Social Posts Or Ads: How Do Consumers Want To Hear From Brands?

One-third of social media users engage with organic content from brands regularly, which means they either click on an ad, go to the brand’s website, or purchase a product. Not all sites perform the same. 

Data from a study released today from Model B, a tech company with roots in artificial intelligence (AI), and Opinium, a New York-based agency, shows YouTube as the top platform for brand communication.

Social media is the most popular channel for brand communications among younger generations, with 56% of 18- to-24-year-olds and 55% of 25- to-34-year-olds enjoy hearing from brands through social media posts, not ads.

The survey of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers, What Consumers Want—Preferred Channel Trends,  provides insights into the rise and the fall of trending platforms. The goal was to learn how consumers want to hear from brands.

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Gen Z consumers love hearing from brands on social media — particularly Instagram at 34%, YouTube at 33%, and Snapchat at 30%. For Gen Z, TikTok also emerged as a popular platform to hear from brands, with 28% saying they “love it.”

About 37% enjoy hearing from brands and companies on Facebook, while 19% either dislike or hate hearing from brands on Facebook — higher than any other.

While 40% of Gen Z U.S. consumers enjoy hearing from brands on YouTube, whereas 14% do not. That number rises to 66% for consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 years old.

The study reveals that 25% of U.S. consumers like hearing from brands through influencer marketing, but 28% dislike this channel for communication with brands.

Todd Silverstein, president at Model B, believes the data shows that influencer programs are often not as effective as widely thought. It typically comes from misaligned expectations, inconclusive measurement and misplaced focus on reach or wow factor, rather than an influencer’s engagement levels or connection with the brand, he said.

About 48% of 25- to-34-year-olds enjoy hearing from brands via email, compared with 28% of 55- to-64-year-olds, and 20% of those age 65 and older.

While the study may contradict the accepted performance narrative that email marketing is intrusive and overused and TV advertising is dead, the research suggests a significant divide among generations. With Gen Z taking up an increasing proportion of the customers of major brands, the preference for influencer marketing rose to 46% among 25- to-34-year-olds.

Podcast content is one of the most-engaging channels, with 33% of listeners engaging with content from brands regularly. Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram draw highest engagement across social platforms, with more than two-fifths engaging with ads regularly on each platform.

When it comes to those who use Facebook and LinkedIn, 38% and 36% respectively, engage regularly with ads.

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