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5 Tips for Marketing to Millennials

Keep these ideas in mind to connect with the generation that dominates the American workforce.

By Mitra Sorrells October 8, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT

Participating in a discussion about marketing to millennials were (pictured, left to right) moderator Justice Mitchell, C.E.O. of Big Block Studios; P.J. Leimgruber, co-founder and C.O.O. of NeoReach; Melissa Albers, director of social media for Full Sail University; and Jonathan Faulkner, director of integrated media for iHeart Media.

Photo: Courtesy Orlando iX

According to the Pew Research Center, more than one in three American workers today are millennials, which it defines as anyone currently ages 18 to 34, and this year the demographic surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. So naturally planners and marketers are interested in understanding this generation and how to attract its members' time, attention, and spending. At the inaugural Orlando iX tech festival, which took place Friday to Tuesday at the Orange County Convention Center, a panel discussion on “Marketing to Millennials” attracted hundreds of people who work in the industries of interactive media, entertainment technology, digital arts, and more. Here are five main points the panelists shared.

Millennials consume content in bite-size pieces.
“Clients and brands still really love blogs, but millennials by and large aren’t reading blogs anymore. Millennials' attention spans are so short—a quick view of a photo on Instagram, a six-second video on Vine. So how can we get our message across in a way that’s organic, that’s integrated with the typical experience that they are used to having on these social networks, and then we have to get it across very, very fast,” said P.J. Leimgruber, co-founder and C.O.O. of NeoReach, a social media influencer marketing platform.

Visual content is critical.
“There are so many social channels that they are using every day. We try to be wherever they are in as many of those places at the right moment of how they use it. But the top three for millennials are Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. Sixty percent of the audience for Snapchat is millennials. It’s a huge area for brands to have a big opportunity to get in there. So you have to have a very strong visual and tell a story through that visual content,” said Melissa Albers, director of social media for Full Sail University.

Create a consistent message.
“You get a lot of different companies and brands that want to focus on one specific social media. And it just doesn’t work. In marketing we want to have that reach and that frequency, so it’s a combination of both. And to build frequency with millennials you have to be everywhere they are, and you also want to make sure your message is the same across the platforms. The delivery can be different but you want your message to be the same. Otherwise you lose that frequency opportunity,” said Jonathan Faulkner, director of integrated media for iHeart Media.

When working with influencers, strive for authenticity.
“Influencers and Viners don’t want to be shills, but they rely on the sponsored content to thrive. So making that crossroads in an organic way is very important. Consider how are they are typically communicating with their audience, especially if they are a cross-platform influencer,” Leimgruber said. “If a brand likes a person or if they feel this influencer’s audience connects with their brand’s audience, then they need to find the right channel to tell that story. For example, it might not be Vine; Instagram may be better. Or having that influencer at an event and live-streaming that event might be better.”

Shares are more important than likes.
“The ‘share’ story tells us a lot more. It’s going to tell us that they are involved, that they are engaging with the product, and then also you are getting your reach out of that. We don’t look at reach independently or ‘likes’ independently. At the end of the day, what really is a ‘like’ if you’re not going to do anything with that like. But ‘shares’ kind of tell the whole story. If we can get someone to share whatever it is we are posting, to me that’s a win,” Faulkner said.

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