Millennials are an interesting bunch. We get a lot of hate from older generations, especially in the workforce, mostly due to accusations of self-involvement, entitlement, or an over-reliance on technology to go about our lives. These negative characteristics may be evident in anecdotal situations (and, quite honestly some empirical data as well), but they leave out some of the positive characteristics, such as a stronger-than-average sense of social justice, greater incredulity when it comes to facts and information, and better tech-based skill sets.
No matter how you feel about millennials as a generation, millennials do share some traits in common, and if you’re trying to reach them through content marketing, you need to adopt the right strategies to do it successfully.
1. Do not sell
A whopping 84 percent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. Can you blame them? They’ve been bombarded with advertisements their whole lives, especially in the digital world, and they’ve witnessed an economic collapse during their formative years as the indirect result of corporate greed. They tend to distrust corporations and brands in general, seeing them as purely motivated by profit, so any attempt to advertise to them directly through content will go over like a lead balloon. Instead, use content marketing the way it was supposed to be used—to inform, entertain, or otherwise provide value to your readership, with conversions as a secondary consideration.
2. Get on social media
It’s no secret that millennials are one of the most engaged, involved segments of society on social media. They represent the largest audience segments on most platforms, especially new players like Instagram and Snapchat, and tend to prefer interacting on these channels than any other outlet. As such, they should be a main priority for the production, distribution, and syndication of your content.
3. Keep everything mobile friendly
Not all millennials are addicted to their phones, but millennials are the most mobile generation. They use mobile devices far more than desktop, and rely on online content when they’re on the go, or facing some immediate problem to which they need a solution (more on this in a moment). Accordingly, your site should be mobile-friendly, and by that I mean more than just complying with Google’s minimum standards. All your content should load quickly and easily on all mobile devices, and your efforts should be targeted specifically to mobile users.
4. Offer fast solutions
Are millennials impatient? Do they tend to favor instant gratification, or do they make more impulsive decisions? The jury is still out on these qualities, but one thing’s for sure; millennials have ubiquitous access to technology, and they know how to find information. And because they’re often on mobile devices, looking for answers to immediately pressing problems, they want their content quickly. If you want to be their go-to brand, serving their content needs and earning their loyalty, you need to present them with fast, thorough information and solutions.
5. Showcase your values
Thanks in part to their natural distrust in corporations, millennials tend to strongly prefer brands with some demonstration of corporate social responsibility. What does that mean? It means millennials will be more likely to buy from you and continue engaging with you if you have some verifiable claim to giving back to the community, or investing in an important issue, such as donating to a specific cause, volunteering with your employees on the weekends, or simply “going green” to protect the environment. Work these themes into your content occasionally to build trust, and show millennials that you practice what you preach.
6. Demonstrate social proof
Social proof is a phenomenon bigger than the millennial generation, but it’s still an important one to incorporate. The vast majority of millennials trust their friends, family members, and even most strangers over what a corporation or brand would tell them. In your content strategy, you need to use this to your advantage. Leverage the power of personal brands when you can, and offer guest spots to “average Joes,” or other authorities in your industry. If you want to go even further, you can institute some kind of user-submitted content element in your campaign. The more consumers and users millennials see engaging with your brand, the better they’ll think of you.
7. Narrow your engagement
It’s also a good idea to avoid targeting the “millennial” audience as a general niche. The strategies I’ve listed so far can help you become more appealing to millennials, but if you adopt a strategy that’s too general, your readers may believe you’re only trying to sell to them, or that you don’t understand them, or even worse—they’ll never find your content at all. Instead, narrow your engagement by targeting highly specific niche audiences, and interacting with your users on an individual level whenever possible.
These strategies won’t guarantee that your content will be resonant with every millennial it touches, but it will ensure that your content reaches this younger generation in ways you wouldn’t be able to tap with a content strategy that lacks these attributes. If millennials are your target demographics, use these strategies for greater reach and greater engagement; it may not be perfect when you launch, but over time, you’ll build more trust, and you’ll nurture a bigger, more loyal customer base. If you’re looking for more help getting started with a content marketing strategy, see my article, The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.
This article was written by Jayson DeMers from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.