Welcome to the inaugural edition of Social Millennial Today! My name is Tai and I am currently a business undergraduate at UC Berkeley and the Haas School of Business. At UC Berkeley, I also teach an undergraduate course in social media marketing and networking. The Social Millennial Today column will focus on all things millennials, social media, and marketing.
Millennial Workforce Shift
The buzz for 2015 has been on the millennial generation. Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are those in the age bracket of 18-35 years old. They are young as college freshmen and old as professionals with over a decade of work experience.
Unlike any previous generation, millennials are native to technology and social media. Younger millennials grew up with technology. Older millennials were early tech adopters as they entered the workforce. Millennials rely on social media to connect with their peers and, recently, with brands.
Source: Pew Research Center
Why should marketers care about millennials? By the end of this year, over 50 million millennials will overtake Gen Xers to become the dominant workforce in America. With this workforce shift, millennials will soon become the generation with the most spending power. According to one study, the millennial generation is estimated to spend $200 billion annually by 2017 and $10 trillion over their lifetime. Capturing the millennial dollar is more important than ever before.
Brands from Whole Foods to Google are now shifting their attention to this lucrative target market. To win over millennials, marketers will first have to align their social strategy with these three millennial values.
Three Values: Authenticity, Network, Accessibility
Millennials expect companies to be genuine when it comes to branded content. In the early digital age, push marketing was semi-effective. Brands would bombard consumers with as many ads as possible, hoping that a few would work (spray and pray).
Today millennial consumers are more tech savvy and when given a choice between ads or no ads, they will choose the latter (i.e. AdBlock). Brands with good content will naturally be rewarded with the attention and engagement with millennials. Millennials want their social experience with brands to be organic and seamless.
Social media is built upon weak, mild, and strong ties. On a day-to-day basis, millennials rely on this complex network. They rely on LinkedIn to network with other professionals and Quora to ask community based questions. For quality of life, they rely on Yelp to find local restaurants rated by their peers.
All three social platforms, LinkedIn, Quora, and Yelp, rely on an intricate network to function. Brands must recognize that even the most convincing advertisement is not as valued as the word-of-mouth generated by a millennial's network. Again, authenticity matters. Millennials value their network because it is composed of people they trust. The marketing goal for 2015 should be to get millennials to begin adopting brands into their trusted network.
Millennials judge information with two criteria: quality and accessibility. Quality wise, millennials expect information to be presented with integrity. Once a source is deemed inaccurate by millennials, word-of-mouth takes over in the social sphere and such source will be avoided by everyone else in the future.
Information efficiency is equally important as quality. A recent millennial trend is the rise of mobile consumption. Sites that do not support mobile will find themselves losing on potential millennial leads. Even Google has recently updated their search engine algorithm to down rank websites that do not support mobile.
In the upcoming months, I will discuss how marketers can optimize their strategy to capture the attention of the millennial generation. Themes ranging from must-know millennial social media trends to content and employment branding strategy. Social Millennial Today will return every first Friday of the month.
What are your thoughts on the millennials and their impact on the future of marketing? Discuss strategies that your brand has initiated to engage with the millennial generation. Selected tweets will be featured in the next edition of Social Millennial Today. Join the conversation, and tweet @taictran with #socialmillennialtoday.
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Social Millennial Today is an exclusive Social Media Today column that runs on the first Friday of every month.