Capital Markets Corporate

May 31, 2019

Social media fails to influence millennials’ views of financial success


It goes without saying that millennials are the most connected generation to date. As a whole, they spend more time online and are highly invested in social media networks, which, subsequently, have become entrenched within our social structures.

As social media sites began to rise to fame in the early 2000s, young millennials made up the vast majority of users growing up with them. Consequently, many financial services firms are spending a lot of time and effort attempting to communicate and advise their younger target audience via social media. But is it the right medium to engage millennials?

50 days a year on the Internet

Checking one’s social feeds, is, for some millennials, as vital as a morning coffee. They scan Instagram or Facebook and judge their own lives against the dream holiday photos and new cars that pepper celebrities’ feeds. In doing so they may actually be actively sabotaging their own finances.

A study recently found that amongst every income group, people who reported making frequent, upward comparisons also reported having “more debt, lower savings, higher stress levels, and lower satisfaction with their own situation than people who compared themselves with those less fortunate”. When asked about the emotions they experienced in their own financial lives, people who compared upward were experiencing significantly more negative feelings than those who did not.

Alarmingly, a recent Ofcom study found that people are now spending 50 full days a year on the internet, including a week on Facebook and a week on YouTube, giving millennials plenty of time to worry about what they do not have.

Bearing this in mind, it makes sense to presume that millennials are looking to the same social media channels to find solutions to help them achieve the kind of finances their favourite social media stars are perceived to enjoy.

Exposing millennial social media truths

Perhaps not. Our research, as part of our recent Who’s Caught The Millennial Bug report shows that, despite the common assumption that younger generations are consumed by the pressure placed upon them by social media culture, only 8% of millennials feel that social media influences their view of financial success the most, with the lifestyle of celebrities even less important at 6%.

In fact, 78% of millennials are predominantly influenced by their own goals and ambitions for the future, or by their partner’s or children’s needs or expectations (33%).

Our research also found that very few millennials place importance on financial services firm’s social media accounts with just 8% refusing to use a provider if they don’t have these in place. Millennials are far more driven by their own goals and aspirations than by social media – firms that demonstrate they will support millennials every step of the way towards achieving their goals with tailor-made products and advice are likely to have more success in reaching this target audience.

Social is just one of many channels

While social media may play a crucial role in the growth and evolution of many consumer-facing companies, our research demonstrates that financial services-led social media doesn’t quite have the same appeal to millennials as perhaps previously thought.

Clearly, marketing to this generation takes more than tweeting. It requires empathy and understanding of their life stages, tweaking channels or messaging to target the individual, and better appealing to their values of wellbeing — in order to forge deeper, more profitable relationships into the future.