Study: Social Posts Provide Clues to Millennials’ Attitudes

By | June 26, 2015

A study of social media posts of millennials — those aged 20 to 35 — found that when this group shares financial concerns online their anxiety decreases significantly even when a purchase or transaction is a completely new experience.

To conduct the study the research and analytics firm, Networked Insights, analyzed more than 18,000 social posts by millennials over two months. Using a proprietary search engine, the company searched for and analyzed online conversations on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook that contained emotional expressions signaling anxiety or empowerment in relation to automotive issues, travel and insurance and financial services.

Millennials “are the first generation to grow up with the true power of the internet,” said Networked Insights President and COO Gerry Komlofske. As such they are used to “being able to get information from others in an anonymous way. … And they are now at a time when they are buying autos, houses, having babies, looking for insurance.”

And they are having social media conversations about those issues.

Posts related to the sharing of investment tips or guides to buying insurance exhibited low levels of anxiety, the company said. But posts related to checking account balances or monthly insurance payments were found to exhibit high anxiety.

But anxiety often transitioned into expressions of empowerment as millennials participated in the knowledge sharing available through social media channels.

That change from anxiety to empowerment was somewhat surprising, Komlofske said.

“But it makes sense,” he said.

The Networked Insights study, “Millennials: Empowerment vs Anxiety,” also showed that this age group experiences less anxiety over events or transactions they are familiar with versus those that are completely new.

For instance, they may feel more comfortable buying a car than finding a mechanic to work on one, Komlofske said. That’s because they likely observed their parents buying a car and have themselves had the experience of driving one. However, they may not have had to address the problem of maintaining one, as exemplified by this post: “my @mitsucars eclipse brake light keeps flashing on as I drive. How concerned should I be for my life? #cars #automobiles #iceyroads #death”.

When it comes to car insurance, millennials may feel comfortable with the process of finding it because they are familiar with the ubiquitous ad campaigns of major auto insurers, Komlofske said.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t have anxiety over paying for it, as illustrated by social media posts like: “Sometimes I know I have to check my bank account to make sure I have my car insurance money in there, but I get so scared,” or “That car insurance direct debit causes a burning sensation in my heart.”

The takeaway from the study for insurers and others seeking to find a way to market to this generation of consumers, according to Komlofske, is that unlike for previous generations, information about the core attitudes and concerns of millennials is available online.

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