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How Social Media Influencers Impact Consumer Choices Across Generations

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With their expert knowledge and loyal followers, social media influencers can impact consumers’ purchasing decisions, but in what ways and to what extent?

A recent survey from SlickText, a text marketing platform for businesses, takes a deeper dive into influencers’ impact on e-commerce and the trust consumers have in influencers.

Different generations have different social media trust levels

When it comes to which social media platform has the most trusted influencers, 31% of baby boomers (ages 57 and older) cite Facebook, while 32% of Gen Zers (ages 16 to 24) cite Instagram.

If social media is taken out of the equation, about half (45%) of Gen Zers say they prefer text messaging to communicate with influencers. For older millennials (ages 33 to 40), Gen Xers (ages 41 to 56) and baby boomers, email is the preferred communication when social media isn’t an option. Young millennials (ages 25 to 32), meanwhile, lean toward blog posts as their No. 1 choice for communicating with influencers outside social media.

Reviews are the most valuable type of influencer content, respondents say

Across generations, reviews are seen as having the most value among influencer content, with nearly 4 in 10 (38%) sharing this sentiment. Other forms of content deemed valuable include:

  • How-tos (16%)
  • Everyday insights (11%)
  • Current events commentary (11%)
  • Motivational posts (10%)
  • Memes (8%)

When making a purchase, online reviews are the preferred way (across all generations) to research. More than half of respondents (52%) say they conduct online research before hitting the buy button. Shoppers also like to:

  • Read articles about the product (15%)
  • Read the company’s website (9%)
  • Watch YouTube reviews (9%)
  • Check out what an influencer in a particular niche has said about the product (8%)
  • Read social media comments (5%)
  • Sign up for a company newsletter or text list (2%)

Need, pros/cons drive consumer purchases

While influencers might introduce someone to a new product or spark interest, consumers are more likely to buy something based on the promotion if they feel they need it. In fact, 40% of consumers expressed this. Consumers will also more likely buy an influencer-endorsed product if:

  • The influencer has talked about its pros and cons (22%)
  • There’s a discount code (16%)
  • It’s apparent that the influencer uses it in their daily life (9%)
  • The product is generating buzz (5%)
  • The product is stylish (2%)

Whether an influencer endorses a product or not, online shopping can make it easier to overspend or go on a mini-bender.

To stay within your limits, set a budget before shopping online. Also, make sure to unfollow influencers and online retailers and brands on social media if you think they might be luring you into buying things you don’t need.

If you’re using a credit card, always pay the minimum balance and keep your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio low to keep your credit score in good shape.

Methodology: SlickText in March 2021 surveyed 1,100 U.S. residents ages 16 to 57+.

The generational breakdown (some of which overlap) is:

  • Gen Zers: 16 to 24
  • Young millennials: 25 to 32
  • Older millennials: 33 to 40
  • Gen Xers: 41 to 56
  • Baby boomers: 57+