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Is Content Marketing the only way left to millennials’ hearts?

It’s hard to get the attention of Millennials. This ‘always switched on’ generation lead busy lives, so have an average attention span of eight seconds.

Research has found that Millennials are bombarded with more than 5,000 marketing messages a day. They have learned how to tune out anything that doesn’t immediately resonate with them and brands continue struggling to create reasons for their customers to talk about them. We have to work harder to inspire – and I, for one, think that is a good thing.

In some ways, content marketing is the only marketing left. Traditional push marketing no longer works with this generation. You cannot solve your problems through buying advertising space, particularly digitally.  The good news is that content marketing, done right, can be the path to ad-loathing Millennials’ hearts.

Content marketing in its current form allows brands more room for subtlety; to get noticed by helping and inspiring people before selling to them; to build trust and earn ultimate referral to friends and family that eventually gets you customers. At the core of the principles behind content marketing lies the conviction that if potential buyers are presented with interesting and relevant information, they will ultimately become customers. 

There are several content marketing definitions available. My preferred view is that content marketing is a process of creating and distributing non-commercial information that is valuable to customers. It promotes information and ideas, not products or services directly. Content marketing isn’t advertorial and should never be self-serving.

Millennials are highly sensitive to people and businesses that are not seeking a win-win situation, so if the brands’ messages don’t resonate with a young person’s life, they are seen as ineffective self-promoters and are immediately ignored.

Marketing WITH Millennials (not TO them)

Millennials, the largest and most connected generation in western history, are those born between1980-2000. New technologies have shaped this generation socially, politically and culturally, so that their identities cannot be separated from the advent of the digital age.  

I believe that the non-hierarchical, interactive and knowledge-led nature of the internet, which allows debates to spark and conversations to evolve organically, has enabled this generation to take control of their consumption like no generation before them.

Gen Y doesn’t need brands to overtly promote products as they have in the past, because everything we want to know about any subject is at our fingertips. Buying decisions are less influenced by repeated exposure to the same message. Instead, they are built on conversations and information – in other words, they are built on content.

Brands should of course, bear in mind that not all Millennials are the same, and they will not all respond to the same content or messages. If you are a marketer looking to engage young people, target consumers by life stage, not age. A 34 year old Millennial is likely more career and family oriented than a 16 year old in school, for example.

There is a misleading stereotype that Millennials are just a bunch of hipsters who take selfies and share content like crazy. In reality, the average person will not analyse content or brands that much at all. People are not all sitting by their smartphones desperately waiting to pick up messages coming from brands, they are sitting there to pick up messages coming from friends, family or people they look up to. People’s lives don’t revolve around brand content because they have better things to do.
 
There is a strong argument that social media is over-rated for brands, because ultimately on social media people follow people not brands. If you look at the top 100 most followed Canadian accounts on Twitter, you’ll see the first 24 are people (personalities, celebrities, musicians). The most popular Canadian Justin Bieber alone has 27 times more Twitter fans than the top 10 Canadian brands combined.

The legendary copywriter Dave Trott (who I’m a big fan of – both on and off Twitter) rightly said that in order to persuade somebody to do something, you need to get their attention first. You need to have an impact upon them. They need to see, stop and think before they can be persuaded to take action.

Getting it right

What is the best way to have an impact on Millennials? The Youth Trends Report 2015, which focuses on the latest social, cultural and digital trends amongst 16-24 year olds in the UK, found that short, concise, visual and collaborative content is where the focus should be when it comes to online campaigns.

Don’t take up too much of busy consumers’ time, they’d rather spend it with friends and family – instead offer them short, insightful campaigns and services that enhance their hectic lifestyles.

Co-creation is at the heart of what we do at Caliber. With our recent #nameourplane campaign, which attracted over 1 million visitors in less than a month, we helped Thomson Airways to crowdsource a name for their new 787 Dreamliner in a visual, fun and concise manner. We believe that by including customers in the development process, we help brands to gain loyalty and build their community of advocates and fans. Generation Y are influenced by their peers more than they are by brands, so creating a place where they can interact with their peers is essential.

Millenials interact with brands if and when they want to.  Get the conversations right and your brand will reap the rewards.

Tanya Korobka is media relations manager at Caliber and founder of Lucky Attitude, the only millennial marketing blog in the UK.

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