They are often called “Generation C.” They are the first generation to grow up with devices in their hands from a very young age. In fact, their devices hold much of their lives. They are tools for communication, for research, and for consumption; they are the ways by which this generation stays connected to their larger communities. In short, a millennial without his/her device is probably very uncomfortable, maybe a little panicky. This is good news for a content marketer who depends upon his/her audience being online a lot.
On the other hand, content marketers will not find this generation a dream if they do not understand what is important to them and how to connect and build a relationship in a best way. They are an interesting group of people with very definite values and priorities. They also spent about $200 billion online last year. Here is what you need to know about millennials if you want them to listen to your “noise” above everyone else’s.
1. They are Unique Consumers
Millennials do business differently than their parents or grandparents. They are savvy consumers who do not rely on ads to make purchasing decisions. They rely on their communities for information and to make recommendations. When their online contacts have good experiences with businesses, they will do business with those brands too.
They want marketers to engage with them but not via hard selling methods. They want to be intrigued, entertained, and inspired first and provided opportunities to purchase later. You cannot rush into relationships with millennials – you must woo them gradually with content that engages in ways not related specifically to your product or service.
2. Be Where They Are
As a content marketer, you already know this, but it is worth a reminder. Once you have your customer persona fully developed, then you have to know where and when s/he spends time online. For millennials, this will be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat (younger millennials), Tumblr (younger millennials), and Twitter for certain. For some millennial females, Pinterest may also be an option. For career millennials, LinkedIn is also a potential platform, although this will depend pretty heavily on the specific product or service you are marketing.
Content marketers that are a part of a large team can probably establish a presence on several social media platforms. Small businesses will have to pick and choose 2-3 at first. The reason for this is simple: Millennials expect to see new content daily if they are following a company’s page or account – if they don’t, they will bounce pretty quickly. Millennials also want to be invited into conversations with businesses – this takes monitoring social media pages and accounts several times a day.
Consistently and regularly posting and responding to any question, comment or product feedback is both necessary and time-consuming. If you don’t have the manpower, don’t overextend yourself. Do a couple of platforms really well – those that are most popular with your specific demographic.
3. Connect with them through Content Type
Baby boomers and even Gen Y’ers have been pretty serious consumers. They compare product descriptions, prices, warranties, and also listen to friends and family members for recommendations. They tend not to be too concerned about online experiences or relationships with companies they do business with – the product or service is the top priority.
Millennials value experiences over things. It’s not that they don’t want “things” – they just want an experience in the purchasing process. Brands that can give those experiences are far more likely to engage them, and have a far better chance of being spread among their communities. Dry, dull product descriptions won’t cut it; blog posts that focus on promoting products/services won’t cut it either.
Case Study: Dollar Shave Club
Marketers who want to see a great example of a company that appeals to millennials must check out the website itself, its Facebook page, and its Instagram account.
The homepage starts with a video – a really funny video that gives a great experience right off the bat.
The rest of the homepage provides benefits that millennials love – convenience, choices, and control.
Product descriptions are sprinkled with humor too.
Their Facebook page is updated daily, and someone monitors it for questions or issues, always responding.
It is no wonder the company’s Facebook page has had more than 2.6 million visitors. There’s a lot of conversation, lots of good comments about the products from customers, and a feeling of personal connection with the company.
Dollar Shave is clearly a company that has mastered content marketing strategies for its millennial audience.
4. Demonstrate Social Responsibility
While older generations often type-cast millennials as being self-absorbed and a bit lazy, they really are not. Their priorities, however, are different from their elders. They want more of a work-life balance; they want flexible work hours; they want a work environment that is conducive to personal connections and casualness. This is probably why the attrition rate at companies like Facebook and Google are so low. Traditional companies with a formal structure do not offer these cultures.
The other high priority for companies with which millennials will do business if social responsibility. They want brands that are eco-friendly, that support causes and that are charitable. Marketers must publish their companies’ efforts in this regard. When they do, millennials will “talk them up” and share their content with their tribes.
Toms Shoes makes the most of its charitable causes on its site and all of its social media platforms. Beginning with the commitment to donate a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, the company has now moved into areas of clean water, prenatal care for women in poverty, and eye care.
Every year, the company runs a “One Day Without Shoes” campaign on Instagram. For every barefoot picture that is posted, a pair of shoes is given away.
The response every year is overwhelming, and millennials feel connected to Toms and its great work.
Sales in 2015 reached $300+ million, and the company is valued at $625 million.
5. Gen C Wants to Share Content When it Serves Certain Purposes
If marketers can create content that is relevant, poignant, inspirational, shocking and funny, it will be shared. The other type of serious content, of course, is that related to products and services. If millennials have a good experience with a purchase, from beginning to follow-up; if you have information to give them that is not commonly known; if you have solved a problem, then the millennial will share your brand with others. They like to look knowledgeable and savvy within their communities.
Make content valuable enough to be shared, and you will build an audience base that will continue to grow.
Red Bull does a great job of this. Its website is just chock full of all kinds of categories of information that will appeal to its audience and that will be shared:
The company is not just selling a drink. It is giving information on fitness, nutrition, sporting events, thrill-seeking adventures, music events and more.
Red Bull knows that visitors to its site will always find something new and exciting to share with their friends.
Millennials are a dream audience for content marketers, to be sure. They are connected for hours a day and are continually “on the prowl” for interesting and exciting stuff to read, view, and share. The challenge for content marketers is to tap into this connected generation which has billions to spend.
Understanding Generation C better will allow you to develop content that will better engage them. You can implement interaction and activity that they will see a meaningful and shareable. Just don’t ask them to push a call-to-action button too early.
If you can engage Generation C consumers successfully, you will have loyal customers – customers who will share your brand everywhere. If you are seen as a disingenuous opportunistic company, however, you will have forever lost them (and their communities).