Employer Branding

5-Step Guide: Marketing to So-Called ‘Millennials’

Millennials, millennials, millennials. What if someone told you that they don’t even exist? Well, they’re about to.

Brenda Wong is the social media and community manager at Debut, a careers app that is targeted toward students and recent graduates. Her role is all about engaging people. Not just any people – the right people who happen to be these so-called millennials.

You can listen to our interview on iTunes or SoundCloud. Keep reading for a summary of our chat.

Millennials don’t really exist

Brenda believes that millennials don’t really exist. She know it’s a controversial statement:

“Millennials is a term, of course, it exists. But what I’m really trying to put across to anybody I speak to, whether it’s an employer, or my friend, or somebody at the pub, whenever somebody uses the word millennial, they’re referring to a huge group of people. So companies tend to want to put demographics into these squares into square, circle into circle thing. But real life doesn’t work like that. So there are about 13.8 million millennials in the UK. So this is like a figure that I got from The Guardian about a year ago. And apparently, this group of people has an age range of 15 years, they come from different social classes, they come from different cultures, genders, backgrounds, sexualities. Millennials don’t exist, because it’s impossible to market to that big of a group. And if you want to try marketing to millennials, you’re just going to be wrong, because that’s impossible.”

Brenda’s 5-step guide to reaching out to these people

Step 1 – Research & tailor campaigns

“The first tip is echoing my whole millennials don’t exist thing. Tailor your campaigns. Researching who your target audience is and constantly updating that research is so important. So young people occupy different kinds of tribes. So you can have young people into K-Pop, or grime music, or somebody who’s obsessed with the Kardashian family. And they all fit into different tribes. You need to do your researches into whether your product is going to be applicable to them, whether they can relate to it, and then from there you make up your own specialized custom audience. Always do that.”

Step 2 – Forget the negatives

“Number two, don’t jump on the negative millennial bandwagon. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen articles slamming millennials at all? The gist is that they are lazy, entitled. They can’t use things that are not touch screen example. And there was a hashtag, I think how to confuse a millennial. It was just horrible. They were like, “Put them in a phone booth and watch how confused they are.” People love to hate on millennials, but what I would suggest to brands is don’t fall for that. I think encouraging positivity and light is actually a much better approach when it comes to marketing to the millennial group. BuzzSumo that did this huge piece of research on the top 1,000 articles shared in the first half of 2016. And 70% of the articles shared had a positive sentiment. So it’s clear that people tend to share good news and stuff that is happy and positive and cheerful.”

Step 3 – Get ‘in the know’

“Practical tip number three, jumping on current events is a good idea but only when you do it your way. So I don’t know if you’ve heard but we had a major election recently. So I was at Old Street Station, I’m based around Old Street. And there was an amazing pop-up by a company called Appear Here. They took the election and they popped up a store in Old Street. And it allowed passersby to kind of vote for who they wanted. Because obviously we don’t get to vote in the US election. But they gave cards to us and we could just put it in the box. And we had a little chat as to what’s going to happen. And you can even take away branded Hillary or Donald Trump cupcakes with you. It’s leveraging a current event and doing it in their own style, which I found really impressive.”

Step 4 – Understand personal brand

“Number four, become part of their personal brand. So this is a bit of a sneaky one because we’re trying to get young people to share stuff, all the time. We want people to not only engage with it, like, and forget about it. We want them to be part of our brand journey. So you have to make things extremely visually beautiful. Make stuff worth sharing. So a great example of personal and corporate branding, of that marriage between the two, is Buffer. Buffer’s Instagram is #InstagramGold. They take beautiful images taken by their users, so they’ve got user generated content. And they mix in together stuff like a beautiful office with a Buffer sticker on the back of a laptop. So it’s like kind of subliminally inserting images into people’s minds, associating their brand with something amazing.”

Step 5 – Be open & useful

“The final one is to be open, be useful, and always give back. Successful content in a content saturated world usually has one of two things. Either a personal edge or that piece of content is truly and absolutely the most useful version of that piece. So Google can either be your enemy or your friend in this circumstance. If somebody Googles you and says, “Okay, your content isn’t very good,” the millennials see right through you. They’re digital natives. And with a few taps on their touch screen, they can completely decimate your brand. So you have to be really careful about what you put out there. And be completely honest about who you are, be transparent in your content. The best performing piece of content on Debut we’ve had so far was a piece about going back to university after you’ve graduated. And it was a very personal piece by one of our writers. And it takes the readers on a journey and actually really resonates emotionally with our readers. It’s not enough to be shiny, happy people all the time. You have to be true.”

Follow Brenda on Twitter @BrendaIsARebel.

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By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.