CHICAGO: An increasing number of brands are deploying user-generated content in their marketing strategies, so a new study that confirms the willingness of consumers to share their life milestones on social media should prove to be insightful.

Sprout Social, a digital analytics firm, reported that sharing major life moments via social media is now “the norm” for 79% of consumers, ahead of talking in person (75%), text messaging (72%), phone calls (71%), video calls (38%) and mail (30%).

Its Q4 2017 Sprout Social Index is based on a survey of more than 1,200 people, coupled with data from 357,000 public social profiles of continually active accounts. Overall, 5.7bn messages were analysed between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017.

“Humans are wired to want to share their most significant life events with those closest to them,” the report said. “While milestone marketing is a long-standing business strategy, social presents a unique opportunity for brands to become part of these moments in an authentic, consumer-driven way.”

Among the numerous findings, Sprout Social reported that around half (51%) of consumers turn to Facebook for trusted recommendations related to major events, such as when searching for a wedding photographer.

Pinterest (42%) and YouTube (34%) are also popular choices, although more than a third (35%) of millennials prefer to use Instagram compared with a quarter (24%) of all generations.

Looking in more detail at how the different generations share on social media, the research found millennials (92%) are slightly less likely than baby boomers and Gen X (97%) to share on Facebook.

However, more than half (53%) of millennials say they would use Instagram to share a milestone compared to 25% of other generations, and 42% say they would use Snapchat compared to just 12% among the rest.

And social media is also directly informing consumers’ purchasing decisions when it comes to planning a major life event, with nearly half (48%) of respondents having made a purchase for a milestone after seeing a brand on a social platform.

In addition, consumers also appear happy to mention brands when they share their big life moments on social, especially about their holidays (47%), a travel or vacation milestone (43%) and when sharing a personal accomplishment (35%).

“Now more than ever, people are sharing major life milestones and special moments in their lives on social,” said Andrew Caravella, VP of Strategy and Brand Engagement at Sprout Social.

“When used authentically and effectively, brands can weave together people’s natural inclination to share with inspiration for user-generated content, cultivating brand loyalty and advocacy in the process.”

Sourced from Sprout Social; additional content by WARC staff