What and When Millennials Share on Social Media

ShareThis-Millennials-Content-Sharing-by-Category-Channel-Sept2014Millennials (18-34) are far more likely than the general population to share content on social networks and to click on shared content, details ShareThis in a new study of the sharing habits of Millennials. Understanding how Millennials approach social sharing is important given that online shares could be as influential as in-person recommendations. The ShareThis report contains some intriguing data concerning the types of content categories Millennials typically share on various social networks – and the time of day in which most of their sharing occurs.

As with a similar breakdown of general population sharing activity released earlier this year, this latest report examines 8 content categories, this time across 4 prominent social networks. The study derives an index representing the relative difference between sharing activity on those specific channels and overall sharing activity within a specific category. (For example: 18.3% of total shares on Facebook are in the Arts & Entertainment category. On average – across all social channels – 15.3% of total shares are in that category, such that Millennials share 20% more Arts & Entertainment on Facebook than other networks.)

The results show that:

  • Twitter generates 22% more Arts & Entertainment sharing activity than average among Millennials, with Pinterest under-indexing in this category by a significant margin;
  • Twitter generates 132% more Business & Finance sharing activity than average, the heaviest activity of the 4 platforms measured;
  • Both Pinterest (+13%) and Facebook (+11%) over-index in Family & Parenting content sharing activity, while the opposite is true for Twitter (-17%) and Reddit (-13%);
  • Facebook is slightly above-average and Pinterest right about average in terms of Health & Fitness sharing activity, while sharing of this content to Twitter and Reddit is far below average;
  • Reddit (+23%) generates more content sharing about Politics than average, while Pinterest (-94%) tends to not be a sharing channel for this type of content;
  • Science & Technology sharing activity is far above-average on Reddit (+56%), but below-average on both Pinterest (-12%) and Facebook (-10%);
  • Sports content sharing is significantly above-average on Twitter (+103%), and almost as far below-average on Pinterest (-86%); and
  • Pinterest generates an impressive 283% more Shopping content sharing activity than the category average, with Facebook (-26%) and Twitter (-15%) both under-indexing in this category.

So which content categories are the most commonly shared by Millennials? Perhaps a little surprisingly, politics & government tops the list, with 47% of Millennials sharing such content, more than twice the rate of the general population. Politics and government is trailed by family & parenting (38%), food & drink (34%), style & beauty (32%), culture & religion (31%), business (31%) and technology (30%), among others.

Interestingly, younger Millennials (18-25) are significantly more likely than their older (26-34) counterparts to be sharing content about politics and government and business. By contrast, older Millennials are more apt to be found sharing travel and leisure content, as well as content in the home and garden and family and parenting categories.

Citing US Census Bureau data indicating that 35% of Millennial households have kids, the study notes that sharing activity (including via email) among Millennials with kids is more concentrated in the daytime hours than Millennials in general, and less concentrated in the evening hours.

Millennials-Content-Sharing-by-Time-of-Day-Sept2014

Indeed, Millennials in general tend to experience 2 peaks in sharing activity – one in the early afternoon, and one around primetime. For those with kids, however, the 11AM-3PM range has by far the highest concentration of sharing activity.

About the Data: ShareThis observed the online browsing and social patterns of over 58 million American millennials over the course of four months (from April through July), collecting roughly 2.4 billion social signals linked to content across more than 2 million websites and mobile applications.