By Katie McBeth

Millennials are a powerful demographic to reach.

Despite their overwhelming student debt and general lack of income, research shows that millennials do spend money with companies that they value. They’re not an impossible group to market to, and in fact they may be responsible for some of the biggest brand shifts within business.

Millennials are a whole separate breed from that of their parent’s generation. Although they can still be romanced with nostalgia and convenience, they value corporate culture and responsibility over inexpensive substitutes.

Studies with the Nielsen Global Survey found in 2015 that millennials admitted to spending more money for a brand that focuses on socially responsible practices. Whether that means giving back to the community or increasing renewable design production, these companies have found strong support among millennial consumers.

Millennials are also heavy users of social media. In a 2014 survey it was revealed that 93% of Gen Y use the internet and use social media accounts. One can confidently assume, then, that social media campaigns focused on corporate responsibility strike a strong cord with this demographic. These companies show through their content that they are making a difference in this world.

Although many will tell you that the secret to reaching millennials lies in social media strategizing and keeping up with trends like Facebook live or Snapchat, I want to remind you of one thing: don’t let the content of your message be forgotten.

It is true that marketing trends and social media strategizing is vital to creating a steady and loyal fanbase. However, focusing on only the method can often ruin the message. Marketers need to remember that millennials will only remember your brand if you stand out among the rest.

On that note, here are some tips for attracting Millennials with your next social media campaign.

Focus on Honesty

Although this may be a surprise to salespeople across the country, pushy and seemingly dishonest sales tactics are notorious for scaring off millennials.

There could be multiple reasons millennials are put off by the appearance of dishonest marketing tactics. Maybe it’s due to their overwhelming distrust of higher education (all those loans make for a bitter burden), or maybe it’s their witness of the 2008 economic collapse and its shady dealings within the housing industry; either way, millennials value honesty.

How can you play this into your marketing campaign? Through public relations.

Hopefully your company never has to find themselves in a compromising position, but it’s always best to be prepared for any mishaps. Follow the examples of some of the best PR reactions, and follow the advice of the professionals: acknowledge the issue that was made public, apologize, and ensure customers that the mistake will be evaluated and avoided in the future.

However, honesty can extend into every-day marketing as well. As Adeline Teoh discusses with the Small Business Centre in Australia, honest business marketing can make your business stand out: “People often joke that ‘truth in advertising’ is an oxymoron but truth does its own marketing for values such as honesty, integrity and trustworthiness. Marketing isn’t just about persuading people that your business is ‘the best’ – it’s about making your business memorable.”

Focus on Shareability

One of the best advantages that social media has brought humanity is the ability to share stories and build communities. No matter how cynical someone may feel towards hashtags and Facebook, the fact is social sharing is a major milestone in human communication.

And humans love to share. In this way, businesses should focus their marketing campaigns on social sharing; how can they make a ripple in the online world and spread their message?

Marketing experts with Rutgers University explain this shift in marketing strategies: “there has been a major influx amongst marketers to not only create content, but create content that is deemed both important and shareable.”

Evoking emotions can be especially powerful, but it’s important to note that there is a difference between “cheesy” and “heartfelt.” When it comes to developing your campaign, stick to these three rules to make your content shareable:

  • Keep it relevant to your market. If you’re a bookstore, share book-related content. Stretching your reach can lead to alienation from customers. If it doesn’t make sense with your message, then pass it up.
  • Sincerity with a cause. If you are making a move to be more responsible as a company, don’t make it come across as forced. Similarly, if you’re sharing heartfelt content, you can avoid looking cheesy by being sincere in your intentions. Avoid making political statements, unless it is something near and dear to your heart and your company’s message. (Even then, you have to be careful.)
  • Provide content that adds value to your customers. There’s a reason Tasty videos are so successful and are shared thousands of times a day: they add value to the customers. If you want to make something sharable, ask yourself if it provides knowledge or a service to your customer base. If it doesn’t, then it might just be filler content (which you want to keep at a minimum).

In our technology driven world, it can be easy to get carried away with the latest social media fad. However, whatever your method may be, don’t forget to focus in on the message of your company. Millennials will only take notice if you’re willing to take them seriously as customers.

I’ll end on this: slow down with the emoji marketing, live Facebooking, and clickbait listicle articles (#5 will leave you speechless!). Start marketing with your heart. Only then will you get our attention and undying social media loyalty.