Millennials Worry About Their Digital Footprints

Millennials are careful about covering their tracks online. One-fourth of them have cleared browser history to hide content from friends or loved ones.

In spite of their own digital dawn, 61 percent of Millennials believe that technology introduced in the last 10 years has changed the way they interact with other people—more than any other generation, according to an Adobe survey of 12,000 consumers worldwide.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of U.S. consumers have cleared their browser history to hide content they viewed from a friend or loved one, and 17 percent have hidden or embellished the truth about the content they regularly consume.

However, Millennials are more careful about covering their tracks: one-fourth report having cleared their browser history to hide content from a friend or loved one.

"Similar to prior generations who grappled with technology innovations during the agricultural and industrial revolutions, we are in the throes of the transformation to digital," Loni Stark, senior director of strategy and product marketing at Adobe, told eWEEK. "What is different is that what used to happen across many generations is now happening in the span of months and years, not decades."

Millennials report spending 14.72 minutes editing content they plan to post on social media, more than the global average (13.45 minutes) and more than any other generation.

The survey also found more than half (54 percent) of U.S. consumers check that the information they post is accurate, and 37 percent first consider whether the photo they are about to post is appropriate for sharing.

"For marketers, it's important to keep in mind that consumer data isn't an open invitation to engage," Stark said. "Brands need to build trust and deliver a relevant and unique experience. Unsurprisingly, our survey revealed that consumers are most comfortable sharing their information with brands they trust, and also more likely to share content with their friends and family if they feel they have a relationship with the brand."

Stark explained 2016 will show the formal adoption of the shift from an earned social media strategy to a content marketing strategy with greater emphasis on paid and direct targeting.

Prior to 2015, social media marketers took a channel approach that mirrored a public relations, earned-media strategy, with brands posting content daily to social channels, and in many ways hoping their target audience saw and engaged with the content, she said.

"Social media can no longer be focused on channel-specific engagements where brands share creative content and hope the right customers read it and engage," Stark said. "2015 marked the start of a new era of enhanced paid strategy and direct targeting where marketers could tap into consumer data to select the right demographics, search history and past engagement to reach their intended audience. We expect 2016 to be the year of mass adoption of this strategy."