Social media users favor friends, family and other people they know when it comes to following social media accounts, according to a report [download page] from GWI and Imgur. But beyond their acquaintances, social media users are more likely to point to entertainment, memes or parody accounts as their favorite than any other type listed, including athletes, musicians, actors, gamers, and influencers.
This suggests a real affinity for humor in social media, a notion borne out by other results in the report. When asked what they most want content creators to be, respondents said “funny” (28% share) first, followed by “trustworthy” (22%), and “authentic” (14%). At the bottom of the list of 8 characteristics was “famous,” cited by just 1% of respondents as their favored trait of culture creators online.
In addition, 40% of respondents said they prefer to follow creators who post mostly funny/parody content, as opposed to just 15% who prefer to follow those who post mostly serious content. (The remaining 45% were neutral on the topic.)
Authenticity Counts for Youth
Gen Z social media users (those born between 1998 and 2004) are “spearheading” a trend towards more authentic and relatable content, per the report’s authors. Indeed, this group of social media users is steadily becoming more accepting of people saying when they are struggling (60% in Q2 2021, up from 57% in Q2 2020), while at the same time being less likely to say they are influenced by what’s cool or trendy (23%, down from 26%) or that they want their lifestyle to impress others (20%, down from 23%).
This trend has been identified in previous GWI research, also: a prior study found Gen Z more likely than others to say that there is too much pressure to be perfect on social media, that people should show more of their true selves on social, and that they care less about impressing others on social media than they used to.
Meanwhile, this latest study notes that fewer Gen Z users of Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok are using filters and/or effects on social media platforms.
Originality over Curation?
Another theme emerging from the research is a preference for originality over curation. Some 43% of social media users surveyed said they like to follow content creators who post original content, as opposed to just 12% who prefer to follow those who post reposted content. (The remaining 45% were neutral.)
Preference for content creators who post original content was particularly high among heavy social media users, those who discover brands through blogs/vlogs, and those who discover brands through celebrity endorsements, among others.
About the Data: The results are based on an August 2021 US survey of 2,026 active social media users (those who spend at least 30 minutes per day on social media).