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Research highlights similarities between US and UK social media users’ behaviors

by robert blake

August 3, 2022

Understanding consumer behaviors and attitudes is critical for advertisers to engage meaningfully with their audience. In our latest global research we reveal how consumers are engaging with the main social media platforms - YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Meta.*

What immediately stood out were the similarities between US and UK consumers’ behaviors. Similarities mean that advertisers can create impactful campaigns, leveraging learnings from both sides of the pond. We also looked at the different generations and which platforms they use the most, how they’re viewing and sharing ads, and their social shopping preferences.

It is all about ‘YoungTube’ for Gen Z

Overall, YouTube has proved to be the most used platform by both UK and US consumers (88% and 89% respectively). In the UK, YouTube is the number one platform of choice for Gen Z, being used by 93% of consumers.

Whilst YouTube is the most popular platform in the US across all generations, with Meta nipping at its heels, Millennials are the generation using YouTube the most (93%). TikTok and Snapchat are still lagging behind in both markets, so for advertisers looking for a broad reach on social media in both the UK and US, YouTube and Meta are the platforms to plump for.

Snap up shares on social

If we look at habits for sharing a brand’s video ad in the UK, interesting differences emerge across the three generations. Gen Z mainly share ads that they consider funny (59%) or creative (57%). It appears that for the youngest generation sharing represents a way of expressing themselves to family and friends. Millennials and Gen X, on the other hand, share ads especially when they think the content will be relevant to their friends or family members. They have, so to speak, more ‘traditional’ sharing habits.

In the US, all consumers regardless of age (as with Millenials and Gen X in the UK) are most inclined to share ads that they consider relevant to the interest of their friends or family members. This is true for 58% of Gen Z, 56% of Millennials and 58% of Gen X.

King Meta, top of the shops

In terms of digital shopping, Meta Image Ads is king in both the UK and the US, with, respectively, 32% and 33% of respondents relying on this form of ‘social’ shopping. Millennials are driving the trend in both countries (41% in the UK and 45% in the US), but Gen Z are doing their part, too.

39% of Gen Z respondents in the UK and 34% in the US shop from Meta Image Ads, which should therefore be at the centre of advertisers’ strategies. As far as Gen Z is concerned, in the UK TikTok video ads enjoy the same popularity as Meta Image Ads, while in the US YouTube creator links rank second (28%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly in light of the above, Meta is considered the easiest shopping platform on both sides of the pond, with 43% and 44% in the US and UK respectively, closely followed by YouTube.

Social similarities = similar strategies?

Users’ social media preferences show numerous similarities between the UK and the US. In both countries, for example, YouTube is the most popular social media platform, Meta Image Ads dominate digital shopping and Meta is regarded as the easiest shopping platform.

Taking this into account, advertisers in the UK and the US share common ground. As consumer behavior is so similar in the two countries, advertisers could leverage learnings and insights from one market to further refine the strategies targeted to the other.

In what respect could UK advertisers apply learnings from the US (or vice versa)? The creation of a better and more inclusive advertising digital ecosystem, one that monetizes content leading to positivity and progress, should be a key priority. According to another piece of research we have carried out on a global scale, 60% of consumers feel more positive about a brand knowing they advertise in inclusive and diverse environments and 69% of consumers prefer to buy from brands committed to socially conscious causes.*

Digital advertising is grappling with some issues, such as the spread of misinformation online. By leveraging insights from both sides of the pond and applying the intel to monetize legitimate and appropriate content, advertisers can not only increase reach and maximize profits, but also take concrete actions to create a better digital advertising system.

*Our study surveyed 2,000 users across five markets (UK, US, Italy, Singapore, and Australia) and broken down into three generations, Gen Z (aged 18 - 29), Millennial (aged 30 - 44) and Gen X (aged 45 - 60).

*Launched in 2021, The Conscious Project aimed to understand how consumers feel about brands and the content on which they advertise on digital platforms. The study surveyed 1,000 consumers across the globe.

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