Millennials’ Social Media Usage: Tips for App Developers


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In her recent “What everyone gets wrong about Millennial snowflakes?” post Amanda Ruggeri from BBC calls Millennials one of the most misunderstood generations that have ever lived. Employers claim Gen Ys are lazy, self-centered and unambitious. Millennials’ parents secretly hope their children will finally meet a partner and move out. Speaking of Millennials’ partners, they struggle with pet jealousy (“He has more time for his fat cat than for me!”) and are about to give up on marriage.

In case you want to create a social media app (or a mobile app with a handful of social features) targeted at Millennial customers, you should be able to see beyond these stereotypes. The truth is, Gen Ys aren’t that different from older generations and value simple things like starting a family and having a decent career. What do you need to know about Millennials and their social media usage to attract and retain app users?

Millennials and Social Media: a match made in heaven

  • Millennials spend over 6 hours per week on social media. Millennials and social networks is a perfect love-hate story. On the one hand, young people born between 1982 and 2000 spend 53 hours per week online working, procrastinating and trying to fill the emptiness in their lives. On the other hand, they claim social media now provide too much content which is not always useful and trustworthy and seek ways to cut the SM cord. Considering the fact that fake news helped Trump win the US elections, Gen Ys do have a point there – and that’s why major social networks like Facebook and Twitter are currently experimenting with Machine Learning algorithms that filter out low-quality, controversial and fabricated content and personalize user news feeds based on their social media activities and preferences;
  • Millennial users love apps. 97% of Gen Ys own a smartphone and spend more time in apps than older generations. According to the 2016 Mobile App Report, the average Gen Y has 20 apps installed on his or her mobile device. However, it is the top 10 apps (including Facebook, YouTube and messengers) that consume a lion’s share of Millennials’ mobile time. Are you ready to face tough competition from social media tycoons?
  • However, Facebook is not their favorite mobile application. Surprisingly, 35% of Millennials name Amazon as the app they’d find most difficult to go on without. Gmail (30%) and Facebook (29%) came second and third, respectively. Younger Gen Ys are also keen on Snapchat and favor it over Instagram;
  • Gen Ys turn to social media for news and information. Recent studies show that a whooping 88% of Millennials read news on Facebook at least occasionally; the platform is closely followed by YouTube (83%). Younger Millennials (aged 23 and under), on the contrary, tend to have a more critical mindset and use a mix of 3.7 social networks as a source of information. Consumers caught between the Generation Y and Centennials often quit Facebook in favor of other social media platforms;
  • Millennials’ Social Media Usage: Tips for App Developers

  • Millennials do interact with social media content. 70% and 60% of Gen Ys who use Facebook view content posted by other people (as opposed to brands) and “like” those stories, respectively. 42% and 34% of Millennials also share FB content and write comments. When it comes to mobile apps (including social networking applications), 63% of Millennials opt in to receive push notifications. However, it is Millennial users (70%) who find push notifications most annoying – and this speaks a lot about Gen Ys as consumers (they are driven by the fear of missing out);
  • Social media impact Millennials’ buying decisions. 90% of Millennials have at least one SM account. Nearly half of those (47%, to be precise) claim social networks impact their buying decisions. They read comments and reviews written by other consumers, ask friends and followers for advice and engage in conversations with brands before making a purchase. And it’s not just Facebook that influences Millennials’ buying decisions! For instance, Gen Y shoppers are 19% and 14% more likely to seek shopping and style inspiration on Instagram and Tumbler (respectively) than other generations!
  • Millennials search social networks for digital coupons. Believe it or not, Gen Ys are prudent. Almost 90% of Millennial customers use printed or digital coupons. 54% of those are more likely to buy from a company that offers digital vouchers. And they look for discounts across multiple channels (including social media, 63% of respondents);
  • Millennials’ social media behavior is changing. 86% of Gen Ys say their social media habits have changed over time. Although 4 out of 5 Millennials trust businesses they deal with to keep their personal data secure, 52% of Gen Ys whose social media usage has changed now pay closer attention to privacy settings. Also, 37% of Millennial users tend to remove content (including photos and status updates) that they find immature and embarrassing. Meanwhile, 26% of Gen Ys report having stopped using some social media altogether.

Millennials’ Social Media Usage: Tips for App Developers

What makes a killer Gen Y social media application?

  • Connections. Unlike Centennials, Gen Ys are not really good at socializing in real life. Finding it hard to squeeze a get-together into their schedules, Millennials spend more time online – and that’s where they prefer to meet people. That’s why you have to put user profiles (public and personal), user search and invitation sending on your app scope;
  • Social sharing. Whether you’re building a brand-new social networking app or want to bring social features to a mobile game or an e-commerce application, the integration with popular Gen Y social networks is essential. A girl in her twenties is looking for a cocktail dress online on her way to work; make it easy for her to post the link to the dress she likes on Facebook and get advice from friends! A Gen Y software developer is playing Clash of Clans on his lunchbreak and running out of lives. Is there a better place to ask for resources than a social network? You’ve got the general idea, right?
  • Likes and comments. As I told you, Gen Ys interact with social media content created by other users and have no problem sharing posts themselves. And, like ordinary human beings, they crave rewards and social acceptance. That’s where likes and comments (and the option to review comments made by other users!) come in handy. IMHO, Facebook would’ve never had its 69.6% retention rate if it weren’t for the good old likes;
  • Messaging. Millennials are the first generation that has grown up with technology (including emails and instant messages) at their fingertips. As a result, they’re more comfortable with messaging than talking on the phone! According to ClickZ, messengers are used by 50% of Millennials (compared to 36% of smartphone owners in general). Give your app users a convenient and secure communication channel – and they’ll make it up to you.

Once you know what to expect, creating and marketing a product to Millennials is really a piece of cake. Unlike unreliable (and not always financially sound!) Centennials, 60% of Gen Ys stay true to a brand they currently buy. They aren’t taken in by ads, worship technology and purchase products to support a cause they believe in. As long as you pour your heart and soul into social media app development and want to make the world a better place, you and your Gen Y customers are certainly going in the same direction!

Andrei Klubnikin
Andrei Klubnikin is a Content Management Team Lead at ITRex. He writes about AI, IoT, cloud computing, mobile apps, and Digital Transformation.


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