Just 4 percent of all Americans aged 15 to 25 thinks that a brand page on Facebook is a credible source of information about the product, suggesting that such pages are no more credible to youngsters than advertising or than what a competitor would say about the brand.

According to Joeri Van den Bergh, Gen Y expert at InSites Consulting, which produced the survey, this finding is “mainly a good indication of the fact that this Generation Y is very much aware of a company’s marketing strategy. As youngsters attach a lot of importance to the opinion of their friends and of other users of a product or brand, companies should let those groups do the talking.

“When brands really use their social media socially by allowing feedback and conversations by regular consumers on their pages rather than by filling them themselves, that’s when they really become decent and useful marketing instruments. It is the only medium which allows open dialogue at no great expense.”

He says that many companies are using their Facebook pages too commercially. “But that’s not how it’s done. It’s all about creating compelling content together; stuff that is worth sharing in conversations with your friends.”

According to the research, 22 percent of US youngsters indicate that what regular consumers write on online forums and blogs is credible, as is what they are told by their friends about a brand or product (14 percent) and the opinion of other brand users (20 percent).