Commentary

Milestones Are Meaningful

According to a new study from Sprout, the 2017 Sprout Social Index, humans are wired to want to share their most significant life events with those closest to them. So it's no surprise that so much of what consumers post about on social involves the full lifecycle of planning, celebrating, and sharing major milestones and most meaningful moments.

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Birth announcements, vacation photo albums, engagement parties:

  • 79% of consumers have shared a life milestone on social
  • 48% of consumers have made a purchase for a milestone after seeing it on social social
  • 1 in 3 consumers would mention a brand when sharing a personal accomplishment on social

While milestone marketing is a long-standing business strategy, social presents a unique opportunity for brands to become part of these moments in an authentic, consumer-driven way, says the report. In addition to sharing and celebrating these significant events, many people are also using these posts to acknowledge the people, products and services that helped them along the way, assuming the role of brand ambassador in their recognition and recommendations.

Brands long ago started weaving this user-generated content(UGC) into their social strategies, says the report, but there's much to be learned about what drives people to share personal milestones, what inspires someone to name a brand in those posts, and how brands can play a role in helping consumers memorialize, celebrate and share more of these major moments. Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,200 consumers to find out.

The Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report found that recommendations from friends and family remain the most credible form of advertising for 83%of today's consumers.

  • 51% of consumers turn to Facebook, ranking it above any other source
  • 42% use Pinterest
  • 34% use YouTube
  • 25% of consumers turn to lnstagram
  • Though the number increases for Millennials, with 35% of this generation using the visual-focused app to find recommendations and research.

48% of consumers have made a purchase for a milestone after seeing that product, service or brand on social. That comprises 58% of Millennials, 45% of Gen Xers and 24% of Baby Boomers. According to the report, 79% of consumers say they've used social to share a life milestone with their network, compared to 75% who have shared in person, 72% who have texted and 71% who picked up the phone.

When breaking out sharing by generations, it appears that Millennials are slightly less likely than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to share on Facebook (92% vs. 97%) says the report. lnstagram and Snapchat make significant gains among Millennials, with 53% of this generation saying they would use lnstagram to share a milestone compared to 25% of other generations, and 42% saying they would use Snapchat compared to just 12% of other generations

While people may assume that most social announcements are celebrations or brags, says the report, people aren't only sharing the Pinterest-perfect or "lnstaworthy" moments in their lives. The joyful moments are important with 66% of people saying they'd post about holiday celebrations,

  • Followed by travel or vacation milestones (60%)
  • Family milestones (59%)
  • Relationship milestones (58%)

Examining which life milestones, people are most likely to mention a brand while sharing. Celebratory milestones come out on top:

  • 47% say they'd include a brand in posts about holiday celebrations,
  • 43% in a travel/vacation milestone and
  • 35% when sharing a personal accomplishment. However, nearly
  • 1 in 3 (29%) people say they'd incorporate a brand in even more intimate moments like engagements or weddings, family milestones like
  • having a baby (30%) and posts about
  • buying a home or relocating (30%).

The report says that those same people who once tapped their peers for product and service suggestions will eventually develop their own brand affinity. And when that affinity deepens to loyalty, that's when we  see the  milestone sharing and brand recommendations-even in the absence of a specific request.

After digging a bit deeper into the overall motivations behind sharing a life milestone on social, the study found that more than half (54%) of consumers want their network to celebrate with them, while 43% post purely to inform and 42% want to share because they want to provide helpful information to others

But as might be expected, Millennials demonstrate a few key differences in what fuels their desire to share. Millennials were much more likely to want to tell their story and be acknowledged (41%), than members of older generations (27%).

  • Additionally, Millennials wanted a specific social response from their network: recognition and congratulations (likes, comments) than older generations (36% vs. 23%).

Seeing as though most of the milestones people share on social are highly personal, what would motivate them to include a brand in their posts? 50% of consumers do so to recommend that brand to others, and 34% want to thank or recognize that brand for being part of their life event. For Millennials, the desire to share that gratitude increases to 41%.

And while some of the motivation might stem from incentives:

  • 34% of consumers said that a discount, free product or contest entry would motivate them to include a brand-some want to show brand affinity for other reasons.
  • These include wanting friends and family to see them using a specific brand (30%) and because the
  • brand's values match their personal beliefs (29%). This shows an opportunity for brands to take a more public stance on their values and issues to encourage this deeper level of social engagement.

When consumers mention brands in their social posts about life milestones,

  • 45% want the brand to engage in return by liking or commenting on that content-and yes,
  • 45% are hoping for a discount or deal. But one statistic that jumped out was the
  • 30% of all consumers who want the brand to share their post from the brand's profile.

Engagement is a key component in encouraging UGC. According to the data gained from the study, people want likes, comments and shares when they mention brands in their content. But, consumers often reach out with customer service issues or less than positive experiences to resolve .

Concluding, the report says that, as social media's role as internet time capsule grows, so do the opportunities for brands to connect with consumers during some of life's most significant, emotional moments. Whether it's polling their peers for their latest recommendations, or shouting the praises of their most trusted products, today's consumers are already recognizing and sharing the role their favorite brands play in their lives' major moments and milestones .

And the more brands can learn how to tap into the motivations and emotions behind that behavior, the better their chances of connecting with their audiences and turning consumers into loyal, lifelong advocates, concludes the report.

 

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