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Millennials depend on social networking sites more than any other age group for personal connections and self-expression—but Gen-X adults are most likely to value recommendations about products and services on social sites, according to a report by GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI).

Nearly one-half of surveyed US adults say they visited a social networking website in the previous 30 days. Among them, Millennials (AKA Gen-Y, those now roughly age 18-34) are 33% more likely than adults on average to say they feel out of touch when they don't access social networking sites.

Gen-X adults (those age 35-46) and Baby Boomers (adults age 47-65) are less likely than adults on average to say the same, 14% and 28%, respectively.

Similarly, Millennials are 26% more likely than adults on average to say social networking is an important part of their everyday life; Gen-X adults are 8% less likely to say so and Boomers 22% less likely.

Below, other findings from the Consumer Insights Survey from GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI).

Self-expression is key: Millennials are 12% more likely than adults on average to say social networking sites give them an opportunity to express themselves.

Meanwhile, online friendships come easily to this generation: Millennials are 30% more likely to say they follow or friend someone they don't know very well; Gen-X adults are 11% less likely to say so and Boomers 31% less likely.


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Brands and Social Networking

Only 17.4% of all surveyed adults say they have purchased products and services they learned about on social sites. Among them, Millennials are 10% more likely than adults on average to purchase products they learn about on social networking sites.

But Millennials have high expectations for brands: They are 12% more likely to expect brands to have a social networking presence, whereas Gen-X adults are 1% less likely to do so.

However, Gen-X adults are 8% more likely to value recommendations about products and services on social sites—and the most likely to value such opinions across all age groups. Millennials are 6% less likely to value recommendations found on social sites—and the least likely to do so across all age groups.

About the data: Findings are from a survey of 3,366 US adults age 18+ who visited a social networking site in the previous 30 days, part of the 2010 Spring Omnibus Study conducted by GfK MRI.

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