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Marketing to Millennials: 4 Tips for Your Brand

It’s hard to believe how drastically social networks like Facebook have evolved since their debut. I’m dating myself here, but, when I first created an account on Facebook, it was only designed for college students. In fact, not every college or university was even involved at that time. We all know how the network has transformed itself to include multiple generations today. However, as the demographic gets “grayer,” the youngsters are less involved.

According to eMarketer, the 65+ demographic will increase more than any other demographic on Facebook through 2016. Interestingly, as this trend happens, the 18-24 crowd will decrease on Facebook. Intriguing data, huh? This chart from Sprout Social shares even more insights into Facebook’s demographics:

Sprout Social Chart

What’s happening is the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y, is getting their social media desires filled on other networks. Pew Research defines this age group as the 18-34 group. Some of this shift is probably due to the fact that their parents and grandparents haven’t made it to these new channels yet.

Still, these trends pose quite the challenge for marketers, especially since activities of the upper and lower ends of the millennial group are likely very different. Some marketers may think they’re in the clear and that they don’t need to reach this crowd since their products and services are for older age groups. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but in a few years, this millennial crowd will be your target audience, so it’s important to do your homework and be ready to capitalize when the time is right. Otherwise, negativity could be associated with your brand leaving you with even bigger problems.

It’s a competitive game, but connection and engagement are possible. The following tips should help:

1. Think before You Speak

A prominent characteristic of the millennial crowd is its strong ability to be heard. For the past ten years or so, we’ve been hearing how blogs, forums, and social networks are outlets for ALL voices. Marketers have embraced and encouraged a two-way communication channel in order to engage, gather feedback, and ultimately, be better marketers.

But, these voices mean that we, as marketers, have to be on our A game. Hasty doesn’t work. Somewhat relevant content will not do you any favors. And complete misses will be damaging. These reasons are why it is of the utmost importance to take a breath and think through what you’re posting before you hit “Enter.” This doesn’t mean that you can’t piggyback on a relevant newsy trend, but it does mean that you have to apply smart marketing. If you don’t, the voices could come back to haunt you.

2. Don’t Be a Friend Instead of a Parent

Who remembers a parent in school that tried too hard to be a friend? It doesn’t work, does it? You can be a cool parent without crossing over that line. The same logic applies to brands connecting with the millennial crowd on social media. Don’t be the brand that uses “wicked” methodologies to try to connect with your audience, because it won’t work.

A brand can be relevant and current without forcing it. By being true to your brand, you show credibility and consistency. If you do this, the lingo and pop culture reference will happen naturally.

3. Be Short, Sweet, and to the Point

Do you ever wish for a simpler life? I’ll admit that I do. Unfortunately, for the majority, life has us on the fast track. In other words, you have very little time, if any, beyond fulfilling your needs and maybe dabbling into your wants. This means that, even when you have a minute to play on social media, you don’t want to take the time to read a paragraph from a brand or watch a 10-minute video. You want something quick and easy to digest that provides a solution, answers a question, or that is just helpful information.

This is where marketing skills really come into play. If you have a lot of information to share, tease it. Give your audience a reason to dig further, which is what you want anyway.

4. Don’t Lump Millennials Together

This is a serious mistake that marketers tend to make since the millennial age group covers quite the range of ages. At the lower end, this group includes people still college. And at the upper end, it could include people who are married, with children, and with a decade+ experience in their careers. Simply put, you need more in your toolbox than just emojis.

It requires you to do market research and segment within this audience. There will be times that there will be crossover, which will make your job a little easier, but often, the content will need to vary and be customized per segment.

In summary, marketing with social media channels was never easy, but it has definitely gotten more challenging as society, businesses and consumers have evolved. Today, consumers, especially millennials, are complex. Yes, this means marketing is tough, really tough. But, it’s not impossible. Brands like Ford, Pepsi, Doritos and more are doing it wonderfully.

If you think about this evolution, that many of us marketers advocated by the way, the expectations of millennials are not surprising. Millennials want more than a logo, they want human elements, and they want to be part of your brand experience. Isn’t this what marketers preach all the time? Sounds like we need to step up our game to practice what we preach.

Should You Outsource Marketing Services?

In the last 10 years, social media marketing has become a huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes. From mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, marketing strategies are turning more and more to social media. In fact, it was projected that 70 percent of companies would increase their digital marketing budget in 2015. This trend is expected to increase in coming years.

One of the downsides to social media, however, is the amount of time needed to maintain a presence. This means more work for you and your team. The question is, should you keep it in-house or should you outsource marketing services? As with most decisions, there are pros and cons to both sides. At SugarSpun Marketing, we get it – we’ve worked with all types and sizes of companies. No one company is exactly the same as the next. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together some facts and tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you plan your marketing strategy and budget.

Outsourcing Infographic-01

Facebook Ads: How Effective Are They?

 

Hootsuite Sponsored Facebook Ad

What do you think of Facebook ads? As businesses and marketers, do you find them useful? From the consumer perspective, are they annoying? Have your eyes already realized where they need to go to avoid them?

As you ponder these questions, let’s take a look at the Facebook advertising platform.  When Facebook became open to all users, advertising became inevitable as a monetization model. Since the ad platform was rolled out several years ago, it’s gone through many different phases and developments. Most would probably agree that these changes have been for the better.

The real question is: Are Facebook ads providing real value to businesses?

According to a couple of recent studies that were incidentally released just before Facebook’s Q3 earnings came out, they do. Kenshoo Social, a digital marketing technology company, released its quarterly review of Facebook’s advertising performance and found considerable improvements from Q2. Some notable improvements include:

  • Ad impressions:  Up 13%
  • Click Volume:  Up 14.4%
  • Cost Per Click (CPC):  Down 9%
  • Conversion Rate (CVR):  Up 2.36x
  • Conversion Volume:  Up 2.85x
  • Revenue:  Up 2.16x
  • Revenue Per Click (RPC):  Up 1.76x
  • Return on Investment (ROI):  Up 3.04x

Kenshoo Social believes that changes Facebook has made to its ad platform should largely be credited with these improved performances. For instance, Facebook has given advertisers greater targeting capabilities and more formatting options. Also, as Facebook continues to provide a better product for its advertisers, they, in turn, are becoming more experienced, a.k.a. better, with their approaches.

In a blog post about the study, Kenshoo Social’s Senior Director of Product Marketing Todd Herrold made a powerful statement regarding Facebook ads:

Facebook is a powerful direct response channel that drives significant sales, revenue and ROI… [and] Facebook continues to outperform with major brands driving more sales, more revenue and higher ROI from Facebook Ads.”

A second study from Adobe, which is the first annual Social Media Intelligence report, also found positive developments in Facebook ad performance. The study specifically looked at more than 131 billion ad impressions and 4.3 billion social engagements on Facebook. It found that, overall, Facebook’s ad clicks, ad impressions and the advertiser’s return on investment (ROI) increased in 2013 from 2012. Particularly speaking, Facebook ads were clicked 29 percent more in 2013, the volume of impressions was up 85 percent and the ROI was up 58 percent year over year.

Social Media Intelligence Report

Social Media Intelligence Chart

Interestingly enough, well-acclaimed research firm Forrester also just released an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg explaining why it thinks the social giant is “failing marketers.” The company conducted a survey as well that covered marketers and ebusiness executives across the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Based on this study, Facebook does NOT create business value:

Facebook Ad Failure

This news has raised quite a stir with outlets such as Venture Beat calling the report “an embarrassment” and “distasteful.”

Facebook too responded to the report saying it was “illogical and… irresponsible.”

So, which is it? Are Facebook ads doing great, or are they a failure?

Though the story is still developing, business leaders and marketers ultimately need to analyze this data and this news based on your own perspective. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times – there is no formula for social media. What works for one company does not necessarily work for another. Yes, it can in some cases, but if there were a secret formula for success on social media, all companies would be social media rock stars. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way.

In this particular matter, it does seem clear that Facebook is continually improving its ad platform. Also, advertising on Facebook has been around for a while, so marketers who embraced it early have likely become better at it as they have gained more experience with it.

However, as you consider if Facebook ads are the way to go for your business, think about your own company goals. While studies are great tools to see what the trends are, what you’re trying to achieve with your business needs to be the ultimate decision maker.

Images courtesy of Adobe and Forrester.