that the Millennials prefer Facebook but they aren’t my target market so I don’t track them. It’s always changing, faster and faster.

  3. I found that interesting. In a way it doesn’t surprise me that FaceBook is the Millennials’s choice when it comes to brands and the support of such. What was a surprise is the conversion rate on Pinterest. Pinterest is one of my major traffic drivers for many reasons. When I think about it they are usually Millennials. This gives me some interesting ideas for how to approach each platform.

    As far as FaceBook going the way of MySpace, I think I would disagree. But then again time will tell. 🙂

    • Susan — I can understand why Pinterest drives so much traffic to your site. Your images are so wonderful. I actually gave up my Pinterest account because I don’t take many original photos and it seems sort of crazy to post stock photos that I use in my posts, although I know people who do.

  4. This is so interesting. I would have thought that Facebook was dying down in popularity, due to the fact that there are newer social media sites out there, and because it can be difficult to find things in your stream due to the way Facebook works. maybe I need to invest some time in Facebook!

    • Christine — I’m surprised that as a world traveler, you aren’t a heavy Facebook user. I’m sure your friends would enjoy hearing about your experiences and seeing photos of the exotic places you visit.

  5. There has been so much negative press around Facebook lately that I sometimes wonder if the chatter won’t create the crisis in confidence that destroys the platform. The thing is, whether people love it or hate it, they have invested there time into it and it often holds too many memories in the form of photographs and contact information for people to want to abandon. For young Millennials who cut their teeth on Facebook it has captured their lives. I’m not a great fan of Facebook, but it has it’s uses and I think it’s here for a while.

    • Debra – you make excellent points about all the content that Millennials and others have uploaded to Facebook. It’s a running commentary on their lives. Friends are at the Olympics to watch a close friend compete in skeleton. I’m following their posts and friended their friend so I could get his updates directly. No question that Facebook has its uses.

    • Pat — I’m not sure you can use a QVC code on Pinterest. But it seems like a good idea. Other Pinterest experts will have to weigh in on that.

  6. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments on our Umass study showing Millennials still very engaged with Facebook. I agree with Debra Yearwood in that this group has made a home on Facebook and while they are now using other tools, they have not given up their Facebook base. That may come, who knows? For now, I’ll look forward to revisiting this study next year and maybe we’ll start to see some changes. Thanks to Jeannette for helping us share our work and for everyone who has taken the time to comment, retweet, post etc. It is sincerely appreciated.

    • Thanks, Nora, for all your great studies about social media. They have added a lot to the conversation about social networks. If you read the summary of the Princeton study about the potential downfall of Facebook, did you agree with any of it?

      • The truth is that there is NO conflict between our study and the Princeton study. We did a snapshot in time and demonstrated that Millennials follow brands on FB now. The Princeton scientists (department of mechanical and areospace engineering) took a model used in epidemiology to examine the life cycle of diseases from infection to recovery. They use Bubonic Plague as an analogy. While they were able to fit a model to data from Google search inquiries, their conclusion that Facebook will die out between 2015-2017 seems like a stretch. I guess time will tell if FB progresses like a disease. For now, I’m comfortable saying Millennials use FB for social commerce.

        • Nora — I agree, it does seem like a stretch. I think Facebook will be around for a long time to come and your study proves that it’s still very popular with Millennials.

  7. What I wonder is if those Millennials are mostly extroverts? Seriously, Facebook gets too noisy for the average introvert. I just love it when studies conflict. To me it just means, more research is needed. Thanks Jeannette.

  8. Jacqueline — You might think about using Pinterest. The images on your covers could potentially drive traffic to your site. It seems to be working for a lot of people.

  9. I honestly can’t see people remaining loyal to Facebook if it keeps going down the road it’s been going. The changes they keep making are frustrating. I wonder what a study two, three, or five years from now will show?

  10. Dan — I won’t hold being a Millennial against you! Only kidding. It’s all a matter of personal preference. I wonder how many Millennials are bloggers?