10 Ways to Market to Millennials
The ins and outs of social media promotion and marketing can seem somewhat daunting to the uninitiated. It's also a very different world for Millennials than it is for other people. Along with Gen Z, they are a generation that grew up always knowing technology.
Their world is online, and marketing to this group is different from marketing to others.
It's easy to find yourself in over your head, especially if you are not from a generation that interacts so readily with technology and the Internet. Still, it's possible to do so if you're aware of the specific needs and interests of this group.
Companies would like to make a real impact with their content. Marketing to the millennial audience seems to be a challenge for some. Millennials live in a world where jobs are scarce and home ownership is a pipe dream, and most of them are one emergency away from total disaster.
That means their senses of humor, from food to political commentary, tend toward darker themes. Understanding this trend will go a long way in producing content that will engage Millennials and encourage interaction.
How can your business participate?
There are a few basic pointers about online marketing in general that are important to know, and then the way to target your marketing specifically to the Millennial demographic. After learning a few tips and tricks, you'll find that adaptation is fairly simple.
The world moves fast these days, and knowing some of the ways to build your audience on social media can lead to more fans, followers, and potential customers. Here are a few ways that businesses can make social media work for them.
This is probably the most important thing anyone can do on social media.
People tend to ignore those who are yelling into the void. Engaging with people on a human level helps them to know you're human, too. Nobody wants to feel like a mark who is being sold a product.
These days, it's all about engagement with the customer. A personality goes a long way in making people want to buy your product or interact with your website.
Every social media user must take advantage of the ubiquitous hashtag.
When writing your posts, one way to get more eyes on it is to use hashtags. These can be words or phrases directly related to the subject you are talking about. Don't be tempted to overuse hashtags, which will also make people ignore your post because it looks cluttered and desperate.
Decide on a word or catchphrase specifically tailored to your business, and all posts on each platform will be easily accessible when clicking it. Another strategy with hashtags is to look at what's trending and see if your business might be related to any of the subjects people are talking about.
Then you can tag your post with that hashtag as well and be seen by a much wider audience.
Consider the ways hashtags are used on each platform; they may trend on Twitter, but on other sites like Tumblr, for example, people often track tags or use the hashtag area to expound upon their thoughts related to the post.
Hashtags on Facebook are virtually useless; although they do have the capacity for hashtags, people don't usually follow them.
One way to engage with Millennials in particular is to find a fandom and talk about it, but be sincere; genuine interest will foster genuine interest in both you and your product.
3. Don't Use Canned Responses
This is solid advice for any business, but one of the things that sets people apart is their level of customer service.
A warm, real voice at the other end of the line, or online, in this day and age can go a long way to assuaging the questions and concerns of your potential customers.
Canned responses are old hat and show a complete disinterest in customer service. People dislike these in the same way as they hate not getting a real person to talk to when they call on the phone. Set yourself above the rest with actual human responses.
Everyone can tell when they're being fed a script, and nobody likes it, so try to avoid anything that sounds robotic and unfeeling.
4. Get Involved
Start following other people who pique your interest. There's a lot of communal conversation on social media, and it's better to start talking to others about what they're doing before talking about your own business.
Online culture functions in some ways that are similar to real life; for example, you don't just burst into a room and start talking about yourself.
Take some time to follow others and express interest in their goals. You'll find that people will naturally gravitate toward you and will be curious about what you're offering.
5. Stay Consistent
Nobody likes it when a social media account falls silent, and in this busy time, most people will forget about someone who stops talking. If you find the daily posting of social media overwhelming, you can set aside a few hours every week and schedule your posts to go out every day throughout the week.
It can seem daunting, but once you get into the swing of things social media can work for you.
6. Neo-Dadaism and Gallows Humor
Millennial humor tends toward the absurd. Their interactions and creative products have been labeled neo-Dadaist. This absurdist humor coupled with fatalism is the cornerstone of their online content.
Some memes are a prime example of this, but it pays to do some research and interact with a few different platforms like Tumblr or Instagram to get a feel for the kind of humor that Millennials enjoy.
7. Who's Doing it Right?
Not many companies seem to grasp the millennial mindset. The few that do have found their businesses thriving in the millennial market.
Denny's, Wendy's, and even AstroGlide have learned to understand the zeitgeist and developed ways to engage with the millennial state of mind through memes, "extreme" human interactions, and participation in fandom. This has led to far more engagement than other businesses enjoy online, because they are speaking a language that primarily exists in cyberspace.
8. Hang Out Where They Hang Out
Most young people today interact online. While many people are warned of the dangers of the internet, Millennials embrace it, forming friendships and joining various communities.
Engaging with places like Tumblr, Reddit, and Snapchat will help companies to see how people talk to each other and the kind of humor they use.
Try to get involved yourself to see how culture has changed due to the rise of worldwide communication and the kinds of things Millennials find interesting. Social justice is an extremely important aspect of most communication and it's important to learn about it before attempting to engage with the crowd.
9. Avoid Sounding Like An Awkward Dad
Some companies attempting to immerse themselves in this culture seem to misread the situation and get everything wrong, thereby resembling the dad who tries to be cool but instead inspires secondhand embarrassment in everyone watching.
Make sure you understand what you're trying to do before you do it, and that you truly have a grasp on the kind of interaction and humor you are trying to convey.
This will take some extra time and commitment to understanding this demographic, but it will have its rewards when your business is able to capture this market.
Millennials have the reputation of being notoriously difficult to please, but that is down to a fundamental misunderstanding of their situation.
They don't like to contribute to waste, they don't have much money due to the downturn in the economy, and they want to make sure what they are buying is sustainable, among other things.
10. Hire a Millennial
Probably the best advice anyone can give a business looking to tap into the rich social media lives of millennials is to hire one. Not only do they need the jobs they were promised out of college (that weren't delivered), but they also speak the language you want to learn.
If social media and SEO aren't your strong suit, it's better to have someone on your team who can help you build your brand for a millennial audience, and that is going to be a millennial by default. They can even help you translate the latest meme.
This is one of the best ways to avoid looking like an awkward dad, and it's also giving a Millennial a job, the lack of which is one of the major reasons that it's so difficult to sell them anything.
It often seems that we have collectively forgotten that people need to have jobs in order to earn the money that will allow them to buy things.
Be a part of the solution, not the problem.
Many businesses are fortunate enough to have a built-in audience.
This is not always the case for those who are starting out or who have been in business for a long time but don't yet have a grasp on the workings of advertising to Millennials. Participating in social media breaks that fourth wall of exclusivity to show that the people behind these businesses are human, too.
Content is still king, as Bill Gates once famously said, but quality matters.
The type of communication you put out into the world is extremely important when you are interacting with this group. Millennials grew up on the internet and they're savvy. If you offer them something of value, you may have found your newest loyal customers.
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Updated: Originally published March 26th 2018