How to Use Content Marketing to Reach Millennials
A lot has been written about millennials in recent years. And as a millennial myself, I am always a little sensitive to the disdain my generation seems to receive from older generations.
Regardless of how you feel about millennials, there is one point no one can argue with. There are a LOT of us. About 80 million to be exact.
That’s a whole lot of buying power, enough to make marketers stand up and take notice. We’re also harder to reach than previous generations. We watch a lot less TV and 84 percent of millennials do not trust advertising.
In fact, millennials tend to distrust large companies in general and see them as motivated largely by profit and greed. So this poses the big question: how can your brand sell to the generation that hates being sold to?
The answer is content marketing.
What is Content Marketing? And Why Do You Need It?
Content marketing involves creating, publishing, and distributing content to your target audience. The goal is to reach your audience without trying to persuade them to buy immediately.
I get it, this seems sort of counter-intuitive. Isn’t the entire point of marketing to convince your audience to buy from you? Yes and no.
The purpose is to create content that is interesting and relevant and convinces your audience to buy -- over time. You do this by achieving one of these four main objectives through your content:
You educate your audience:
This is content that tells your readers how they can improve their day-to-day lives. You figure out a problem your audience has and use your content to help them solve it. Blog posts are a great avenue for this.
You inform your audience:
This is content that seeks to inform your audience about news or current trends. Social media sites like Twitter or Facebook are great avenues for this.
You entertain your audience:
Is there a better marketing tactic than humor? You can do this with infographics, blog posts, and video.
You inspire your audience:
Inspiration is an aspect of content marketing that is often overlooked. Look for ways to encourage your audience to be their best selves and overcome adversity.
Don’t rely on cheap marketing tricks to try and influence your audience’s behavior. With content marketing, you guide them by through actionable and helpful content.
5 Ways to Use Content Marketing to Reach Millennials
So now that you understand what content marketing is, how can you use it to reach your millennial audience?
I have worked closely with dozens of brands to help them improve their content marketing strategy. And through my work, I have found five strategies to reach millennials through content marketing:
1. Be specific
Okay, let’s be honest -- I am doing a lot of generalizing for the sake of writing this blog post. But if you want to connect with millennials, you will avoid making those same generalizations.
Many people tend to refer to millennials like they are all exactly the same person. If you want to appeal to millennials, you are going to need to segment your audience. Targeting every millennial is too wide of a net to cast.
Create buyer personas based on their online activity, interests, education, and personal background. This will help you create content that feels personal and will resonate with your audience.
Market research can help you better understand your audience and what they need from you. Interact with your millennial audience and ask them for their feedback.
2. Go mobile
Did you know that millennials spend more than five hours a day on mobile devices? This means that your website better be mobile-optimized or you are definitely missing the mark with millennials.
Does your website load quickly? Does your blog look awesome on mobile devices? Is it formatted so that it’s easy to read and visually appealing?
Your content marketing strategy should be designed with mobile devices in mind.
3. Provide tons of value
We have already established that millennials hate advertising so I won’t harp on this point again.
But this gets to the heart of why content marketing is so effective. Instead of trying to advertise to millennials, you use your content to inform, engage, and build a relationship with them.
Millennials tend to enjoy interactive content. An example would be one of those short quizzes on Facebook with titles like, “Which Friends character are you?”
Are you utilizing video in your content marketing efforts? Millennials are much more likely to share a video than text-only content.
When you are creating content, always start by asking yourself, "What is the value that my content delivers?"
Evergreen content will always be useful to your long-term content marketing strategy. It’s also helpful to provide more edgy content that lets you stand out.
Look for current events or industry trends that are relevant to your business that you can comment on. Profile leaders in your network -- such as employees or customers -- who are doing interesting things.
4. Take advantage of social media
It’s no secret that millennials love social media. They use it for everything from connecting with friends, following the news, and reading online reviews.
You also need to be on the right social media channels. Consider a few facts:
The majority of Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 29-years-old.
41 percent of people ages 18 to 34-years-old are on Snapchat.
Trying to reach college-educated millennials? 29 percent of them are on Twitter.
And did you know that 22 percent of the world’s population is now on Facebook?
Millennials represent the largest audience on most social media platforms. This means if you are trying to reach millennials, you need to focus on social media.
5. Show your values
Millennials tend to favor brands that have a sense of social responsibility. In fact, 70 percent will spend more money with companies that support social causes they care about.
This means that millennials will be more likely to do business with your company if they see you giving back to the community in some way.
Of course, this needs to be authentic. But I am guessing that there is at least one social issue your company supports. Use your content marketing to share your company’s involvement with social causes.
Reaching millennials is a hurdle that many companies face. And ironically, this topic is often debated in board meetings where there isn’t a single millennial present.
If you want to reach millennials through content marketing, you are going to have to get to know them first. Stop cutting them out of the conversation.
You need to understand their interests, concerns, and what they are passionate about. You’re also going to need to ditch the hard sell. Focus on creating content that is informative, entertaining, and highly visual.
Hopefully, the strategies I shared with you can help you appeal to your millennial audience. What have you done so far to try to reach millennials? Let me know in the comments.