Rules of Engagement: Creating Content For Millennials
Trigger Warning: This post is about millennials.
I had some choices when writing this post. I could try to deny my own membership in the much-maligned millennial generation. After all, I’m on the older side of the contingent; there’s an argument to be made that I’m an in-betweener — an “Xennial,” old enough to be sad when Kurt Cobain died but not old enough to drive without a parent on 9/11. But it’s a stretch.
Thank goodness there are tools out like there like the Pew Research Center’s quiz, “How Millennial Are You?” to lay all debate of micro-generations to rest.
To some, the fact that I jumped at the chance to use an interactive tool to tell me highly personalized information about me (me, me!) is just about as “millennial” as it gets. But I posit this: what’s most “millennial” about the exercise isn’t the gravitation toward something necessarily “quiz-y,” but rather the impulse to research the hell out of the subject at hand . . . which I promise I’m getting to.
How do millennials like me consume their content? There are buckets of data on the subject. But, why should you care? Well, the statistics are there: despite stereotypes to the contrary and a recession, we are employed, have (some) buying power, and represent nearly half of all B2B researchers.
Even better, now that I’ve sold you, however begrudgingly, on why it’s important to market to millennials, how can you capture this audience’s attention, even without an interactive quiz or fancy graphic? Let’s talk through some tactics.
Make personalization a priority.
Since we really are the “me” generation, the preeminent narcissists, we naturally respond best to content that makes a strong case for what a given person/product/service has to do with moi. We want to see ourselves — or who we aspire to be — in the thing we’re being sold. (If this is starting to sound like age-old marketing strategy that’s worked for generations, you wouldn’t be wrong).
How can you achieve this deeply intimate conversation with the discerning millennial customer? One way is by using the data you’re inevitably collecting to personalize the heck out of your campaigns. Because that’s the thing about millennials — the veil of privacy has been pierced. We know you’re monitoring our behavior online and aggregating little bits of relevant information to create a profile and (you hope) learn enough to “hack” our buying patterns and make a sale. For pity’s sake, we GIVE companies like FitBit our height, weight, embarrassing eating habits, and more so that we CAN be monitored. So, in a world where we know that corporations and institutions have tons of data about us, much of which we’ve provided voluntarily, it annoys us when they don’t use that information to make a competitive case for purchase.
Convenience is king.
Convenience of content is pretty darn important to millennials, too. After all, we swipe for dates, to delete emails, to order sushi, to engage, to ignore . . . and on and on. Many of the most popular, best trafficked websites out there aggregate content for one-stop shopping of the stickiest (albeit sometimes the most inane) headlines in cyberland — think Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Slate. I’m not advocating that you strive to make your business a leading aggregator of industry content, or that you resort to click bait-y content to capture attention — there are media outlets for that, and they’re probably much better equipped to do the job of scouring the Internet for relevant (and sometimes not-so-relevant) content than you are. What you can do, though, is make sure that your website and social properties have regular, timely posts that offer readers (read: potential customers) access to relevant information without leaving your owned channels. Example: You sell data security tools. Don’t make potential customers leave your website to find out how a given piece of encryption legislation before Congress would affect the type of products you sell. Include a link, or even a whole sidebar, with the information. This ensures that you become a relevant, trusted source for information that potential customers will return to time and again.
But authenticity is queen. And the queen rules the castle.
Perhaps nothing is more important to the savvy millennial consumer than to feel that the bill of goods they’re being sold isn’t a load of crap. My advice: Don’t underestimate the importance of your blog. Sure, you have one, and maybe you even post on it regularly. But are you just recycling and re-packaging stuff you’ve written about before or stuff you’ve found elsewhere online? Don’t do that. Blogs are really important to us, and not just us. Millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers all say they consume blog articles more than any other type of content. Don’t squander your blog — it’s your chance to show your readers what you know and create a relationship with them. Yes, we love video, podcasts, interactive graphics. But the blog holds court above all, at least for now.
Despite the millennial hype and hatred, the eternal principles of what makes good content hold true for us, too. It’s also true that yes, you’ll want to be thoughtful about packaging (convenience, consume-ability), because our thumbs have gotten really used to swiping left to move right along, away from what you have to offer. Thanks, Tinder!