Sprout Social recently published their Q4 2017 Index on Moments & Milestones: UGC, Brands & Emotional Touchpoints on Social. They surveyed over 1,200 consumers to find out some new insight about user generated content and consumer willingness to engage with brands.

It’s not surprising that the majority of people today share their major life events on social media. We love to share special moments like birthdays, holidays, and vacations with others. According to the Sprout report, 79% of people share their life milestones with friends and family via social media. 94% said they primarily used Facebook, followed by Instagram at 39% and Snapchat at 27%.

According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report, “recommendations from friends and family remain the most credible form of advertising for 83% of today’s consumers.” If a relative recommends a brand or product to you, you will probably be more willing to trust and try it than if you just had simply seen a Facebook ad for it. Personal experiences are valuable. Where do we go to share these  personal life experiences? Social media, of course!

When it comes to planning our major live events, most people consult Facebook. We value the recommendations our friends can personally give us. More than half of consumers said they turn to this platform when researching life milestones, followed in popularity by Pinterest, which is known for helping with event plans. Just type in ‘wedding’ on Pinterest to see thousands upon thousands of‘pins’ to help create the most magical wedding experiences.

The Sprout Social report also found that, “nearly half of consumers have made a purchase for a milestone after seeing that product, service or brand on social.” When broken down by generation, millennials are most likely to do this (58%), followed by 45% of Gen Xers and 24% of Baby Boomers. This information teaches us that young consumers heavily rely on social platforms when it comes to preparation for major life milestones. If we see a brand on social media, we are way more likely to purchase from that brand for a major life event.

But what happens after the big event is over? Do people really continue the social experience after their milestone? The Sprout Social research says, yes. Even after the special day is over, 79% of consumers continue to share their events with friends and family on social media. Facebook’s effort to encourage life milestone sharing was to boost posts that included the word “congratulations.” This News Feed Algorithm feature helped raise engagement on major life event posts.

What kinds of life milestones are deemed worthy of social sharing? How do people decide what is “Pinterest-perfect or ‘Insta-worthy’”? 66% of consumers said that they would likely post about holiday celebrations, followed by 60% of people for travel milestones and vacations. Next came family milestones (59%) and relationship milestones (58%).

Brands have a special place in this social event sharing scene. According to the research, people are more likely to mention a specific brand when sharing on social media when it comes to holiday celebrations, travel/vacation, and personal milestones. Studies indicate that “nearly 1 in 3 (29%) people say they’d incorporate a brand in even more intimate moments like engagements or weddings, family milestones like having a baby (30%) and posts about buying a home or relocating (30%).”

The Sprout Social publication goes on to describe the reasons why consumers share their life milestones on social. The number one reason is wanting the network to to celebrate with them. This was followed by “43% of people wanting purely to inform, and 42% want to share because they want to provide helpful information to others.”

When it comes to responding to UGC, what do consumers really want? Sprout Social says that the desired response is split: 45% of people want a brand to like or comment on their post, and 45% of people want an offer discount/coupon. Some consumers also desire a share on the brand’s page, or an entry to a contest. One of the best ways to engage with consumers on social and to encourage more sharing is for brands to like, share, and comment on UGC posts. Millennials especially crave engagement and recognition from brands on social media.

It’s important to consider the reasoning behind consumer posts about specific brands when it comes to major life events. Half of the surveyed people in the Sprout report said they would recommend a brand in a life milestone post. Millennials in particular like to say ‘thanks’ to a brand in a social post.

All of this new information from the Sprout Social publication helps us to identify the social behaviors of consumers when it comes to life milestones and UGC sharing.