Millennials #unfiltered: Content Sharing Trends

Apr 24 2014

Millennials #unfiltered: Content Sharing Trends

As both a huge and hugely influential audience, Millennials are an ongoing focus of research at AOL. Our recent research reveals the factors that encourage millennials to share content, one of the many ways they influence others. A whopping 84% of Millennials had shared online articles/videos/links within the past month, and 1 in 3 shared content every day or almost every day. Given the pervasiveness of this behavior, we sought to uncover trends within this space.


  • More visually appealing formats rise to the top: All Millennials prefer more visual formats to articles, but Millennial men and women differ on which formats they prefer to share most….
    • Men prefer: 1) Videos, 2) Articles, and 3) Lists
    • Women prefer: 1) Lists, 2) Videos, and 3) Articles
  • A personalized twist on top of links: About half of Millennials created their own “headlines” to entice their friends to view what they shared.
  • Lighthearted content: Humor and entertainment were shared by the most Millennials, while more polarizing topics such as politics and religion were shared by the fewest.


  • Brighten their friends’ days: The most popular reasons for sharing content revolve around making a positive impact on those they know. 


  • Millennials continue to use Facebook: Contrary to recent press that claims Facebook is on the decline among younger users, Millennials were much more likely to share content on Facebook than any other platform.
    • When asked why, many said it was the “easiest” option
  • Email is on par with texting: Although email was second, they were far less likely to have shared articles/videos/links via email than other generations and almost equally likely to have shared something via text.
  • More Millennials recently shared content while talking on the phone than tweeted a link: Approximately 1 in 5 Millennials shared content via Twitter vs. 1 in 4 who had done so while talking on the phone.


Not only are these insights used for developing our own Millennial focused products & properties, they are equally actionable for brands and advertisers. Since we know consumers’ brand preferences are set before the active shopping cycle, brands need to maintain always-on engagement tactics to gain consumer trust and favorability (more on that here). To do this, more and more brands are becoming content publishers. Brands should keep the following takeaways in mind to reach the coveted Millennial audience with content worth sharing:

  • Use visual formats. For Millennials, video and lists trump articles when sharing content.
  • Highlight the unexpected. All content Millennials shared within the study had an element of surprise. Generate curiosity within the headline copy to get their attention.
  • Stay positive. Millennials share content to get a laugh or smile out of their friends. They also view what they share as a reflection of themselves. Keep your content positive and optimistic (just like them).
  • Enable customization. Develop headline copy that allows the audience to add on their own personal commentary when sharing.

These insights represent just a few highlights of our ongoing study of Millennials, highlighted on eMarketer here (login required). Please contact your AOL rep for additional information about this generation and advertising opportunities.

SOURCE: (1) Q2014 AOL “Millennials #unfiltered: Content Sharing” study/ Online Survey fielded December 2013, n=1000 gen pop adults 18+


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