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New survey shows 50% of millennials trust social media influencers for brand advice

Chelsea Lombardo
Production Assistant

The influencer trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of all Generation Z and millennials follow influencers on social media, according to Morning Consult’s latest study, "The Influencer Report."

The report — which surveyed over 2,000 13- 38-year-olds — explored generational engagement among influencers, and social media platforms, finding “where young Americans follow influencers, who they like to follow, why they follow, how much trust they have in influencers, and how much interest they have in becoming influencers themselves.”

Morning Consult’s Vice President of Content Jeff Cartwright told YFi PM last week that the report’s findings point to the fact that influencers are becoming a key part of the social media experience.

“Not only are influencers affecting consumer habits and trends — they’re really dictating and changing the way young Americans think about the culture and the world around them.”

Fifty-two percent of the surveyed Gen Z and 50% of the millennials say they trust influencers to give good advice about the brands and products they’re promoting. Those numbers take place over their favorite celebrities and athletes, and fall just behind actual product reviews from websites and the news.

The study found that nearly 1 in 4 Gen Z females cite influencers as the most common medium for learning about new new products to buy.

“Why they follow these people is because they're authentic,” Cartwright stated. “They feel like they're their friends...You feel like you’re tuning in watching your friends. They’re not highly polished. They're very colloquial, conversational. You’re just captivated immediately and you're brought right in.”

And the favorite platform for following influencers?

Instagram takes the top rank among Gen Z and millennial females, but Google-owned YouTube (GOOGGOOGL) positioned itself in first for Gen Z and millennial males.

Top name YouTube influencers such as PewDiePieJeffree Star and Shane Dawson have ranked themselves among the most popular influencers on the video sharing social platform, according to Morning Consult, pulling in large amounts of cash each year.

“Jeffree Star does YouTube video tutorials, he made $18 million in 2018 on just pure brand sponsorships,” Cartwright stated. “We’re all in the wrong business.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Jeffree Star attends the 3rd Annual RuPaul's DragCon at Los Angeles Convention Center on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)

Tapping into the market of micro-influencers

Influencers are a huge market.

According to “The Influencer Report,” 86% of Gen Z and millennials say they’re willing to post sponsored content for money.

“These kids [Gen Z and Millennials] grew up on social media,” Cartwright stated. “They grew up having a personal brand when they were 5 years old. For them, the idea of being an influencer is almost as natural as riding a bike.”

Sixty-six percent of young Americans also said they’d accept money to promote a product on one of their social media channels if they liked it — with another 20% saying they would still do so even if they weren’t interested in the product.

As far as content goes, a higher share of Gen Z and millennials claimed they’re more likely to post about brands and products than food they’re eating, with 61% stating they’d organically post about the brands they like.

And the biggest motivation behind becoming an influencer? More than half of the Gen Zs surveyed said it gives them a chance to make an a difference in the world, while the millennials cited the flexible hours the most.

Still, over 50% on each side would do it for the cash.

A picture taken on October 1, 2019 in Lille shows the logo of mobile app Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Messenger are displayed on a tablet. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP) (Photo by DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)

Instagram to hide likes for U.S. users

Facebook owned Instagram announced earlier this year that it would test hiding the amount of likes a user’s post receives, and now the company is making that test a reality, with likes starting to disappear from U.S. users account this week.

Instagram Director of Fashion Partnerships Eva Chen —who’s been experimenting with hidden likes on her account — told Yahoo Finance last month that she garnered positive feelings towards the test.

“Put yourself in the shoes of a 15-year-old who spent like an hour thinking about what she wanted to post, and then when she doesn't get the number of likes, she might take it down, or feel self-conscious,” she said at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit: Generational Opportunities. “Instagram really wants to be the safest platform, and friendliest platform, and kindest platform out there and this is just one step that we're testing to see what the response is. And so far it's, been very positive.”

Morning Consult found that younger Americans categorize the authenticity of the influencers they follow over their following or likes. 58% of the younger generations feel authenticity is a “very important” trait for influencers, while a measly 10% claim an influencer’s large following carries more significance.

Chelsea Lombardo is a production assistant for Yahoo Finance. You can find more of her work here.

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