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How to Reach Millennials through Social Media and Influencer Marketing

By: Viral Nation | 6 mins read |
The rise of influencers on social media has created a whole new industry; Influencer marketing. It's an industry where marketers and brands alike collaborate with internet stars and niche personalities on campaigns often designed to target millennials. Who are millennials you ask? By now, you are likely well aware of them. But if not, they are the generation of people born between 1980 and 2000. Generally speaking, millennials happen to be part of a particular generation that has experienced the historic growth of technology since the day they were born. These people are the first generation to know nothing but the ability to use the internet as well as cell phones and innovations such as Kindles and iPads. This access also is part of the reason they have the highest spending power too. Stay with us here... A study by Millennial Marketing found that 25% of the total US population is comprised of millennials who fit the demographic mentioned above. They also make up 21% of consumer discretionary purchases, which equates to a direct buying power of about a trillion dollars. Retail e-commerce sales in the United States are booming. In 2018, online sales of physical goods amounted to $504.6 billion dollars and are projected to surpass $735 billion dollars in 2023 -- and millennials are front and center as the driving force in the explosive growth of online shopping. More good news? Millennials are currently the most valuable target demographic for modern businesses. But, with a plethora of digital marketing tactics, remarketing efforts, and email campaigns and more inundating consumers, how can brands be opportunistic and capitalize on this demographic to boost their bottom line? Go where the audience goes. And that, of course, is on social media.

Millennials use social media...constantly

A study from the Pew Research Center examined U.S. adults' use of social media. Likely to no one's surprise, the overwhelming majority of Americans regularly use social media, with a whopping 68 percent alone frequent Facebook. However, it seems that the younger the user, the more prominent the social media use. The research found that 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds and 78 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds use at least one social media channel -- which almost perfectly aligns with millennials' age group of 22 to 37.

Marketing to Millennials: How To Reach Them

One of the core fundamentals that differentiate the millennial generation from others is they possess certain ways of thinking. These ideologies shape the way brands and marketers need to approach the advertising landscape.

Millennials Are Drawn To Purpose

Millennials care about brands that stand for more than their bottom line. In fact, 37% of millennials are willing to pay a bit more for a product or service that supports a cause they believe in. Also, they value brands that enhance their lives. Their values are steeped directly in the fabric of their buying decisions.

Millennials Seek Interactions with Brands

Since they are a generation that has been raised around seemingly constant stimulation, 80% of millennials want brands to entertain them. And they want you t0 know it. 70% feel responsible to share feedback with companies after good or bad experiences. It's a generation that has been empowered to speak their minds, and that includes sharing their thoughts on their experience with your brand.

They Are The Ambassadors of the Social Media Age

Millennials are extremely active and social. Social media is their bread and butter, with 46% of millennials having at least 200 Facebook friends, compared to 19% for non-millennials. Millennials are also tech-savvy, and in turn, they are 2 and a half times more likely to be early adopters of technology. Millennials are also content creators. Over 46% post content/ videos daily that they have created themselves. Whether a skit or a selfie, the bottom line is that they are incredibly active on social media and spend mass amounts of time online.

Why are influencers so effective?

For brands hoping to gain the attention of millennials and win them over with your brands’ products or services turn to influencer marketing. Influencers are keen on millennial culture, making them the most effective ambassadors for delivering your brand message. Recommendations from influencers are highly trusted by the millennial market, far more than messages coming straight from brands themselves. There's nothing wrong with directly marketing to millennials - or any other demographic for that matter. But sending your message out through popular influencers is far more effective due to the level of trust their audience has in them, especially compared to your brand - whom they may not yet be familiar with.

Millennials and Influencer Marketing

We know what you're thinking right now. "So, what does all this millennial talk mean for marketers and brands hoping to boost their business this year?" Well for starters, it means that millennials should not be overlooked, and you can benefit tremendously if they are a primary focus of your social media and influencer marketing campaigns.  Millennials have been proven to be too progressive - in terms of early tech adoption - for traditional marketing methods (like TV ads and billboards) to be effective in garnering their interest.

Influencers are the solution

If your goal is to gain the attention of millennials and sell them on your brands’ products and mission, influencer marketing is the optimal approach.  Why? Because influencers represent the community of people who influence millennials. And with influence, comes trust. Recommendations from influencers are more highly trusted than those coming straight from brands themselves (actually, an eye-popping 92% according to Nielson Research). You wouldn't be faulted for targeting your traditional ad techniques at the millennial market. However, you simply can't replicate the authenticity and trust you gain with your customers from sending out your brand's desired message through social media influencers. Paired with a successful influencer talent agency, brands far and wide are employing the services of the millennial market's favorite online personalities and seeing tremendous ROI as a result.

Speak to their hearts and their values

One question to ask yourself is "What is your brand’s cause?" Whatever causes or values your brand stands behind, it will be amplified if shared through the voice of a social media influencer.  Think about it like this; influencers are like the 'cool kids' at school that everyone wants to be like. All the kids want to look like them, dress like them, be like them in every way. So whatever influencers wear, do, buy, use, say, millennials will take notice of intently, and their consumer decisions are directly affected by this influence. No pun intended.

Optimizing Your Influencer Campaigns with Millennial Targeting

Companies know who their target consumer audience is, generally speaking. Brands across the globe work feverishly to nail down this demographic, knowing the immense value that market share in this space provides. In turn, they are more than familiar with the age, gender, location, interests, internet engagement, and spending behaviors of customers within their specific industry. Some brands (the smart ones) even construct a customer persona of someone who buys their services or products including their name, a picture of their life, and belief system. Marketing techniques of this nature - ones that help us understand the customer at their core - are essential to bridge the gap between brand offerings and actual customer sales. It's all about conversion.

Final Thoughts

If you want to succeed in marketing to millennials, you must first and foremost embrace technology and social media. And not just embrace it casually, you must be active with utilizing it as a touchpoint between your brand and your consumers. When you are targeting millennials in your marketing plan, you know exactly where they are; social media. Utilizing influencers for your brand's marketing efforts is a smart investment for the future of your business. Not to mention the abundance of short term benefits a well-executed influencer campaign can bring. This doesn't mean brands have to discard their primary consumer focus entirely. Just because the newer generations are ideal customers doesn't mean they are the only audience. But not much has changed since the 1980s or 1990s if you think about it. Kids, teenagers, and young adults remain some of the most profitable consumers out there, and that's a trend that likely isn't going to change in the foreseeable future.  The difference now is that the internet has changed the world and how we live in it, and prolific use by younger generations has created shifts in consumer behaviors. This fact makes influencer marketing an ideal conduit when brands wish to reach their young audience. For all the cultural jokes and stereotypes associated with millennials, they are at the core of the economy. And their dollars are as green as the next person's.  


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_About the author
Viral Nation

Viral Nation is a new media innovation group that powers the social ecosystem through integrated solutions that align strategy, talent, media, and technology. As pioneers in the influencer space, Viral Nation is comprised of a full-service creative agency, a creator and athlete-influencer representation agency, and a technology division creating modern marketing solutions for the social media age.