Social media strategy has become key as the millennial generation emerges with distinctive patterns of connectivity, values and spending. While they are mobile-centric — according to Nielsen, 85 percent of them own a smartphone — and are connected 24/7, reaching them has perplexed retailers, who have found that millennials don't respond to traditional marketing methods.
How do you connect with the most connected generation in history? Social media is their entry to the Internet, and it leads search engines in terms of content discovery — which means you need to develop a relationship with them on social media. Here are five steps to take.
1. Find Out Where They Hang Out
Different social networks serve different functions. Mashable notes that a report from Frank N. Magid Associates Inc. shows that teen Facebook usage dropped from 95 percent in 2012 to 88 percent in 2014. Twitter, meanwhile, saw an increase in adult users in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. Tumblr and Pinterest are popular with women, notes FinancesOnline, and Pew reports that college graduates and higher-income users are generally found on LinkedIn. Find out where your millennials hang out and engage them there.
2. Use Social Ads
According to LinkedIn, social advertisements are successful at audience engagement (with an engagement rate of 1 to 3 percent on Twitter). Social ads are smaller than banner ads, more suited to smartphones and show up in users' newsfeeds with a brief description of your brand. In other words, they're noninterruptive, integrated and targeted to your demographic.
3. Talk With Them
Millennials are interested in self-expression and don't respond to being talked at, so you need to engage them in conversations. They're big on social responsibility and interested in issues rather than sales pitches, so posting socially minded contributions goes over well. Include interesting facts about an issue that relates to your social content, and maximize engagement through meetups, hangouts or Twitter chats.
4. Use Visuals
Instagram, which engages millennials via pictures and allows them creatively edit and share content, is one of their top-used media channels, notes Forbes — Facebook recently purchased it when they found that millennials preferred sharing pictures to updating their Facebook statuses.
Creative expression is important, and videos, photos and infographics are flooding social streams. Adding engaging visuals to your posts and Tweets will pique their interest, as will using videos on YouTube to tell your story. Just make sure all your media content is mobile friendly.
Millennials love to share opinions and experiences in the social sphere, so make sure your content allows for this. Add hashtags and prompts, and encourage them to turn your content into user-generated content (UGC) via their status updates, tweets, shares and reviews. Mashable found that millennials trust UGC 50 percent more than brand-generated content, so this level of engagement is key to your reach.
Ultimately, catering to millennials in your social media marketing means creating content that is inspirational, relevant and shareable. It's a dramatic shift from traditional marketing, but once mastered, your social media strategy is sure to be a smash.