As TechRadar recently noted, Millennials hold the future of content marketing in their hands. Well, maybe in one hand. They’ve got to use the other hand to hold their iPhones, of course.
But the problem for marketers is that 45 percent of Millennials don’t trust the content they’re pushing out, making it difficult for even the savviest CMOs to reach this audience. Good marketers understand the value of content, but great marketers know that to win over Millennials, you have to embrace the social influences that dictate their everyday lives.
Millennials have a reputation for being lazy, entitled, and disrespectful scatterbrains. But as a Millennial, working for a company founded by Millennials, I know these stereotypes don’t reflect the entire generation.
It’s true: We expect a lot. When we’re looking for information, we expect to find it — and fast. The Internet has fed this sense of entitlement, especially because we’ve never known a world without easy access to information. It’s up to marketers to meet these rising expectations — or risk becoming irrelevant.
According to a Yahoo study, U.S. Millennials will have $1.4 trillion in spending power by the year 2020. And if marketers want a piece of that pie, they’ll need to understand what Millennials value in content.
One reason that more than 40 percent of Millennials distrust content marketing is likely that they don’t understand what it is. This is how Influence & Co. defines it:
“The process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience, with the objective of driving a profitable customer action.”
Millennials don’t necessarily dislike content marketing; they’re just tired of boring, blatantly promotional content, which unfortunately is common these days. Add the fact that most marketers can’t keep up with the evolving needs of Millennials, and you can see that engaging Millennials through content becomes nearly impossible. To appeal to Millennials, marketers need to think like them.
Millennials spend nearly 18 hours a day with media, according to a study by Crowdtap and Ipsos MediaCT. They’re constantly absorbing new information, and they’re quick to move on from a piece of content if it doesn’t resonate. To make a lasting impression on Millennials, marketers should adopt these six strategies:
1. Learn their language, and go native. Millennials are digital natives. They’ve grown up during the digital revolution and have established their own digital language — one that many marketers don’t understand. To get through to them, marketers must learn this language and produce content that’s seamlessly embedded in the platforms they use every day.
2. Be authentic, and don’t try to sell. Millennials can sniff out a sales pitch from a mile away. Successful content marketers know they can never dupe their audiences. Millennials crave compelling content that teaches or entertains, and promotional plugs turn them off. If you offer meaningful and original content, they’ll be more likely to engage with your content — and tell their networks about it, too.
3. Embrace storytelling and humor. Millennials expect an emotional payoff from branded content. They want to feel something, and they respond especially well to humor. In fact, in a Comedy Central study, 88 percent of young people cited humor as part of their self-definition. Everyone loves a good story, especially one that results in laughs. Mix storytelling and humor in your content, and you’ll meet that demand.
4. Include Millennials in the content creation process. Millennials want to create content with you, and with new social platforms sprouting up every day, it’s becoming increasingly easy to make this happen. Find ways to create an open dialogue with Millennials through user reviews and testimonials. Show you value their input by extending an invitation to take part in the content creation process.
They’ll thank you with social media shout-outs. And because 50 percent of Millennials trust user-generated content more than any other type of media, they’re sure to spread your message like wildfire.
5. Offer useful information. Millennials have zero tolerance for irrelevant content. The Yahoo study revealed that 75 percent expect content to teach them something and make them smarter. So marketers need to produce content that’s useful. Don’t give Millennials a reason to ignore your content. Deliver a customized experience, and let them know you’re there to help.
6. Never stop evolving. Technology is constantly changing and improving, and marketers need to keep pace. Allow Millennials to grow with your brand by staying current with industry trends. Remain active in online communities and take risks with your content. You’ll fuel their creativity and encourage them to become natural brand ambassadors.
Millennials are natural-born content marketers. They just might not know it yet. This is a generation of creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the digital space. Media isn’t something Millennials simply consume. It’s become so integrated into their lives that they inherently understand what makes it compelling.
As a marketer, you can’t discount this generation’s needs. You might have to work a little harder to produce content that reflects the rising expectations of Millennials, but if you get them on board with your content, they’ll repay you by becoming loyal brand advocates and active social media supporters.