As millennials reduce their social media use, what does that mean for marketers?


Social media has been as divisive as it is popular since Facebook first exploded onto the scene. But now that we’re not all simply gawping at a shiny new toy, what is the value of it to brands and businesses in 2019?

A recent survey by globalwebindex showed a number of interesting trends when it comes to consumer use of social media. While its original function was, in broad terms, social (staying in touch with friends and family), figures show that for 51% of those surveyed it’s now a platform on which to consume entertaining content.

Furthermore, 48% clicked on posts to read news articles and 37% used it to listen to/found music. More than a quarter also purchased a product or service via social media. In short, social media is used as a ‘sensory extension’ where we can see, learn, buy and recommend products and services. No real news there to anyone who actually uses the platforms.

However, at the same time, there is a noticeable effort being made by individuals to reduce the time they spend on social media. This is driven largely by health and wellbeing. It’s also connected to the increasing mistrust generated by the sense that we are not in control of what we see on our feeds courtesy of paid promotions. In particular, Generation Z and millennials are ahead in making a conscious effort to decrease time spent on social media.

So what can marketers take from these trends? Should we see it as a negative? The general phasing out of the marketing equivalent of a shooting star? Far from it.

What it does mean is that we need to be more strategic. More purposeful. Maybe even more mindful in the way we use social media as part of a suite of marketing tools.

Form and function

While the past 10 years have seen social media dominate and often blindside marketing teams, we are now in a position to step back and consider its function a little more carefully. That means from both a consumer and brand perspective.

We are all familiar with being too busy, having too much to do and having too much information hurled at us. We all know what it’s like to be a consumer. So when it comes to marketing on social media, there are two clear approaches that resonate. Clear, direct calls to action that solve a personal need, or brand awareness via storytelling and entertainment.

Neither of these are groundbreaking concepts, but many a brand falls foul of these very simple objectives. There needs to be a clear directive and communication between sales and marketing – both of which have their own clearly defined functions as well.

So, once that’s clear, what next?

Content is still king if you use it properly

A clearly defined remit allows for the possibility to be really thoughtful about how you develop your marketing, social and content strategies.

Last week we talked about Hiut Denim, whose highly popular e-newsletter includes all editorial and entertainment material and zero sales. We have seen other brands offering exemplary and creative content as well from Mr Porter and their magazine to the storytelling Christmas adverts from the UK’s well known John Lewis and the succinct multi-billion dollar success, Just Do It from Nike.

So no, we don’t think the changes in social media trends are a bad thing. We think they’re galvanising. The question is, what are you going to do about it?