As a marketing professor, my days are filled with Millenials who challenge many assumptions shared by older folks. But, who are Millenials? And why should we care about them? And, how are Millenials affecting marketing, especially social media marketing?
Who are Millenials?
Millenials are the tail end of Generation Y (or Gen Y), the cohort born between about 1980 and 2000 and, just like Baby Boomers, and Generation X before them, this generation has its own character. Learning more about that character helps you market to them more effectively and manage them when they’re on your payroll. So, here are a few facts about Millenials, from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School:
What’s so interesting about Millenials?
Well, lots of things. First, soon they’ll make up almost half of all employees and that percentage is even greater if you’re in a tech company. That’s because Millenials are more tech savvy than previous generations because they were surrounded by technology growing up. My daughter — in about the middle of the Millenial range — grew up on the computer. I remember before she could read, she’d sit at my computer and copy words from a book. She was an expert typist (something my generation looked down on) before she finished elementary school and still figures out a new cell phone or other electronic device before anyone else. Adults bring her their devices so she can show them how to save contacts, share pictures, or what have you.
They’re also a highly educated group — most with at least a high school degree and many with college backgrounds. They’re frustrated that they’re more highly educated than many of their bosses.
They’re also the most social group around and the percentage of Millenials in social media is very high. Millenials in social media also use social networks more hours per day than most other users.
Millenials are concerned about your social media policy and ready to turn down your offer if you infringe on the privacy of their social media or restrict their access to their social network.
But, that doesn’t mean you should turn your social media campaign over to your intern or new hire. Sure. Millenials use social media more extensively than others and have used them longer, but BUSINESS use of social media is VERY different from PERSONAL use of social media.
Millenials developed larger networks on Facebook and Twitter and created YouTube videos as an extension of (some say a replacement for) their social world. They were unconcerned about whether they created engagement or whether their message traveled through cyberspace. They were just sharing with friends. The tactics they employ in their personal networks can tank your business network or, at a minimum, fail to generate positive results.
But, while you may not want to just hand your social media campaign to your Millenials, you need them involved in your social media marketing efforts because they have large, diverse networks that can speed messages. Understanding what motivates Millenials can help you harness their social connections to promote your business.
How do you market to Millenials?
These kids never saw a record — they grew up on iPods and iTunes. And Apple is capitalizing on the hold they’ve long held in the educational market — kids who grew up using Macs in school are now buying Macs for college and encouraging employers to buy Macs for the office. Despite its much higher price, probably 90% of my students bring Macs to class and nearly all have iPhones and/ or iPods.
Marketing to Millenials means understanding them and avoiding stereotypes which can turn off any subgroup. For instance, Millenials are a very ethnically diverse group with a propensity to avoid social conventions. They’re more tolerant of mixed race families and more likely to support same-sex marriage. They’re also an entrepreneurial group with a penchant toward leading rather than following. Connecting with Millenials means showing these positive elements.
Millenials are changing notions of marketing through traditional media because they don’t read newspapers and they watch TV online or TIVO, where they don’t see your commercials. Reaching Millenials in social media is critical. But, Millenials are in social media to socialize with friends, so using disruptive marketing techniques won’t work for them.