It’s so easy just to lump the mega group of up-and-coming spenders under one simple name: millennials. But when it comes to marketing to them on social media, that’s a terrible idea.
“All millennials are not created equal, and I think that is the biggest mistake that companies make,” said Erin Ledbetter, Ignite Social Media’s vice president of community management.
Ledbetter, who defined the generation as people who were born in the 1980s and ’90s, said in general, small-business owners who want to engage millennials should start by being more specific.
Reports on millennials, one of the largest generations in history, indicate that the generation’s annual purchasing power ranges between $125 billion and $890 billion with consistent estimates indicating $200 billion in direct and $500 billion in indirect spending, according to a 2012 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report.
“With millennials’ peak buying power still decades away, marketers would do well to establish relationships with this consumer force,” the report states.
With all that said, owners need to start with an understanding that the Millennial generation is made of subgroups with different motivations and spending habits.
While most grew up using the Internet and can be engaged by companies on social media, the content has to be what they define as relevant.
“The thing about millennials is they engage with content, but it is very specific to them,” Ledbetter said.
The younger college-age groups are still in school, don’t have a lot of money and are much more likely to follow the social engagement pattern of teenagers, Ledbetter said.
Then there are the fresh-out-of-college young professionals who are starting to get out of touch “with whatever the shiny new object is,” don’t have a lot of money and have a very different mindset than the “affluent millennials” subgroup, who are in the 24 to 30 range, are unmarried and making a good living.
Then there are the millennials starting families in their mid-20s.
“So you really need to think about which millennials you are talking to,” Ledbetter said, and find content that is highly relevant to that subgroup’s personal lives.
Companies should find out what that group is talking about on social media, what they do on weekends, what types of websites they visit and what motivates them.
Another common mistake that companies make when they are trying to attract millennials is jumping on hot phrases, Ledbetter said, such as “Bye Felicia,” a reference to the 1995 movie “Friday” that the generation uses to refer to someone they are ready to see go.
“One of the things millennials get angry about, quite frankly, is when they see brands that seem to be trying too hard,” she said. “They see right through that.”
And you know what comes next, right?