Millennial Social Marketing: 3 Rules of the Road

Marketing to millennials—the quirky, creative generation born between 1980 and 2000—can really pay off: these folks command an estimated $200+ billion in purchasing power.

But millennials don’t make it easy to get a message in front of them: They love brands, but hate traditional advertising. They crave authentic experiences and content while frequently ignoring well-crafted advertising campaigns. They complain about ads in their social streams, but don’t mind informative sponsored content.

These contradictions can present complications for marketing teams, but armed with the following rules, brands can elevate their social media to engage millennials on their level, using their preferences:

1. Form relationships with millennials by connecting your company to millennial values

A recent study conducted by Forbes and Elite Daily found that, “Millennials are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and–despite popular belief–do indeed develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands.” Millennials also value happiness, diversity, passion, sharing, and discovery, according to research from McCann Worldgroup. They’re deeply loyal when a brand treats them right – from good customer care experiences to coupons, discounts, and loyalty programs. In fact, 60% of millennials said that they are “often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase.”

Millennials love sharing their thoughts, brand preferences, and lives with their friends, family, and audience. Although some analysts mistakenly characterize millennials as self-involved, the truth is that they care about the world around them and the companies they choose to do business with. Forbes reports that, “75% said that it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit.”

So, be real. Showcase the values that make your brand stand out – from your diverse employees and passion for your community to your deep subject-area knowledge.

Form relationships with millennials on social platforms: Forbes reports that 62% of millennials say they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages them on social networks. (Note that brands must actively engage this demographic; simply maintaining a social presence isn’t enough). How can brands actively engage millennials? According to a recent survey, Forbes reports that 42% of millennials want to co-create products with companies. Involve millennials in product development and develop loyal customers from the very beginning.

2. Mobile is mandatory

Millennials are an always-on demographic that prefers digital media, which opens up tremendous opportunities for brands to reach this savvy segment via innovative social media communications.

Eighty-five percent own smartphones and 83% claim to sleep with their phones (Nielsen). On average, a millennial checks their mobile device a whopping 43 times per day. Two of the top social media networks used by millennials (Snapchat and Instagram) are mobile-only or mobile-focused. And even though Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr can be accessed easily via a laptop or desktop computer, most of the people engaging with these networks are doing so with a phone or tablet.

And don’t limit your reach to one device. From Forbes: “87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis. 39% are either very or completely likely to purchase a tablet computer in the next five years, while 30% are for wearable devices.”

Since millennials often have a mobile device in hand, expect that they will turn to social media to either complain about or praise your brand. And, many millennials want social customer care that responds quickly to their needs. Keep up with the latest tech to consistently engage millennials on the latest platforms: Forbes recommends investing in iWatch apps, for example.

3. Word of mouth marketing (peer recommendations) drives social commerce

Only 6% of millennials believe advertising (and some surveys put the number at fewer than 1%). However, 91% consider purchasing a product if a friend recommends it. This generation is 3.6x more likely to share as compared to other population segments, and they are 2x more likely to buy products that they share about.

More than any other generation, millennials rely on blogs to aid in their purchasing choices. Forbes reports: “33% of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to fewer than 3% for TV news, magazines and books.” Millennials also look to social media for purchasing input, and they are particularly receptive to content “written by their peers whom they trust.”

Creating “social first” content that informs or entertains helps break through the clutter. Seeing photos and other UGC provides social proof to consumers that people similar to them use, enjoy, and love your products. A Bazaar Voice study showed that 84% of millennials said that UGC influenced what they buy. Spredfast’s Experiences product enables our customers to utilize UGC to drive social commerce.

Social media assets and campaigns must be designed to fit on mobile screens, and they must involve peer recommendations or UGC. Ideally, create social media campaigns and assets that can be consumed on the go in bite-size chunks.

The bottom line: Crucial elements for engaging with millennials include an ongoing, engaging relationship via social media though unique, authentic, social-first content that’s meant to be shared. Don’t fear UGC as it’s commonly the key to this demographic’s heart. Keep your products and platforms mobile-accessible, and remember that extra effort on the front end with this demographic is likely to create incredible brand loyalty.

Patricia Marchetti's picture

Patricia Marchetti

Boasting 20+ years experience in marketing from direct mail to web design, email marketing, and social media, Patricia also co-founded and managed a start-up, where she was recognized as leading female entrepreneur. Acting as a digital business consultant to Spredfast prospects and customers, Patricia draws on her wide knowledge of social strategy, from best practices to content strategy and influencer programs.