Millennials Are Not Impressed With Your Content Marketing

By Dawn Papandrea • NewsCred Blog

Image: Getty Images

Millennials - also referred to as digital natives or Gen Y - created the art of consuming copious amounts of content across multiple devices at all times. Despite this ongoing consumption, 45 percent of Gen Y simply are not impressed with the content that marketers are serving up. That according to a new study, “Content Marketing Best Practices Among Millennials,” by Yahoo and Tumblr, in partnership with Razorfish and Digitas.


While the oft-ridiculed generation may seem easy to dismiss, millennials have a lot of purchasing power and are expected to shell out $1.4 trillion by 2020. It would behoove marketers to win them over, hence the issue in this study. The good news is Gen Y is very open minded when it comes to native content, and will gladly share it with their social networks, as long as you don’t try to slip in a hard sell. The study, which surveyed 15,000 adults ages 18-34, found that this generation is very put off when they feel deceived by advertisers.

So what does this all mean for you, as a marketer? For starters, you’ll need to bring your A-game because millennials expect you to understand their needs, their preferences, and their passions. It’s all about them – they are a generation of selfie-takers, after all. Take a look at some best practices for winning over Gen Y according to the study, as well as some other content marketing thought leaders:

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Make them laugh at or with you

“Comedy is the number one most watched genre online and speaks to their values of fun and positivity,” explains the Yahoo! study. Don’t take yourself too seriously and look for ways to be humorous, self-deprecating, and down to Earth. Take for instance, Charmin’s Twitter feed or Dollar Shave Club’s viral video. Both of these are great examples of products that are normally not all that fun, but these brands consistently make fans chuckle.

Make everyday #ThrowbackThursday 

This generation definitely has a nostalgic side, so bringing in pop culture references from the 90’s/00’s can draw them in. A great example of this is Internet Explorer’s Child of the 90s video used to introduce its newest version. 

Respect their time

If young adults are coming to you for knowledge, make sure you have lots of service and how-to content to serve up. Gen Y wants to be in the know and on top of their game when they make purchasing decisions. If they can’t find the answers from your company, they will quickly move elsewhere. Mint.com, a personal finance tool and app, gives its readers tons of expert advice on money management, for instance, and therefore establishes itself as a trustworthy and credible service.

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Engage them in a personal way

As suggested in this Pace Communication’s article, starting a conversation with your fans shows that you are listening to what they have to say. The article cites the example of REI, which invited customers to tweet at the company asking for holiday gift recommendations, and then responded with custom-made videos showing their employees giving specific gift suggestions based on those tweets. Responding to social media mentions and customer service issues in a timely manner can go a long way, but also coming up with user-generated content ideas can make fans feel like they are part of your community.

Commit to a cause

According to a study by Rosetta Marketing, 37 percent of millennials say they are receptive to cause marketing and more likely to purchase items from brands associated with doing good. In other words, Gen Y cares about issues like sustainability, LGBT equality, animal rescue, or helping the poor, to name a few. There are so many wonderful examples of cause marketing going on, but Tom's One for One program, which helps one person in need in some way for every pair of shoes purchased is a good one to emulate, as well as Verizon's recent "Inspire Her Mind" ad reminding us of the serious disparity between women and men in college science and math programs. 

You might have to work a bit harder to win over millennial fans, but when you do, they’ll reward you with their loyalty, future purchases, and will gladly share your content with their friends. Just don’t ask them to buy anything.

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