The Media in Our Messages: Holler Releases Second Annual Messaging Report

March 11, 2021

It’s safe to say that a lot has changed since this time last year. Today, we are unveiling our second annual messaging report, knowing that the events of the past 12 months have greatly impacted the way we communicate and created an increased need for virtual connection. With 42 percent of people messaging more now than they were before the pandemic, it’s clear that a new wave of messaging is here. And for all the trials of the past year, we’re excited to share more on what’s ahead in the world of messaging and how to navigate it – hint: conversational media is at the forefront. 

In The Media in Our Messages Report, we took a deep dive into how the messaging landscape has changed and how conversational media can create a more robust environment: How does a greater reliance on messaging impact the user experience? How are we sharing information and content? Where are people having their most authentic conversations? How do brands fit into these new consumer preferences?

To uncover these sentiments, Holler conducted two studies. The first was an online survey of over 1,000 adults in the US. The second we have dubbed ‘The Observational Study,’ with an intimate look at how people use messaging. For this study, 30 US adults from ages 18 to 47 gave the research team at Part and Sum permission to view their direct messages and the types of content shared across 16 different apps, followed by an hour long interview on their technology and messaging usage. These studies were imperative for understanding the broad landscape of messaging as well as providing insightful examples into the role content plays in both inspiring and supporting our DMs. 

What we found across both studies was that people are using messaging more than ever to keep human connection alive during an age of social distancing. This was to be expected, of course, but we also found a slew of insights on the how, what, when and where of messaging in 2020 and 2021:


  • Content is key: Media and visuals help people express themselves better in digital chat. In fact, 57 percent of people say they have “visual only” conversations some or all of the time. Plus, 50 percent of Millennials say they share content in messaging “all the time” to supplement their conversations.
  • Social usage shifts: In January 2020, 52 percent of people reported using social apps all the time. Fast forward to January 2021, and that number is down 14 percent. While people may be on their mobile devices (and by default their social apps) for more time, social media usage has shifted from being used “all the time” to “sometimes.” However, 42 percent of people say they use chat apps “all the time,” which shows that messaging still prevails as a popular mode of communication. With less opportunity to travel or participate in social events, we believe people are posting on social channels less and engaging more.
  • Brands are encouraged to enter the chat: With 81 percent of Millennials reporting that they would share branded content helpful to their conversation, brands can take advantage of this sentiment and provide people with the fun, interactive and useful content they crave.
  • Group purchases are coordinated and settled in messaging at high volume: When handling group purchases, 51 percent of both Gen Z and Millennials coordinate in messaging. And 51 percent of all group purchases are settled on peer-to-peer payment apps such as Venmo or Zelle. This is a major area to reach consumers with relevant branded content, especially when purchases are top of mind.
  • Content is pulled into messaging from everywhere: Information has become king this year. With people combating false narratives and trying to find accurate information on all things pandemic, politics and social unrest, content sharing is on the rise across messaging and social media. 82 percent of Millennials say they need to exit the chat some or all of the time to find a piece of content they want to send in messaging, meaning they are going to great lengths to get the content they need to support their conversation. 

Messaging was always an increasingly important vehicle for conversation, but this growth was catalyzed during the past year. Connections to family and friends have become more crucial even as they moved online, with content sharing emerging as a top priority for digital conversations. These messaging experiences are enriched with all different kinds of media - from emojis and stickers to news links and social posts. We’ve found that the easier the content is to find and send, the better. Our studies point to Conversational Media as the next frontier for innovation, with clear ways to advance the user experience. At Holler we are set on improving both the content itself and ensuring it gets to people in the exact moment they need it. It’s why our mission at Holler is to Enrich Conversations Everywhere. 

To learn more about how we connect with each other, you can check out The Media in Our Messages Report here.

Want to get in touch?
Drop us a line!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.