It’s no secret brands are looking for a piece of the action, and a chunk of the wallet, when it comes to engaging with millennials. And that’s a large wallet – millennials have close to $200 billion in purchasing power each year. For this fact and many others, the cohort also known as Generation Y is a much-coveted demographic. Yet despite knowing the considerable value of this unique group, few brands have discovered how to build meaningful relationships with millennials in the one environment they thrive in – social media. If you’re looking to maximize your strategy for 2016, here are five ways to win with millennials (from a Millennial) on social media.
No. 1: Be transparent (and stand for something)
The first and perhaps most important strategy for capturing millennial attention on social media is to be transparent. This isn’t anything new – we’ve been talking about authenticity in social media for what seems like eons. Yet, it truly is more important than ever – so much so, authentic isn’t even enough. Brands need to be completely transparent in order to make moves with the millennial group. Transparency and authenticity (not to be confused as one in the same) are both key in humanizing your brand, even if the subject matter isn’t always positive. Honesty is key, even if it means outing your faults and owning up to mistakes. Why? Millennials are inherently skeptical and question the authenticity of content regularly. A Global State of Content study Adobe released in December 2015, found 61% of U.S. consumers question whether even a news article is biased, let alone a branded marketing post.
Brands that are overly promotional, dishonest or fixated on themselves will have a difficult time reaching this group. Being transparent shows vulnerability and vulnerability builds trust.
The desire to “give back” is also a strong millennial trait, and most want to interact with brands that not only share their values, but also are a force for good in the community. Whether through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives or showcasing employees’ individual contribution to people and the planet, brands with a clear purpose that stand for something larger than themselves will easily attract the millennial crowd. But, it has to be authentic.
No. 2: Make positive brand experience a priority
More than any other demographic, millennials base their purchases on brand perception. How a company is perceived is a motivating factor that in many ways is more important than a quality product. If you’re anything like me, you ask your friends, read reviews, and even ask your social media audience for input before making certain purchasing decisions.
It’s no secret that peers influence each other – more than 88%of consumers consult reviews when buying online. The good news is positive “word of mouth” about an experience with a brand can go further than any campaign designed to court millennials. Customer experience is everything, and brands looking to secure long-term engagement prioritize responsiveness, reliability and customer satisfaction.
No. 3: Focus on friends
The fact is, people trust people. And people buy from people, not brands. One of the easiest ways to connect with the millennial crowd is to entice one of their peers to represent your product or service (authentically, of course – see No. 1). Influencers have so much power when it comes to marketing products. Whether they like something or not directly influences a consumer’s decision to purchase. Speak to your consumers not through your brand but through their friends with trusted recommendations.
In truth, this is an extension of No. 2. If millennial consumers have a positive experience with your brand, they are more inclined to share it on social networks. And if they share their positive experience with their friends on social networks, the effect is unparalleled and can drive more impact than traditional advertising.
Through a positive brand experience and word-of-mouth advertising, the power of influencer marketing is unprecedented. Brands looking to engage millennials need to employ authentic influencer strategies with full confidence and focus on that positive brand experience.
No. 4: Get ready to rock personal experience
Millennials are everywhere on social media. And while there are multiple ways to interact, brands that differentiate themselves will court their customers on the right platform, in the right way, creating memorable experiences.
Being savvy is about knowing where millennials spend their time. But it’s only the first step, because successful brands are also strategic, understanding not only where they are, but also how to connect with them in a way that resonates. For example, most brands know video is huge on social media. But video that’s quick and easy to consume is the real draw, and that’s where millennials are spending their time. The rise in popularity of Vine is testimony to the fact that millennials welcome video, but only in short, 6-second bites. The Adobe Global State of Content study found that when consumers had only 15 minutes to consume content (think in line at Starbucks) 63% would skim articles on trends than read an in-depth article and 57% would watch a video report on breaking news than read an article on breaking news.
“Snackable content” fits the bill perfectly. Recognize this and you’re not likely to waste campaign dollars creating and distributing long-form content no one will read or watch.
Millennials also spend tons of time on messaging apps like WhatsApp, Kik and Snapchat, creating a need for personal content that’s one-to-one rather than one-to-many. Not many brands have truly figured out the best way to use these one-to-one platforms – the most successful have explored developing behind-the-scenes content (employee features, office tours, day-in-the-life) to put faces and meaningful moments in front of their consumers (again, see transparency in No. 1). The opportunity is there for brands to develop deeper, more personal and human relationships with their consumers on these platforms.
No. 5: Understand the expectations around the Internet of Things
Finally, remember millennials are digital natives who will soon be the business decision-makers of our world. Over the next few years, many of them will require working in a business setting where “connectivity is integrated, access to information is immediate, and monitoring of activities is real time” (IDC FutureScape Worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) 2016 Predictions). Millennials, having grown up immersed in technology, know how to maneuver quickly through systematic advances thanks to their innate ability to adapt to new technology.
In 2016 and beyond, millennials will expect brands to be connected, just as they will expect seamless person-to-digital interactions. This goes beyond creating mobile commerce experiences for consumers and requires a true multi-channel approach. For example, a retail store may have a brick and mortar location, a website and a mobile platform and the consumer should be able to start the purchasing process on one channel and finish it on another. Meanwhile, the digital consumer leaves a footprint wherever they browse which enables the retailer to get a holistic view of their buying habits allowing for more personalization (and personalization is key – see No. 4!). All brands need to consider the expectations around the Internet of Things (IoT) and the fact that to millennials, this brave new world is nothing new at all.
This article was written by Lauren Friedman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Originally published on Jan 27, 2016 11:00 AM