Ninety million millennials roam the planet, yet marketers still struggle to understand how to reach them. Born during the tech revolution (1981–1996), these digital natives hold an estimated $2.5 trillion of spending power, and their preferences will dominate production and marketing strategies for the next twenty years.

But unlike their predecessors, this generation isn’t fazed by traditional advertising. Brands eager to capture the golden goose will need to deploy cutting edge strategies. To help, we’ve assembled the top ten essentials for marketing to millennials.

1. Be authentic.

Millennials have been exposed to advertising since infancy. As Mahesh Chaddah, co-founder of Reservations.com, told Inc., “They can spot an ad from a million miles away. They are keenly aware of what is marketing speak versus real talk. So keep your communications, advertisements, and content as authentic as possible."

It’s true. Fifty-seven percent of millennials regularly block ad content because it is too pushy and phony. Producing genuinely helpful content without requiring anything in return is far more effective. Feature product reviews, how-to guides, and your customer’s real-life success stories. Engagement, leads, conversions, and referrals will follow naturally.

2. Be accessible.

Don’t count on young consumers calling on the phone or walking into brick-and-mortar stores to ask a question. Millennials value self-education. They know where to look for information, and if a brand isn’t easily providing what they need, odds are they’ll move on.

Our advice is to meet this generation where they are. According to a University of Southern California study, 82 percent of millennials say they use social media to interact with brands or retailers, so building an active online presence is an absolute must.

3. Be “post-worthy.”

Millennials are endlessly curious about what others are doing and are constantly sharing their own social stories. "We know this group of consumers likes to see themselves in the media they consume and we take that insight quite literally, focusing on user-generated content to help tell our brand story,” Bowlmor AMF Marketing VP Colie Edison says. Bowlmor is the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling venues, in large part because of the company’s attentiveness to customers. Visitors know if they post pictures and videos of themselves with the #StrikeItUp hashtag on Instagram, Bowlmor is likely to feature their UGC in other marketing channels, and that’s a mutually-enticing scenario.

“When your consumer can relate to your content in an authentic way— in this case an honest look into the brand experience,” Edison says, “your brand message goes a lot farther."

4. Peer content matters.

Recommendations of friends and family heavily influence consumers, but what about a stranger’s review? Bazaar Voice discovered an astonishing 84 percent of millennials are influenced by UGC on a company’s website. Showcasing fan loyalty on landing pages, social hubs, and even the check-out process is the most credible “advertising” a brand can do. At Twine, we regularly implement social shopping tools, and our clients are blown away by the results.

5. Educate and entertain.

When it comes to traditional advertising, millennials are a skeptical bunch, and frankly, they don’t take kindly to being told what to think or do. Brands perform better when casually providing information consumers will want to share. M.A.C. Cosmetics nails this approach by frequently uploading “how-to” make-up video tutorials to YouTube. The top-rated manufacturer learned early on that young audiences love highly visual, data-driven content. Ebooks, blog posts, influencer advice, and anything that follows the “show, don’t tell” principle—this is social content marketing at its best.

6. Be inclusive.

Millennials prefer to be a part of the conversation, not just passive viewers of an ad. One of the best ways to cultivate that relationship is to invite fans to participate in product development and brand decisions. Not only does your company benefit from creative input –Lay’s Potato Chip received millions of submissions during its new flavor contest – but millennials say they are 62 percent more likely to become loyal customers of brands that engage them online!

7. Bring personality to industry norms.

Millennials love putting a modern spin on outdated services. From Uber, Airbnb, and even clothing rentals, millennials are crazy about apps that connect people to people. These “life hacks” shift the industry’s traditional balance of power, and as Entrepreneur Magazine puts it, there’s simply “something more attractive to today’s customer about purchasing a product or service from a person as opposed to a large corporate brand.”

8. Acknowledge their values.

Millennials are constantly on the lookout for brands that align with their values, and they’re willing to pay more to support socially-responsible companies if doing so allows them to make a difference. American shoe company TOMS is hugely successful in marketing not just footwear, but an aura of goodwill. With every pair of shoes purchased, consumers take pleasure in knowing another pair is donated to someone in need, and as a result, TOMS grew into not just a thriving company, but a worldwide movement. Idea brands like TOMS succeed because they understand young shoppers are eager to blend consumerism with altruism.

9. Prove you care.

The rise of online shopping, social media, and the overall sense of immediacy that millennials carry means companies simply cannot afford to miss a beat. “Millennials will ask questions on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and expect an instant response,” WUNDER2 co-founder Michael Malinsky says. “A team of 15 people in our company ensures we always answer within a few minutes, and we have measured substantial increase in sales from people who we had interacted with throughout the marketing process." Inviting feedback and participation is key, but so, too, is responding.

“The amazing thing about marketing to millennials is that they are so good at telling you what they love... and what they hate. And if you are listening— truly listening—this can be incredibly helpful,” CEO Joanna Griffiths of intimates e-commerce brand Knix Wear told Inc. “Every decision we make is informed by listening to our customers, so when millennials purchase, they are not just in love with the product, but they feel like they are a part of something special that they helped to create."

10. Focus on the experience.

Smart brands offer all-inclusive, seamless shopping experiences. Want to see how those sunglasses look on your face? No problem, upload a quick pic. Have a question about your order? Ping the company. Unsure about accommodations? See what other guests have to say.

The end result may be a purchase, but millennials care more about the experience of getting there. Shopping is entertainment, and good service more important than convenience, selection, or loyalty programs, so it’s essential for brands to be just as plugged in and attentive as the demographic they serve.

Twine’s social content marketing platform is an ideal fit for brands eager to reach millennials. Take a look around with a free trial and complimentary demo.

For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

social roi

Get more engagement from your user generated content—and turn social media into real ROI.

social roi

Get more engagement from your user generated content—and turn social media into real ROI.