Thursday, January 12th, 2017 | 4 min read
Recently, my friend showed me an ad for a clothing brand that he kept seeing in his social media feeds. I recognized it because I’d been seeing the same one.
“They’re targeting me.” “You saw the ad too?”
Another friend recently said that she sometimes clicks on ads and then closes the page, just to make the company pay 5 cents for her click. A tiny act of defiance, but it made her feel like she had some kind of power while being bombarded with ads on social media.
Her micro protest reflects just how common ultra-specific ads are.
Millennials are the largest generation in the workplace, soon to hold the greatest purchasing power. Given this growing influence, and our reputation for defining ourselves by what we buy, there are countless opinions on how brands can attract Millennial loyalty.
As marketing and advertising technology advances, targeted ads will become more precise and thus more “creepy” – as Snapchat CEO (and well known Millennial) Evan Spiegel famously described them.
How, then, can brands reach increasingly wary youngsters in a way that feels thoughtful and personal, but doesn’t seem intrusive or offensive? The answer lies in content marketing and influencer marketing.
Content marketing acknowledges the individual agency of customers by allowing them to approach a brand rather than making them feel targeted. Creating quality content that is relevant, valuable, relatable, and entertaining will naturally draw the attention of consumers.
After all, people want to learn interesting things and be entertained. Podcasts have exploded in popularity because they tapped into this hunger. NPR podcasts have created a loyal following among many young Millennials thanks to their insightful and culturally-relevant storytelling that allows listeners to discover and follow their own interests and share cultural currency with their friends.
If you can provide your customers with valuable, interesting information and make them laugh, they will be likely to trust you and see you – and whatever you offer – more favorably.
Once you have content, it is difficult to make it cut through all the noise out there. It may appear daunting to reach your intended audience in today’s overcrowded landscape, but it’s not impossible!
The power of influencer marketing isn’t just about “authenticity” – as hundreds of articles on the topic may lead you to believe. It relies more on the trust people have in particular influencers, as well as their appreciation for the transparency of the process.
When executed well, an influencer campaign can feel like word-of-mouth marketing and drive positive results. In order to succeed, start by letting influencers say what they really think about your product. It is much more impactful, for example, to hear a beauty YouTuber discussing the good and bad points of a product and saying whether there is a partnership involved at all.
Again, it’s transparency that carries more weight than authenticity these days.
As influencer marketing becomes standardized and the world of online content grows denser, marketing in these ways will become less about whether to do it, but how to carry it out. Clever marketing empowers Millennials to find things they like without making them feel like they’re being manipulated. The key is not authenticity, but rather acknowledgement of agency and a view into the process.
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