By now, you’ve probably heard a lot of buzz around the term “Millennial”. Suddenly, everyone began to try to understand what this “new generation” was thinking and what they ultimately wanted. As a Millennial, I have always struggled to understand what made us so mysterious to other generations. After all, it seems to me that we all want the same basic things: a happy life, family, work, love, food, knowledge. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to really hone in on what made my generation different, and why everyone was having such a difficult time grasping us a whole. I wrote out lists and compared them with each other. I tried to make this harder than it really had to be, and I suspect this is what is happening with other generations and businesses who are desperately trying to understand the “Millennial mind”. When it comes down to it, there is a very simple way to understand how Millennials view themselves.
We are the non-traditional social generation.
This is “us” (the Millennials) boiled down into a one sentence definition. Just looking at this sentence probably doesn’t help you much. My hope is that after you’re done reading this article, you’ll understand what this very simple sentence really means.
So, you’re trying to market to Millennials and want them to take an interest in your brand. Maybe you’ve made a profile on every social media platform in existence and are now patiently waiting for them to take notice. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
As someone who works in social media each day, I feel that it’s necessary to first point out that you shouldn’t be on any social network if you’re not willing to keep it updated. That being said, you really don’t need to be on every platform in the first place. Spend some time figuring out where your audience is and how they view each platform. For instance, I like being on Facebook to stay up to date with personal posts but view Twitter as a place where I find out the news of the day. It’s important to remember that some social networks, like Instagram and SnapChat, are on a Millennial’s turf, so it’s important to play by the rules of engagement on those sites.
Let’s get down to the real business! What is it that Millennials want?
We, as Millennials, may vary in age, but we have a lot in common…
1.) We want to relate to you and make new friends (on and offline):
Millennials want to express themselves and aren’t shy when about being authentic. We want brands that reflect something worth while and feel relatable. We appreciate when something is bigger than us and love when brands take a creative approach to help us see their mission. Think about Coca-Cola’s share a coke campaign. Friendship, fun, creative, humor, soda…they hit the nail on the head!
Check out this great YouTube video that shows Australia’s reactions to this campaign:
2.) We spend money on experiences…not things.
Don’t get me wrong. I like online shopping as much as the next Millennial, but this isn’t what I really mean. Because Millennials are such social creatures (we grew up sharing our thoughts and feeling all over Facebook), we naturally want to share these experiences with others! Here’s the big kicker. Are you listening? We listen to each other! We love word of mouth and we love it even more when it’s tweeted in under 140 characters. You want our business? Get one person excited about your brand and watch it take off!
Dove did a wonderful job when they created their beauty campaign. How many people do you think shared this once it happened to them? Here’s a hint: A lot!
3.) We don’t like traditional marketing:
You’ve probably guessed that one, right? Have you mastered that though? It can be difficult to move from the standard, “Save $100 when you book your hotel now!” to the Millennial preferred approach of something like, “Check out our blog on the top ten wacky hotels to visit this spring break! We can even help you save $100 by clicking our link at the end!”. We want interesting and we want creative. If you’re hitting us with a sales pitch that adds no significant experience to our lives, we just plain won’t listen. Don’t you love our stubbornness? Honestly though, we can see when you don’t care versus when you do. If we don’t feel you care about us, why should we care about your product or service?
In the end, the best thing you can do is spend less time trying to figure us out and more time listening to us, caring about what we want and what we have to say, and marketing to us by really adding value to our lives. Examples might be an article about reducing student loans or a fun and creative article on what your favorite coffee flavor says about you. Don’t think of Millennials as some mysterious new generation to be figured out. Find us on our turf, help us relate to you, and add something of value (small or large) to our day to day lives. In the end, Millennials are busy trying to figure everything else out while you’re stuck on what makes us tick. It’s time to hop on board the nontraditional train!
Ellen Vandever began dabbling in social media as a way to stay connected with friends and use her creative skills. In a very short time, social media became a passion of hers and she began to learn more about the marketing side of this field. While working with several different companies on their online presence, she honed her skills and fell in love with the opportunities social media presents to connect with people all across the world. She soon met Corey Perlman and began working with the eBoot Camp team to help others effectively market their businesses and reach new people to connect with.
Ellen has a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theatre and continues to enjoy the performing arts. She uses the communication skills that she developed in her undergraduate studies to collaborate with clients and make sure their promotional needs are met.
In her free time, Ellen enjoys spending time with her husband, having fun with friends, playing video games, reading, cooking, and playing with her very sweet puppy! Ellen views the eBoot Camp team as part of her family and becomes more and more grateful everyday for the amazing opportunity that is this career path.