by Dr. Liva LaMontagne
, Editorial Research Manager
As you may already know, we have conducted two surveys — one for marketers and one for consumers, looking to compare what consumers say they want and what marketers actually do — to help us build content for the upcoming MarketingSherpa Summit
In the previous Chart of the Week
, we looked at data from our consumer survey for reasons why they follow brands on social media. This week, we take a deeper look at those results to learn how motivations to follow brands on social media differ by age, gender, region and other demographic characteristics.
MarketingSherpa commissioned an online survey that was fielded August 20-24, 2015 with a representative sample of U.S. consumers.
We asked consumers, "For which of the following reasons, if any, do you follow, like, and/or connect with a brand's social media account(s)? Please select all that apply." We then looked at demographic differences in their preferences. The chart depicts results by age, but we also look at results by gender, income and parents versus non-parents later in the article.
Demographics of social media use and brand following
Overall, 85% of U.S. consumers said they used social media. Additionally, 58% of all those surveyed (1,176 consumers) said they follow brands through social media.
Not surprisingly, the older generations were less likely to use social media than the younger generations.
Broken down, 74% of people aged 55-64 years and 71% of people aged 65 and older said they used social media, compared to 95% of 18-34 year olds, 92% of 35-44 year olds and 85% of 45-54 year olds.
The older generations were also less likely to follow brands. Only 35% of 55-64 year olds and 35% of participants 65 years and older followed brands on social media, compared to 95% of 18-34 year olds, 92% of 35-44 year olds and 85% of 45-54 year olds.
Gender also plays a role: Women (87%) used social media more than men (82%). Women were also more likely to follow brands on social media (61%) than men (55%).
Income was not a significant differentiator in social media use. However, people with incomes less than $50K were more likely to follow brands on social media (62%) than people with incomes $75K-99K (53%).
Parents were more likely to use social media (93%) than non-parents (81%). Parents were also more likely to follow brands on social media (77%) compared to non-parents (49%).
Regionally, participants from the South used social media more (87%) compared to participants from the Northeast (81%) and Midwest (82%).
Demographic differences in reasons to follow brands
Click here to see a printable version of this chart
Millennials (age group 18-34 years) are more likely than all other age groups to follow brands on social media by a significant margin for most of the reasons mentioned above.
However, for some of the listed motivations to follow brands, Millennials did not report significant differences from the next two age groups up.
Specifically, Millennials reported similar motivations for following brands as age groups ages 35-44 and ages 45-54 because of the following reasons:
- An incentive (e.g., sweepstakes, discount, gift card)
- Because their friends, family, or colleagues do
- In order to contact companies directly about a problem or issue they have with their brand
- Having seen the brand’s social media icon (e.g., in email, on website, print ad) during an interaction
Generally, younger generations seem to be more eager to get regular coupons/promotions: 48% of 18-34 year olds said they follow brands on social media because of this reason, compared to 35% of the next age group, 35-44 year olds, and 37% of 45-54 year olds.
However, the popularity of following brands because there is an incentive drops markedly from 35% in the Millennial group to 14% when age increases to both 55-64 and 65 and older.
Younger people are also more likely to follow brands because they are interested in buying their products: 43% of 18-24 year olds said they do that, compared to 29% of 35-44 year olds and 27% of 45-54 year olds.
Popularity of useful content as a motivator to follow brands declines significantly as we move from Millennials (32%) to the next age group, 35-44 year olds (24%). Several other reasons follow a similar pattern:
- Popularity of entertaining content
- Brand reflecting participants’ lifestyle
- Contacting about a good experience/interaction with brand
- Supporting brand’s charitable work
- Seeing a lot of followers
Women are more likely than men to follow brands because they want to get regular coupons/promotions (38% women vs. 27% men) and because of incentives (29% of women vs. 22% men).
Women are also more likely (24%) to follow brands on social media because they produce useful content than men (19%) and because brands produce entertaining content (20% women vs. 16% men).
People with incomes $50K-74.9K are more likely than the next income group up, $75K-99K, to follow brands for the following reasons:
- Because of incentives(31% vs. 21%)
- Because of entertaining content (21% vs. 17%)
- Because the brand reflects their lifestyle (17% vs. 14%)
A few reasons seem to resonate with lower income groups more than higher income groups. People with incomes less than $50K and $50K-74.9K are more likely than the higher income groups, $75K-99K and $100K+ to follow brands:
- Because they produce useful content (26% and 25% vs. 15% and 19%)
- Because friends, family, or colleagues do (17% and 21% vs. 7% and 10%)
- Because they support their charitable work (15% and 11% vs. 5% and 8%)
While 4% of people with incomes less than $50K and 3% with $50K-74.9K follow a brand because they see the brand has a lot of followers, just one person of the higher income group, $75K-99K does so.
And finally, people with incomes $50K-74.9K (12%) are more likely than people with incomes $75K-99K (7%) to follow brands on social media because they see their social media icons during an interaction, such as in email, on website or print ad.
Parents vs. non-parents
People with children in household are more likely than non-parents to follow brands on social media for all the reasons:
- To get regular coupons/promotions (46% vs. 26%)
- Interested in buying the products (38% vs. 23%)
- There is an incentive (34% vs. 22%)
- Useful content (31% vs. 18%)
- Entertaining content (27% vs. 14%)
- Friends, family, or colleagues do (20% vs. 12%)
- The brand reflects the person’s lifestyle (19% vs. 12%)
- To contact them directly about a problem or issue with brand (16% vs. 9%)
- To contact them directly about a good experience/interaction with brand (16% vs. 8%)
- Support their charitable work (13% vs. 9%)
- See the brand’s social media icon — in email, on website, print ad — during an interaction (13% vs. 8%)
- See the brand has a lot of followers (5% vs. 2%)
People in the South (36%) are more likely to follow brands to get regular coupons/promotions than people from the Northeast (28%). Southerners (31%) are also more likely to follow brands because they are interested in buying their products than Midwesterners (24%).
Northeasterners (22%) follow brands more because of entertaining content compared to Westerners (16%) and Midwesterners (14%). Southerners (20%) follow brands because of this reason compared to Westerners (16%).
Southerners (20%) are also more likely to follow brands because friends, family, or colleagues do than Northeasterners (13%), Midwesterners (13%) and Westerners (9%).
Northeasterners (14%) follow brands more to contact them about a good experience/interaction compared to Southerners (9%) and Midwesterners (9%).
Northeasterners (12%) and Southerners (11%) follow brands more because they see their social media icon in email, on website, print ad during an interaction compared to Midwesterners (6%).
To wrap up, last week we discovered that customers are motivated to follow brands on social media mainly by incentives, while marketers focus their efforts to attract followers mainly on producing useful content.
However, this week’s demographic data shows that different people have different reasons to follow brands’ social accounts.
On average, younger generations, women and parents tend to follow brands on social media more. Women are more motivated by incentives, as well as useful and entertaining content.
People with lower incomes are also motivated by useful content, supporting brands’ charitable work and seeing a lot of followers.
Southerners are more motivated to follow brands because friends, family or colleagues do, while Northeasterners are following brands more to express positive experiences.
Related ResourcesSubscribe to MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week
— Get data and discoveries delivered to your inboxMarketingSherpa Marketing Practices Survey: How marketers entice customers to follow brands' social accounts
(from MarketingSherpa library)MarketingSherpa Consumer Purchase Preference Survey: Why customers follow brands’ social accounts
(from MarketingSherpa library)MarketingSherpa consumer purchase preference survey
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