What 73 Million Handles Taught Us About Millennials on Social Media

by Allison Lee, Senior Content Writer at Zoomph

It’s no secret that millennials are the darlings of today’s economy. Over and over again, we’ve been reminded that they’re now the largest generation in U.S. history with buying power in the billions. 

Therefore, we take our marketing to social media. We dutifully create handles for our brands and leverage social media to reach our millennial consumers every day.

But how are we tailoring our marketing on each platform? Who are we really talking to, and what are some traits and behaviors that separate millennials on one channel from those on another?  

To answer these questions, Zoomph looked at its database of 230 million+ social profiles and analyzed 73 million millennial handles on Instagram and Twitter. By looking at the 100 most recent posts by users in this sample group, we made the below observations. 

Twitter skews male, while Instagram skews female

According to gender researcher Rachel Simmons, young women dominate visual platforms in general. “Instagram gives you the power to modify your appearance in a way that’s practically on par with makeup and other beauty products,” she told The Atlantic.

In our study, which included 16 million Instagram users, only one to two percent of women included the word “fashion” or “beauty” in their bio descriptions. This, of course, doesn’t immediately negate Simmons’ claim, since women who value beauty don’t always endorse it on their profiles. 

However, it’s interesting to note that women in our study self-identified by their traits and core values on Instagram. “Love,” “life,” and “lover” were the three most popular bio words, used by three to five percent of studied women.  

On Twitter, we analyzed 57 million users. Men outnumbered the ladies, due (at least in part) to the types of influencers who are active on the channel (see number 5). 

People identify more by their age on Instagram than
on Twitter

Over 11 percent (1.8 million) of studied users included their ages in their Instagram bios. However, less than one percent (57,600) of Twitter users included their ages in their descriptions.

On Instagram, millennials mostly interact with consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies, music artists, and sports.

Top Instagram Associations.png

When analyzing recent activity by the top brands mentioned directly, indirectly (keywords), or as hashtags by Instagram users in our group, we observed 88 shared associations. 

Among both men and women, 20 percent of shared associations involved a CPG brand, like Fitbit, Maybelline, and Garmin International. Music artists made up 14 percent of the shared associations, with Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and One Direction earning the most engagement (Beyoncé wasn’t far behind). 

Sports teams, networks, and events came in third at 10 percent of associations. The Chicago Cubs earned the most engagement, followed by Real Madrid and Rio 2016.

On Twitter, millennials mostly interact with political figures, news outlets, and internet stars. 

When analyzing recent activity by the top brands mentioned directly, indirectly (keywords), or as hashtags by Twitter users in our group, we pinpointed 59 shared associations. 

Among both men and women, the most commonly shared association involved a political figure. Indian politician Smriti Irani received the highest engagement, followed by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. News outlets, like NDTV and CNN, were the second most commonly shared association. 

Despite the attention they received, news outlets and political figures attracted the highest proportion of criticism on Twitter—users in our sample group expressed the most negative sentiment towards TimesNow, Fox News, and Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, ecommerce brands earned the highest remarks. Listia, iTunes, and Amazon were the top-three most praised brands.

Internet stars are household names.

As mentioned previously, internet stars gained lots of love on Twitter. More specifically, YouTube stars attracted plenty of attention between Markiplier and Felix Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie), though Kjellberg announced his retirement from YouTube in November 2016.   

Though not a single YouTube star appeared on our list of shared associations among millennials on Instagram, nine YouTubers mingled in the ranks with the likes of Zayn Malik and Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter. 

It’s worth mentioning that all but two of these YouTubers were male who identified as comedians and gamers. While YouTuber Roman Atwood doesn’t post gaming videos, he still identifies as a comedian and prankster. Lewis (recognized by his “Unbox Therapy” channel) focuses on recording high-quality tech reactions and reviews, but displays a good sense of humor anyhow. Case in point: the slogan for his YouTube and Twitter profiles are “where products get naked.” 

Male or female, millennials on Twitter are Beliebers. 

Across both genders, Katy Perry, Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber were among the top-followed Twitter accounts. Six percent of users followed Perry, and the other three celebrity handles were each followed by approximately five percent of users.

Key Marketing Takeaways

Our study revealed a few ways that we as marketers can fine-tune our social media campaigns.  

  • Recognize the disparities between different segments of social media users. While our study only observed millennials on two channels and segmented by gender, you can continue to drill down even deeper into your target audiences. Social listening and tracking tools let you hone in on users in certain locations, or users with specific profile attributes. At the highest level, you can track hashtags, keywords, or mentions that matter to your brand. But consider tracking audiences by their behaviors, the influencers they follow or talk about, the associations they share, or the traits they flaunt.
  • Personalize your messaging to your consumers’ self-identified values. Social media gives you direct access into a user’s personal brand, i.e., the descriptions they give themselves and the things they want you to notice most about them. Pay attention to these descriptions along with what they talk about regularly. Make sure you’re sending messages that resonate with their interests, sentiment, and life stages.
  • Fit your brand into your audience’s natural discourse. Keep track of real-time activity in case an opportunity arises for your brand to speak directly to your consumer’s interests. However, be careful not to bend over backwards trying to make your brand or marketing too relevant or creative. Your consumers can smell dishonesty.
  • Learn from the top influencers or top-followed brands. See what tactics they use to entice your target audience. Do they use humor? Video content? Product reviews?

Social media is teeming with information about your millennial consumers. How are you using it to constantly learn more about them? 

Zoomph is a media partner of YMS NYC 2017. Haven’t got your tickets yet? Head on over to our event page for more information on the biggest youth marketing festival in the US.