Not many generations spend as much time online as “millennials”—young adults who grew up during the rise of the Internet. Because of this, building brand loyalty online is all about catering to these consumers, which can be difficult at times since millennials are more accustomed to ignoring advertisements. Marketing professionals are constantly trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t to engage millennial audiences, and the theme that continues to emerge is that authentic content is what drives brand loyalty among the millennial demographic. So what does that mean for your content marketing strategy? In short, it means you’ll have to earn the millennial demographics’ trust by building an authentic, consistent and natural content strategy that will draw in younger consumers while keeping them coming back for more.
Why is Brand Authenticity Important?
In our digital world, it is easy to default to advertising that uses manipulated images and misleading phrasing to sell an idea. Millennials know this and are therefore more likely to respond positively to content that goes against the perceived artificiality of traditional advertising and “salesy” pitches. This is particularly the case for young women, who are increasingly disillusioned by the heavily manipulated images of models to sell products.
As the kissmetrics blog notes:
“The more virtual our lives get, the more we hunger after something genuine. What people want now is not just a product or a service, it’s an experience. An experience that is more honest and transparent …more authentic – and businesses are going to have to keep up with growing consumer authority and give people what they want if they want to survive.”
Individuality is imperative to millennials, and they want to work with companies who embrace this authenticity, speaking to them as individuals. From a marketing standpoint, that means sending conversational, consistent content that’s relevant to the millennial audience through channels like blog posts and social media. Consistent authenticity resonates with the millennial generation, which currently makes up 25% of the United States population and controls about $200 billion of direct spending power.
Authenticity is also crucial for attracting millennial consumers due to the way they research purchases. With so many opportunities to review and rate products online, most millennials will do at least some research before deciding on a product to buy. If companies are not transparent and honest about their products and intentions, a millennial audience can turn on them very quickly. Word of mouth feedback (good and bad) travels much more rapidly these days via all the digital channels and networks available to consumers.
Why Most Online Ads Don’t Attract Millennials
Marketing strategies are always changing, and while advertisements were an important tool in the past for driving brand loyalty and sales, the younger generation today is simply not responding to ads the way Baby Boomers and Gen Xers do. Entrepreneur gets to the heart of why ads are becoming an obsolete tool for targeting millennials: younger people want to associate narratives with brands they shop, not pushy ads that pop up on the side of the screen or before the content they want.
Ad-blockers have become hugely popular, and even when they are not in use, many millennial users will skip video ads and ignore or minimize content without giving it a second thought. While a commercial may tell a mini story, millennials want deeper narratives that don’t overtly “sell”, and they want to be able to connect with the content they’re consuming. That’s one of the reasons savvy businesses are pulling back from advertising services and focusing more on content marketing and innovative content mediums like video and social sites.
Making Content Authentic and Natural
When it comes to creating authentic content, think back to the core goals of your company and share your passion and purpose with your audience. Exhibit social responsibility, and think about how your organization will impact your customers and your community before you start shaping your content. Millennials will look for consistent, transparent messages and hold your brand to those standards.
It may seem strange to leave the sales out of marketing, but that’s exactly what your company needs to do to engage a millennial audience with your content. Millennials are inundated with advertisements on a daily basis, and seek out content that does not directly push a product or service, but instead offers them value that will enrich their lives or provide needed information. Authentic, natural content tells a story and leaves the sales talk at the door. Remember, the content itself will organically create brand awareness for your company, which eventually will lead to sales if executed properly.
Establishing a relationship early on with millennials is the way to build trust and engagement. Leveraging their buying power involves building an authentic content marketing strategy that revolves around creating content that is relevant and valuable to a millennial audience. Authentic content millennials connect with will be shared across social media channels and begin to build positive associations with a brand. This approach takes more time than advertisements, but this content marketing approach drives long-term loyalty and is essential to gaining millennial interest in any product or service.
How Can You Leverage Authentic Content?
It may seem difficult to reach the millennial audience, but the good news is that they appear to be receptive to content from company communication channels—as long as that content is relevant and useful. A study by NewsCred showed that 47% of the millennials surveyed open company content, and 62% said that reading a company’s content made them feel more connected to a brand.
Once you’re creating the kind of content millennials are looking for, you’ll need to engage with them. Respond to messages on social media naturally—sincerely react to both positive and negative messages in a way that respects each person’s individuality and addresses the feedback directly. Consistency is just as important in social media posts as authenticity is in blog posts. Listen, engage, be a part of their lives and your millennial audience will respond.