Millennials – are the subject of a huge amount of discussion. They have been “connected” since they were toddlers; they have strong opinions about saving the planet; their social/leisure time is important; they have a very non-traditional approach to work, much to the chagrin of baby boomers and many Gen X-er’s. There was recently even a hilarious song written about them that has gone viral. And given that they are the largest online market demographic today, no company can afford to ignore them with their marketing outreach. And so, companies establish a large presence on social media and try to court relationships with millennials based upon what they believe millennials value.
But here’s the thing: How much in common do 19-year-olds have with 35-year-olds? Not much, actually. And yet they are all bunched together in this one millennial demographic. Even if we divide them by age into younger, middle and older groupings, moreover, we still must divide them more. Consider young millennials for example – the 19-23-year-old group let’s say. We still must divide them further:
- College students
- High school grads who are working
- Males and females
- Wealthy, middle-class and poor
The middle and older millennials can be divided in the same way, making a total of 16 very specific demographics with very different values, purchasing behaviors, and social media preferences. While all of these are predominantly on Facebook, they use Facebook for different reasons, and they share very different things. Beyond that, some prefer Twitter; some prefer Snapchat; some prefer Instagram, and some prefer social media sites that are not as commonly used – Kik and Yik-Yak, for example.
While there may be 16 specific millennial sub-populations, much of their social media favoritism is based upon age. You would be hard-pressed, for example, to find older millennials on Kik, and you would probably find a minority of younger millennials on Twitter.
Marketers Will Need to Target More Specifically
As the number of social media venues continue to grow, and as sub-groups within millennials pick and choose among them, the job of a content marketer becomes more complex. They will have to move beyond the generalized characteristics of this generation and dig much deeper into where their specific audiences are. A brand that wants to target the 25-30-year-old range, for example, will not find many on a platform like Kik or even Snapchat. Likewise, a brand targeting likely consumers of hoverboards would use these two channels.
Companies will need to focus on their current customers, finding them on social media platforms, and listening to them, so that they can build the very specific customer personas that comprise their target markets.
Once that persona has been carefully described, social media listening will provide insights into their belief, values, and interests. You can track the types of content they share with one another; you can read their comments and those of their communities; you can read their praises and criticisms as they post reviews of companies; you can learn from the platforms they are using. You can now refine your efforts and reduce the number of social media platforms you are trying to maintain.
The Role of Targeted Advertising
The other beauty of many platforms, such as Facebook, is that you can target your specific persona with advertising.
- If your customer is a male between the ages of 18 and 24 who are in college, then you can choose to target your advertising specifically to that group. 32-year-olds will not see your ads – it would be a waste of time and your money to do so. And the technology to identify these groups for targeting is quite sophisticated.
- And on Facebook, at least, you can also target audiences based upon interests.
- On LinkedIn, you can target by specific careers
- On Twitter, you can target groups of users or your competitors
In short, you can get more and more specific about the audiences you are marketing to and make your social media marketing far more efficient.
Making Meaning Out of the Meaningless
Social media marketing to millennials is definitely meaningless if businesses, content marketers and bloggers continue to group them all together. Making broad, sweeping generalizations about millennials, like the song referenced in the opening paragraph, causes businesses to develop marketing strategies that only target one segment of this very diverse and divided generation. The overall image we get of them is that of young careerists seeking meaningful employment that also allows them the time and freedom to pursue their family and social lives. This broad stereotype leaves out a huge chunk of this generation who are also avid consumers. The only way to make meaning out of marketing to this generation is to identify the sub-groups, create unique personas for them, and then target them as the differentiated groups that they are.