Social Media Trust Tracker – July 2023

July, 2023

As of January 2023, there were 246 million Americans on social media*, but many of us have a love-hate relationship with our social platforms — particularly when it comes to trust. Starting in November 2022, Horizon Media’s WHY Group has been keeping a monthly pulse on how much people trust core social media platforms including Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and Discord. 

Each month we check in with Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse panel to understand mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors including:

  • How important are various aspects of trust when it comes to social media?
  • How do social platforms meet our expectations?
  • What impact do events or actions have on trust?
  • Does a lack of trust equate to a lack of advertiser trust?
  • How does trust impact our desire to use these platforms? 

This is the second issue of the Social Media Trust Tracker examining March–May data, and we’ve taken a closer look at the role of age on trust and social media usage at large.

Trust has a generational gap 

  • Though older generations place more importance on trust factors than younger generations, Millennials are driving overall trust gap increases in Trustworthy Information (+6%) and Safety from Hate Speech (+8%). 

  • As the generation who relies the most on social media for news and current events, Millennials are a key group to watch — particularly with the coming 2024 election cycle. 

News continues to impact trust

  • Platform trust drops significantly among those who have heard negative news across all platforms.

  • Older users have a higher awareness of news in general. They are also more likely to feel that negative news reflects poorly on the platform, while younger generations tend to let the bad news slide. 

Despite larger trust gaps, platform usage remains steady — social media benefits outweigh negative news about platforms

  • 86% of users say they will not change — or will even increase — their usage of social media, a figure that rises for younger generations.

  • Connection remains the top reason people use social media, but younger generations are more active across a variety of platforms and use social media beyond connection, including for social engagement and commerce, as well as for information. 

  • Gen Z and Millennials continue to actively shop on social media, while Gen X and Boomers indicate they are open to shopping on social platforms in the future as their comfort in social commerce rises. 

Advertising on social platforms has potential brand ramifications beyond conversion, especially for older users 

  • For older users, lower trust in a specific platform trust leads to lower trust in brands advertising on it. With fewer everyday uses for social media, they tend to view platform news more negatively. 

  • Older generations trust brands that advertise on social platforms less than younger generations, which could potentially impact brands offline. 

For the full report, click ‘Download PDF’ below.

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