How to sell to Millennials has become a huge discussion in recent years. They're not instantly loyal to products or companies they like. They have a huge amount of purchasing power ($200 billion according to U.S. Chamber of Commerce), but they also have a huge amount of debt and a tendency to eschew traditional purchases or adulthood milestones such as buying a home.
As a company, what can you do to get in front of them and earn their business? You can target the sites you know they're on. You can make sure your message fits their ideals and will get them listening. In other words, you can market to them on social media. And to help earn their trust and loyalty, you can start with unpaid campaigns.
Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults use at least one social media site. According to Pew Research Center's 2016 Social Media Update, the sites Millennials are using are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, in order of popularity. Snapchat and Pinterest are also used, but less so than the big four. You want to make sure you are where your potential customers are, so you need to be on social media.
So how do you get started? With general posts and thought leadership. Why unsponsored or unpromoted posts over a paid campaign? Because it will help you test different content while narrowing down your key audience - all without paying for clicks or impressions. Here are some key thoughts to keep in mind when looking at your social presence and planning your social media efforts.
1) Make sure your profile is up to date and descriptive. Okay, so this one is a little obvious, but make sure your profile page on each of your social media sites has your accurate business information and details about what you do and why. Millennials are always on the go, and missing or incorrect information is going to slow them down. Having to check for your business hours or address using a search engine is a second step they may not want to take.
2) Don't expect loyalty to come easy. Millennials can be exceptionally loyal once you've proven yourself, but that takes far more time than with older generations. Millennials will not like your company just because their parents did. You have to support their values of diversity, passion, sharing, and discovery. Plus, they want to feel informed and included. These tendencies are why a more subtle and connection-building form of marketing can go a long way with this group. Content marketing and thought leadership posts build expertise without trying to hard sell your product or service.
For those new to this, start by finding something about your company you can brag about. Post about the process you have that saves energy or water. Post about the charity you donate time or money to, and tag the charity. Post about something in your field that you're an expert on. Any of these things will help you be seen as an authentic group of people rather than a cold business that's the same as everyone else in your industry. Speaking of that...
3) Authenticity is key. Authenticity is important to Millennials and hard selling doesn't tend to come across as authentic. For this reason, posts that highlight your brand values, relevant articles, or informative content can draw their attention better than a post that looks like a standard ad. Don't get me wrong, you still want to have posts that promote your product or service. But sales-type posts shouldn't account for more than 30 percent of your overall total.
There are a few verticals where this isn't as true, such as restaurants and other food-based companies. But even those should try to have a balanced number of informational versus sales posts. For these verticals you also want to keep in mind that there are other things to post about besides the special of the day or new features. Informational posts about your values or your industry in general will help to build a deeper connection with Millennials.
4) As always, test, test, test. All social sites have analytics and insights you can check to see who is following you, who is liking your posts, and what types of items are getting more shares. Pay attention to these numbers and repeat the ones that brought the best return. Test posts with pictures. Then test different types of pictures. Then test the copy you're pairing with the pictures. The same goes for video posts and anything else you can think of. Test each piece of content you put out to ensure you're hitting the marks you want to. And remember: Just because you aren't paying to promote them doesn't mean you aren't investing time into this. Checking your work and analytics is just as important on unpaid posts as it is on paid ones.
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