Millennials are the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the marketing rainbow. The first generation born into the wired - and shortly thereafter wireless - world have been defined by the Internet and the ability to ask questions, get answers, and express themselves with the push of a button.
Having the web and all the instant information and entertainment that comes along with it as a backdrop for their formative years has tinted their perspective on just about everything - especially their relationships with brands. They are opinionated, outspoken, entitled, and can tweet, watch TV, and talk on a smartphone all at the same time.
How then do marketers effectively capture this elusive generation? My company analyzed the top 10 brands among engaged Facebook users ages 18 to 34 to uncover a few Millennial-proof social marketing tactics.
'Here We Are Now. Entertain Us.'
It's been over 20 years and it still smells like teen spirit - the demanding lyrics of Nirvana's Millennial anthem ring true in today's social era more than ever before. According to a study of 4,000 Millennials by Edelman Berland and 8095 Live, 80 percent of Millennials say they want brands to entertain them. My company's research reveals a number of favorite Millennial Facebook brands that have succeeded in "entertaining" and engaging users with a plethora of unique, relevant content. Take Red Bull, one of the top brands among 18-to-34-year-old males, for example. This energy drink brand clearly understands its audience and what makes it tick: its extreme sports photo and video posts have tens of thousands of likes and hundreds of comments each. As Red Bull's success proves, having a clear picture of Millennial fans' favorite interests is key in developing an effective and entertaining content strategy.
Make Them an Offer They Can't Refuse
As part of a generation that received trophies for mere participation, it only makes sense for Millennials to expect something in return for liking your brand on Facebook. Some brands, like Taco Bell, the first-place winner of our top 10 Millennial brand research, have mastered the art of the Facebook deal. Taco Bell frequently posts exclusive deals and national offers for Facebook fans , like free churros on February 4, or free Doritos ® Locos tacos on October 27 - to establish symbiotic relationships and keep customers tuned in. However, Taco Bell steers clear of the "What Have You Done for Me Lately" syndrome by keeping content between offers genuine and relevant. Avoid "unlikes" by engaging Millennials with unique, original content between offers.
Give Them Something to Talk About
Millennials were raised with a virtual megaphone in hand - social media - and the belief that they deserve to be heard. When it comes to talking about your brand, whether it's as an ambassador or a hater, social media is their favorite forum. They'd much rather post a comment about your brand to Twitter or Facebook than hold for customer service. In fact, per the Edelman study, 70 percent of Millennials said it is their responsibility to share feedback with companies after a good or bad brand experience. Most smart brands monitor Facebook comments and respond appropriately, but brands that are both smart and brave - and committed to the true spirit of social media - actually invite fans to participate in the conversation and contribute content. Sixty percent of Millennials say they want brands to help them share and connect, and this is one of the ways Jeep, another top 10 Millennial brand, is successfully engaging Millennials online. A brand that's always inspired passion, Jeep invites fans to upload photos for its weekly "Fan Top Five," and loads its timeline with plenty of fan-submitted content throughout the week.
Make Them Feel Special
Having grown up in the reality TV era, where real life is more entertaining than fiction, Millennials love to be in the spotlight and running the show. Brands that turn the attention to their fans succeed at establishing loyal, satisfied customers and brand advocates who give shining recommendations to friends and family. Dunkin' Donuts, the number four brand among Millennials, does a great job of making fans feel special while serving as brand ambassadors with its "Fan of the Week" contest. The contest invites Facebook fans to submit photos of themselves with their favorite Dunkin' Donuts product for a chance to have their photo posted on the page's Facebook cover photo, as well as on the Dunkin' Donuts Times Square digital billboard.
Millennials may seem to be tough nuts to crack, but if we can remember that this is the generation of "everybody wins" we'll be headed in the right direction. After all, at the most basic levels, they simply want to feel heard and respected, and who doesn't want that? For more social media inspiration, check out the rest of the top 10 Millennial Facebook brands: Walmart, Best Buy, Monster Energy, XFINITY, Pizza Hut, and Craftsman.
Facebook Like image on home page via Shutterstock.
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Dilip is CEO and co-founder of Compass Labs. He previously led Google's mobile ads business and ran PayPal's risk and fraud management, financial services, and compliance. Dilip has co-founded and led two successful start-up companies -CashEdge and CommerceSoft - after stints at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Dilip has an MBA from the Harvard Business School, M.S. in electrical engineering from Rice University, and a B.Tech in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT