Recently, I’ve found myself wondering if social media marketers (myself included) are missing a massive opportunity when it comes to marketing to Millennial consumers. With the availability of numerous digital tools and our social media culture, it’s become much easier to interact with the 18-24 year-old demographic. Easier, however, does not mean more effective.
This morning Marc Meyer put out this Tweet:
Then, Marc asked me a thought-provoking question: How would you market to you?
Good question – one that forced me to separate myself from my day job as a marketing professional so I could think like the 23-year-old kid I am.
Below, I’ve listed several ways I’d like to see companies marketing to me.
1. Rely on Word-of-Mouth. With social networking sites, what you say and do can spread rapidly among my peers. If 10 of my friends become a fan of your page on Facebook, it shows up on my homepage and I’m intrigued, and more likely to click through to your page. Facebook makes this easy with its advertising, but if you can find ways to do this on Twitter and other sites, you’ll certainly be helping out your brand.
2. Add value by being relevant. However, don’t expect everything you say to cause a cascade effect on social media platforms. Focus on adding value rather than overloading on content. People my age are really, really good at tuning out what we don’t want to hear. (Just ask our parents.) The best way to ensure we’re listening to your messages is to make them relevant to us. Learn why we’re in a given community, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or an iPhone app, and speak to us without severely interrupting what we’re doing.
3. Be conversational. When you’re trying to build awareness about your brand to gain customers, don’t use social media as a billboard but as a telephone. Social media should be an interactive tool, and when your consumers speak, listen and respond. In my experience, the most successful Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages are those that go beyond simple @replies and wall posts. Ask questions, get our feedback, and implement changes. Everyone likes to have their ego stroked, right? Brand consumers, especially Gen Y ones, are no different. What feels better than having a company listen to reasonable, quality recommendations we’ve made?
4. Offer free stuff. We’re just out of college. Loan payments are becoming a harsh reality. If you want us to try out your brand, give us some free samples or coupon codes. Reward us for being loyal customers by launching programs like all those restaurants do. Imagine if your favorite sunscreen or deodorant had Buy 10, The Eleventh Is On Us cards? I know I’d be much more inclined to consistently buy my favorite brand rather than whatever is on sale, which is what I do now. Plus, if a company could build an entire online community based on the loyalty rewards system, I’d probably check it out to see what other users are saying about new products/sales/coupons/etc.
5. Give back. Millennials are do-gooders, and we pride ourselves on supporting companies that are good, too. If you can leverage a social responsibility campaign into your marketing plan, make sure the right Gen Y demographics are aware of it. Kind actions certainly make advertising words stick better in my mind.
What else can be added to this list? What companies do you think are already doing a great job marketing to Gen Y through social media? What other ideas are there beyond social networking sites?