Sales & Marketing

The rules of marketing to millennials – revealed by a marketing millennial

7 min read

04 August 2015

It seems trite for one to say that advertising since the turn of the century has changed. From the emergence of the laptop to the proliferation of mobile, the changes from the old disruptive methods of marketing seem completely evident.

This shift is no more pertinent than when marketing to millennials. As teens and millennials of today, we’ve grown up on social media platforms. TV, print and radio are the dead media forms and YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat have become where we reside. As a consequence of this, there is a need now for brands to adapt.

I’m in a unique position as both a member of what is called Generation Y, as well as a marketer helping brands reach millennials through my company Fanbytes. One of the ways in which brands can adapt is through the medium of social influencers, young teens and 20-somethings who, through their talent and personality, have been able to command large audiences who listen, watch and engage with their movements online. 

The opportunities provided by influencer marketing provides a levelling playing field for both the small and the big brand. In the old days, there were certain types of marketing; TV, for example, was not accessible to smaller brands by virtue of cost. With social, the barriers to entry are so low that a brand can collaborate with influencers and gain meaningful results for as little as £1,000.

Not only do these social influencers provide a direct engagement channel to a highly social audience, the narrative and flexibility a brand can benefit from is much greater than buying adverts on Google or even Facebook.

Marketers beware; most of these social influencers are young, most between 13 to 25, so one cannot approach working with them to reach a young audience in the same way that one can approach conventional advertising. From our vantage point, we were able to develop three main tips for when working with millennials.

Entertain

Craig Davis, former executive at J Walter Thompson, once said: “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” This summarises the opportunity that lies in front of marketers today with the shift to social. An example is a collaboration we brokered between Go Pro and a football freestyler Kieran Brown.

As opposed to just simply doing a review, a compelling series of videos around Bin Shots was created, which Go Pro then repurposed for their own channel – it has now seen over 855,000 times. Too often brands rush into the world of social influencers with the same mentality as conventional marketing, let’s send a bland display message to our audience and if we hit them with it enough times they will succumb.

In the world of social, especially when using young influencers targeting young audiences, this flies out the window and there is an onus to entertain an audience into buying into you as opposed to just ramming it down their throats.


Read more on millennials:

Involve

When targeting a young audience, especially on social, it’s important that brands realise the need to involve both the influencers and audiences. An example can be seen in collaboration between mobile app company Mallze who describes itself as a Tinder For Fashion. 

Rather than just doing a simple product review, it decided to opt for a giveaway which required audiences to download the app and share their favourite item from Mallzee in order to win a Mallzee voucher to buy that product. 

This was led by teen social influencers in the fashion community leading to tens of thousands of engagements and downloads within hours. Such a result in such a short burst of time will not have been able to be achieved through conventional display ads.

Teach

On first hearing, this sounds counterintuitive. We millennials and teens are often depicted as the rebel generation, unable to sit still and continuously in need of something to do – so “teaching”, which is normally associated with school, seems like the last thing you would want to do as a brand.

But the rules have changed. The relationship between influencers and their audiences is a deeply authentic one in which the influencer plays the role of a big sister/big brother to your audience.

Brands should take advantage of this and, in collaboration with influencers, position themselves as a teacher of how to do x. An increasingly powerful trend is that of influencers acting as tutorial experts helping audiences to understand the nuances of various makeup brands or how to use certain products. Brands adopting such tactics are able to garner trust in a way that they couldn’t before simply by positioning.

To summarise, it’s important that brands pay attention to the shift in social especially to social influencers. Their ability to directly engage with audiences is one which remains unseen in previous forms of media. 

By entertaining, involving and teaching audiences through content creators, brands both big and small are in a unique position to take advantage of this new burgeoning form of media.

Timothy Armoo is a Huffington Post Entrepreneur Award winner. He is also co-founder of Fanbytes, a social influencer platform helping global brands like Nickelodeon, Go Pro and New Look to engage with millennials through top social influencers on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine.