Photo Credit: Elizabeth Hahn
Since Millennials are one of the largest groups of consumers out there, most brands are trying to get their attention just to win the numbers game. Not only is it a demographic that has $200 billion to spend, but it is also incredibly important for brands to build early loyalty if they want to set the stage for lifelong relevance.
Most college-aged consumers are making their own purchasing decisions for the first time so that brand affinity and sentimentality can last a lifetime, creating a sustainable revenue stream.
A Tough Sell
Despite their size and significance, they are not the easiest to win over due, in part, to their very specific expectations that differ from all generational groups that have come before them. For those brands that want to engage with Millennials, they had better understand what Millennials are looking for in brands and then know how to speak their language when they are ready to open the conversation.
While some industries may be easier to do this than others like consumer products, others like manufacturing, fulfillment, and other B2B-focused industries may find this particularly challenging.
“This generation is savvy to traditional marketing and advertising,” says Brian Sutter, Director of Marketing for System ID, a barcode solution and software company that works with brands such as Motorola and Honeywell. “That means they know when they are being sold to, they have a language that’s constantly changing, and they have a culture that is hard to penetrate.”
Brands are going to have to be very nimble to keep up with fast-moving trends, which come and go quicker than ever before. They will need a smart and robust content strategy in place to speak to Millennials on a more personal level about what their brand stands for and how that aligns with this consumer’s values, culture, and lifestyle.
A Unique Value Proposition To Help Brands Attract Millennials
What’s hot today can be cold tomorrow, so a unique company known as FlockU allows brands to strike while the message is hot. It’s a vertically integrated, peer-to-peer content exchange run by college students, for college students and of college students.
Its marketing capabilities offer brands a unique “lab” to reach this elusive 18-24 year old millennial audience. Since launching earlier in 2016, FlockU has more than 700,000 members, with nearly four million monthly web hits for its content.
Josh Verne, Founder and CEO of FlockU, saw an opportunity that he could exploit that would help brands out there that want to engage Millennials. He explained, “I saw a whitespace in the marketplace. There are a ton of platforms where experts speak at Millennials. That content may have some value, but I wondered why it couldn’t be possible to just create a platform for college students to speak directly to their peers. What we’ve done is created an engaged platform because the content is developed in a trusted way for the demographic, by the demographic. Now brands can tap that platform to also engage with Millennials as they have been focused on achieving.”
As Steve Borenstein, former CEO of ESPN and The NFL Network who sits on FlockU’s Board of Advisors, explained, “Connecting with Millennials is vital because they are the future. If brands can connect with them today, then they will be using their products and services for decades to come.”
Engaging With Millennials To Help with Health Issues
FlockU allows brands to convey their messages a way in that is organic and natural as one company, Cystex, discovered. The company — which deals with a topic that many deal with yet are uncomfortable talking about, urinary tract infections — partnered with FlockU to highlight content that was medically accurate and that could reach the demographic where individuals experience this for the first time.
Jennifer J. Moyer, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Cystex, noted, “It is very important to us to communicate with the 18-24 year old age group as that’s the age range where they are most likely to have their first urinary tract infection, especially women. “
Moyer believes with the right information, people can better find the health care resources that are appropriate for their condition and educate themselves to help avoid additional infections in the future.
“It can be an embarrassing thing to talk about, so humor can be a good way to deal with it, provided the information is medically correct,” she adds. “Since FlockU is written by Millennials, they immediately knew the best tone and content choice to present this vital information to their peers.”
While it’s critical to get certain content across, this illustrates just how specific Millennials are when it comes to getting their information unlike other generations that came before them. Many companies would not even think that humor would be appropriate in this type of situation and opt for dry, serious content to get their point across. In actual fact, though, Millennials, would prefer the humor with their health information to get them through what otherwise might be a stressful period for them.
Continue To Focus On Content To Engage With Millennials
Other research has illustrated it is this ability to craft the perfect content in tone and word choice that engages Millennials the most. In fact, a 2014 NewsCred study found content to be the primary means of engagement with Millennials.
However, since the study noted that Millennials are already bombarded with over 5,000 media messages each day, it’s important to get that content right the first time or you may never get their attention again.
As the study found, “NewsCred’s survey found that 60% of Millennials only share content when it is ‘thought provoking and intelligent.’ Aside from your content inspiring, educating, or entertaining your audience, it also needs to be a positive reflection of your brand’s perspective. It should elicit thought and sharing. It should feel smart.”
The study provided some great examples of brands that are doing it right. For example, Netflix has used targeted and shareable content to promote its exclusive programming. This included hosting an interactive Twitter event, creating a Twitter hashtag for one of its most popular characters, and developing a mobile app filled with shareable content of its own.
The results were 98,407 social mentions in one week before the season two premiere for the show it was promoting plus its overall subscribers surpassed 50 million that quarter.
Additionally, Verizon understood that it should use cause marketing as a central point in its marketing to Millennials. The company was able to create the “Inspire Her Mind” campaign, which reminded the audience of the serious disparity between women and men in college science and math programs.
Ready To Engage
Whether you partner with a company like FlockU to access content written by Millennials for Millennials or you emulate some of the other notable brands reaching out to this demographic, make sure you are authentic, emotional, and cause-oriented. Engagement happens with Millennials when you target these key areas and hone in on their beliefs and motivations.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.