Any study you consult will show that while U.S. Internet usage is nearly ubiquitous, the mobile segment dominates all digital activity today. This is true of most age groups - but even more so for some, including Boomers, Gen Xers, and extraordinarily so, the Millennials. If Millennials are your target audience, you must have a mobile content development strategy specifically to engage and satisfy this audience with its unique preferences. A high-quality presentation of your content via mobile is vital. This presentation is some blend of visual stimuli, interactivity, localization, and call for input - as well as, of course, constant consideration of the interplay of social and mobile.
First, Who Are Millennials?
As aptly described by media economist Jack Myers in his 2012 book "Hooked Up" (a book that studies a specific sub-segment of Millennials he dubs "Internet Pioneers"), "Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the larger generation that includes the subset of Internet Pioneers. Millennials are the last generation born in the 20th century and the first few years of the 21st - including everyone born between 1980 and 2005, a total in the United States of 105 million people." So, there are a lot of them - and they are all wielding mobile and smartphones to service their mode of choice.
Some Stats on Millennials and Mobile
In an examination of mobile consumption, eMarketer provides a close look at a few demographics where the penetration is especially intense and shines a light on the Millennials, a group that "takes online activity up a notch - though on mobile their profile is very similar to that of Gen Xers: 92.3% used a mobile phone in 2012, among whom 63.2% used the mobile web and slightly fewer used smartphones. Millennials have the highest social networking penetration of any generation, and the highest Facebook and Twitter use rates to match. Although Twitter started out with a somewhat older audience, Millennials now make up more than half of all US users, and will hover around that point for the next several years. They also account for about four in 10 digital video viewers." You can see the prevailing role of mobile, social, and video in the lifestyle and therefore mode of engagement of this audience.
What Millennials Mean to Your Company
For marketers focused on cross-platform content publishing, curation, management, and marketing, this has huge implications. If your audience is a Millennial, you must understand her mindset is geared more toward social media - to like, share, and tweet - than the domain and even more toward smaller screens. That is where mobile comes into the picture and where the Millennial often opts to access content. So, you must develop, execute, and optimize in a way that suits the mobile environment in order to engage and satisfy (and keep satisfying) the Millennial audience.
With the newer generation spending more time on their phones, they are spending far less time viewing on desktop - an environment you've probably previously given the majority of your attention when it comes to content. In order for your brand to raise audience engagement, brand authority, and breadth that suitably address this audience you so value, it needs to have a strong and paralleled mobile experience. This essentially means you need to think "mobile first."
So, what are some of the considerations? What does this look like? Well, it's a focus on stimuli, engagement, personalization, localization, and input on content - within any given mobile experience.
Mobile video as visual stimuli to engage. Millennials rely on social channels and video - usually via mobile - to connect and consider, for a whole range of things. Smart marketers are using video ad and content solutions to engage within the mobile environment. Take the examples of Instagram and Vine, two visually driven brands tailored for the hand-held environment and very much targeting and competing for the Millennial. For instance, the shorter 15-second content option now made available by Instagram suits the Millennial attention span and boosts its potential appeal over Twitter's Vine. These two brands are competing for Millennial mindshare, in a variety of very specific ways having to do with content and creative flexibility, as they explore new creative horizons.
Mobile content and interactivity for commerce. Unlike other audiences, as a brand, you can't rely on Millennials being attentively in front of the TV or online browsing. They are phone-in-hand, operating in spurts. And you have to take advantage of this mode to drive interaction. The eMarketer report mentioned above, for example, talks specifically about the role of mobile in shopping and research. It shows that consumers use their Internet-ready devices to browse and shop. Google and Bing are increasingly present in Millennials' purchasing journey, as they compare prices on their phones while in retail stores. A marketer who can reach a Millennial at this decisive moment, leveraging mobile engagement and localized content, on the spot, can also drive brick-and-mortar traffic. This doesn't necessarily mean getting into the business of developing shopping apps for the Millennial - but it could. Brands such as Axe have done a lot with mobile apps and games for the Millennial, with Axe Twist Roulette or The Beautiful Game being examples of successful executions for this audience. It does mean thinking through how personalization and localization of mobile content can work for your brand to drive the interaction, engagement, and traffic you desire.
Brand input goes both ways with mobile content. Millennials are far less tolerant than others of one-way brand communication. They expect to have input and direct participation with your brand. Studies have shown that most Millennials want to contribute content themselves. Again, illustrating the importance of personalization, they want to personalize their brand experience with your brand by sharing and creating their own content. So, how might you factor that into the interface and touch points within your mobile experience and path to conversion? It's everything from spurring social interaction to soliciting opinion and feedback throughout their journey with you. Pepsi is an example of a brand that has continued to play and succeed with these approaches. Take some of its multi-culturally targeted work, which allowed brand personalization at a number of touch points, including language choices, photo uploads, and more. Pepsi has continued to integrate video, social, and mobile for its activations of campaigns targeting these audiences.
Marketers who take the time to know their audiences well - demographics, lifestyle, preferences, behaviors, and modes - have a great head start when imagining how to develop for digital channels. But, given the unique preference of the Millennials for the intersection of video, social, and mobile, the fact that mobile now affords so many options for playing to that environment, driving interaction and engagement, means that marketers specifically targeting them now have extremely powerful choices at their own fingertips.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
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Matthew has worked in the software and Internet industry for over 18 years and has extensive experience building data, content, and publishing-oriented digital businesses.
Prior to founding PublishThis, Matthew served on the executive management team at Edmunds.com, where as EVP, Media he was responsible for helping grow the Internet's leading automotive site from 2001-2008. While at Edmunds, Matthew oversaw the company’s flagship website, Edmunds.com and led product development for the company's successful web expansion, including its syndication platform that powered the automotive channels for AOL, The New York Times, iVillage, and About.com.
Before that, Matthew helped develop and grow The Studio System, the entertainment industry's premier film and television database. Matthew started his career at Andersen Consulting and received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas in Austin.
March 19, 2014