By now, pretty much every organization understands that to reach a mass audience, it’s critical to have a social media strategy. However, a strategy requires more than just a bunch of posts – especially to reach the coveted millennial demographic – and announcements of company promotions. Millennials want brands to engage them – 62% of millennials report that they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them – but they are also pretty picky about what “engagement” means. This is a generation that embraces values like change, choice and collaboration – and they’re not afraid to turn their back on a brand that makes a misstep and offends them, something that McDonald’s learned the hard way, when they invited bands to play for free at South By Southwest in Austin, TX. People were outraged at the thought that a huge corporation like McDonalds would use artists for publicity, without compensation, and the campaign completely backfired, badly hurting their brand among enlighten and cultural savvy youth. Another big fail in 2015 was the #MYNYPD hashtag which was supposed to draw support for New York Police Department officers. Instead, it flung a lot of criticism their way.
While you might not make big, obvious mistakes like McDonald’s, there are plenty of little waves you can cause that will be just enough to turn off the coveted millennial consumer. First and foremost, young people hate when organizations don’t take them seriously. This means everything from infantilizing them by telling them what they want or need – for example, pushing big, “practical” purchases like cars and houses on a generation that values experiences over ownership – to ignoring online reviews. In fact, how you choose to respond to online reviews – on Facebook, Yelp, Google or other channel – can be a death knell for an organization. According to Search Engine Land, 79% of consumers trust online reviews. And while a slew of positive reviews is ideal, how you choose to respond to negative reviews is sometimes even more important. Rather than delete or ignore criticisms – pretending like they’ve never happened – engage with the customer and work to fix the problem. This will go a long way with customers.
Another thing millennials hate is dishonesty. They’re not as trusting of corporations as past generations – which means that you’re already working at a deficit. Be honest. If you screw up, take responsibility. Don’t go out of your way to oversell. The Internet makes it impossible to hide much these days – so it’s pretty easy to get caught in a lie and once you’re found out, you’ll lose customers and future credibility.
It’s true: Millennials are a tough crowd. But they’re not an impossible sell. The biggest mistake you can make is to be something you’re not or underestimate consumers. Be real, be engaging and put the customer first, always. It’s not rocket science – but getting the formula wrong can be devastating for your company.
Tell us, have you made a big mistake with the millennial crowd? If so, how did you fix it?