At some point in 2016, millennials became the largest single sector in Canada’s workforce. There’s no generation that marketers obsess more about, devoting countless hours attempting to engage with them, understand what motivates them, and what drives their attitudes and behaviors.
There is a regular stream of articles examining the role millennials play in the declining fortune of long established businesses. This isn’t because they’re wildly different to generations that came before (in fact, they’re not), it’s that they’re failing to adapt the way that they communicate.
But, figuring out the “secret sauce” to engaging with millennials isn’t something that’s hugely complex. In fact it’s quite simple if you keep these four things in mind.
Social Media is Key
It’s no secret millennials are obsessed with social media, yet a surprising amount of companies don’t put any thought into their social presence. According to a recent Insights West study the largest demographic of Facebook and Twitter users are aged between 18-29. Despite this, just 46 per cent of Canadian businesses use social media to promote their company.
But just pumping out your sales message on Facebook and Twitter is not enough. Nothing is likely to get you unfollowed as just shilling your product, or posting bland photos or status updates. The key to success is to invest time and effort in creating a content calendar, considering fun seasonal occurrences and opportunities to insert your company organically into the conversation.
Stand for Something
Though sometimes portrayed as self-centered, a 2017 study by The Environics Institute showed one in four millennials engaged in a cause or issue in the past 12 months. These ranged from social justice, the environment, to politics, and health care. It’s a generation that’s aware they’re inheriting a planet with problems and they want to do something about it. Philanthropic endeavors are becoming increasingly common, like Toms Shoes donating a pair of shoes for each they sell. Closer to home, restaurants are partnering with Small Business BC award winners Mealshare to deliver a meal to people in need for every meal purchased.
Be Authentic to Yourself
It’s been shown millennials react poorly to advertising that appears deceptive or economical with the truth. The tried and tested “marketing speak” of old should stop now. This generation can spot an ad from a distance and tend to steer clear of it. Instead, know your company’s authentic voice and use it to connect with them, not just to market to them. When Pepsi teamed up with supermodel, Kendall Jenner, for a 2017 marketing campaign, it was always going to be a big deal. Unfortunately, the brand tried to tap into a far larger socio, political context than was appropriate to sell a fizzy drink, striking a totally inappropriate tone. The ad was quickly pulled following universal negative reaction, leaving Pepsi to deal with the fallout. Try to think of alternatives to traditional ads, such as enlisting influencers to try your product and potentially evangelize it.
Smartphones are ubiquitous among under-35’s, most of whom will check their phone multiple times a day. Whether it’s through a dedicated app or mobile site, there’s no excuse not to make your mobile platform a central part of your business. Becoming “mobile friendly” doesn’t necessitate a dedicated app. Several free tools exist that can help better the experience for visitors using smartphones and tablets. Start with Google Analytics to assess how many users are engaging with your site through mobile. Next, put your site through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, which provides instant feedback on areas to improve. Finally, check out Hootsuite’s 9 Tips to Create a Mobile Friendly Website for more pointers.