Guest Post: 6 Tips for Reaching Millennial Audiences Through Social Media
If you’re working in marketing, you’re marketing to Millennials. According to Forbes, there are 80 million Millennials in the United States, and they have about $200 billion in buying power. Connecting with them through content marketing is a must for any business or nonprofit aiming to survive in the digital age. And yet the internet is littered with cringe-worthy corporate attempts gone horribly wrong. There’s even a subreddit dedicated to the phenomenon: r/FellowKids.
Trust us, you don’t want to end up there. Luckily, you don’t have to. Whether you’re a Gen Xer looking to update your web presence, or a Millennial looking to refresh your approach, there are things you can do to better reach Millennial audiences through social media.
Diff’rent Strokes, Diff’rent Folks. Does your business have a Facebook profile? Great. Does it have a Twitter account? Instagram? Snapchat? Periscope? YouTube channel? It might seem impossible to keep up with all the social media apps, but it’s necessary to remain au courant with Millennial audiences. No, you don’t have to jump on every trend — how many of those Pokemon Go business accounts are still active? — but platforms with millions of unique users and sustained success are worth your time.
Millennial audiences don’t rely on just one social media account to broadcast their online personality to the world, and your business shouldn’t, either.
Learn The Language. That being said, learn to use each platform most effectively for your business. If your Instagram feed is overrun with text, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re always trying to post visual ads to Twitter, you’ve fundamentally misread your medium.
Before your account goes live, do some personal research: Establish personal accounts for yourself, and practice by making non-business posts. Tweet a little bit. Send funny Snaps to your friends. Follow celebrities, journalists, random people you know — and only after that, major corporations and brands. No one will read your social media content if it’s not matched to its platform or if the tone is more ad agency than real talk.
Millennial consumers don’t want promotions: They want people.
Don’t Try To Do Too Much. Still, know your place. There are few things worse than a company trying too hard to prove its hipness or relate-ability. Who can forget the Great Eyeroll of 2016, when Pizza Hut unveiled its “Hut Swag” merchandise line? In addition to not making sense, “Pizza is Bae” wasn’t something most Millennials wanted to wear on a black sweatshirt.
If you only learn of a meme because you Googled the word “meme,” you shouldn’t use it. Likewise, if you’re anything less than 100% sure of what a piece of slang means, keep it out of your mouth… and your Twitter feed. Millennials value honesty and transparency more than the ability to use the word of the moment. And nobody likes a try-hard.
Make Use of Your Younger Employees. If you’re old enough to be in charge, you might also be old enough to be out of touch. That’s where younger employees and interns come in. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help, or even delegate some of the social media work to them. (They’ll probably appreciate the work, and it can look great on a resume.) But don’t absent yourself from the process entirely. Instead, think of your younger employees as native speakers who are available to translate and teach.
Volume is Key… But So is Quality. You know that old chestnut about Millennials being glued to their devices? Well, it’s kind of true. According to The Wall Street Journal, Millennials spend over six hours a day on the internet or interacting with social media. They expect a constant stream of content, and although it doesn’t all need to come from the same place, intermittent or inconsistent posting can mean that your brand will get lost in the shuffle. Without sacrificing quality, you should aim to keep your accounts active on a daily basis… and in some cases, on an hourly schedule. Twitter is particularly fast-paced, but other platforms — like Instagram and Facebook — also need daily touches to be effective tools.
Always Connect. The great thing about social media is that it allows you to connect with your target audience in real time. So take advantage of that immediacy! If someone follows you on Twitter or Instagram, follow them back. If you get a question or comment because of a Facebook post, respond publicly! The more open and available you seem, the more a Millennial audience will trust you. You might be a company or a non-profit, but on social media you can be like everyone else: a relate-able voice, in 140 characters or less.
Sam Radbil is a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO, an online apartment marketplace. ABODO was founded in 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. And in just three years, the company has grown to more than 30 employees, raised over $8M in outside funding and helps more than half a million renters find a new home each month.