Villing & Company

The Misunderstood Millennials

I’m a Millennial. Let me get that out of the way right off the bat. I understand, then, that you may think I am slightly biased when looking at that headline. Fair assumption, however, some recent data I saw in this article from MediaPost leads me to believe that Millennials are sometimes misunderstood.

Millennials are somewhat of a focal point in marketing circles these days. The Millennial Generation (also known as Generation Y) is vaguely outlined as anyone born between the early 1980’s and 2000. That means that many Millennials are now in the workforce and their purchasing power is growing rapidly.

If you automatically associate Millennials with social media obsession, you may be driven to adopt every social media channel you can find. However, that might just be a mistake. In fact, this recent article from Adweek gets right to the heart of the problem. Lumping large groups of people together due to their similar ages alone isn’t generational marketing. It’s generalization marketing.

What you can be sure of, is that Millennials are social media savvy. There’s a distinction here. Many of us who fall into this generation have grown up in a world where social media was common. We understand the language and communication tools that social media offers. To reach such users, you must be savvy and strategic as well. Focus your efforts strategically on a few social media outlets, rather than casting too wide a net.

Also, don’t assume that Millennials have given up on more traditional forms of communication. Face-to-face interactions, as outlined in the research I cited earlier, are still very meaningful to Millennials. Social media interactions are not always authentic, and authenticity is certainly something we all strive for in relationships, both personal and professional. Look no further than the recent attention-grabbing decision made by 19-year-old model Essena O’Neill to completely delete her Instagram account, and you will see that some Millennials are becoming more cautious about their online presences.

So what exactly am I getting at? Well, it all comes down to knowing your target market. Understanding your audience is always a key in marketing decisions, and that is no different when talking about Millennials. Be strategic in your messaging, knowing that users who have grown up with social media will able to see right through purely self-serving attempts at engagement. Above all, be authentic. Know your brand, and don’t jump on every new platform. If it doesn’t support your brand strategy, it’s probably not worth the effort to be there.

These tactics are good to keep in mind for any target market, not just Millennials. So when the post-Millennial Generation is all grown up and being misunderstood, strategy and authenticity should serve your marketing efforts equally well.

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