As 2015 winds down, it becomes apparent that content marketing is where marketing is headed and it is all because of millennials.
That’s a bold statement to make but I stand by it. Why?
Because millennials have been subjected to countless advertisements over the course of their lives by the virtue of the sheer amount of media they consume on a regular basis.
(Full disclosure, I am a millennial)
A study by Crowdtap indicated that millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 36) spend nearly 18 hours a day consuming a variety of media. This counts the activities as if they were not being done simultaneously, but of course millennials are also consuming much of this media all at once.
So what does this mean for content marketing?
It means that, due to the sheer number of hours that millennials spend consuming, they see that many more advertisements. Perhaps because of this, millennials are not as engaged in traditional marketing and advertising techniques that worked so well on previous generations.
They don’t want to be told to buy something, they want to be told a story or a funny joke. They want to feel that the material they are being exposed to is something that they can connect with their ideas about the world.
This is easier said than done and some companies are a lot better at it than others. Content marketing for millennials needs to feel organic. It needs to naturally reach where they spend the most time, the internet. Specifically, social media, where companies are able to place their content (paid or not) in and amongst the content of their target audience’s peers.
And it is in this realm where some of the best content marketing targeting millennials is done.
“But we’re a B2B company!” you might exclaim. “Why should I care about millennials?”
Millennials aren’t jobless teens anymore and as of 2015, they are the largest generation in the workforce, making up 34% in the first quarter of this year. That number will only grow.
That means that this generation is becoming increasingly more important as they make their way up the career ladders. The older members of the generation have already started taking management positions, an estimated 28% of millennials already hold these types of jobs.
That means that approximately one in four millennials has decision-making power in their company.
The people that have been the target of B2C marketing for years are increasingly becoming the target of B2B marketing strategies. B2C marketers have been catering to millennial tastes for years and have a lot of methods that B2B brands should mimic.
While the rest of this list covers B2C brands marketed to millenials, there are B2B brands that are trying to project their B2B marketing to the younger workforce. A good example of this is Intel’s online magazine/blog, Intel IQ. It is a curated bank of articles, covering a wide range of topics.
It’s a varied list, but what makes it most interesting is the manner in which its created. When CCO Magazine, interviewed it’s editor-in-chief, Bryan Rhoads, he described what makes IQ so unusual.
“IQ has a very intelligent back-end. We developed an algorithm to curate social content in a way that leverages our employees. We want to publish what they’re sharing and what’s grabbing their attention. It’s a combination of a social algorithm, plus an employee filter that crowdsources what they are saying and sharing, and uses that as a discovery tool,” he said.
So Intel is crowdsourcing what interests its employees, knowing that prospective buyers will have similar interests to its own employees. This is genius content marketing, as Intel remembers that while it’s selling products B2B, that the people making these purchases are first and foremost, humans. That’s why the content on the blog is a blend of Intel’s own content and pieces shared by its employees. The result is a bright, diverse blog that accurately reflects the brand.
This is really a quite brilliant strategy. Relevant content and interesting content blend to create a truly engaging blog in the B2B scope. More brands would due to try something like this.
Fairfield Inn & Suites
The first time I saw this video, it was an advertisement played at the beginning of a Youtube video. There were a couple of us in the room and while I noticed that it was indeed just an advertisement, the people I was with did not. There was an option to skip the video, but in the first few seconds the video had managed to draw them in. It starts with a deep voice and cinematic flashes of gold chained fists, before morphing into what looks some sort of funny movie about Mr. T working at a hotel. And it was well done. Mr. T had turned into Mr. Guaran-T, a character that is now being used in a many other pieces of content (millennials like funny characters to sell them things). And I definitely admired the manner in which the creators of the video were able to so convincingly draw their audience past the “Skip Ad” button. What is particularly impressive is that this advertisement occurs in the time its audience was waiting for something else.
So the ad was effective in the way that it caught the narrow attention span of users and they watched the video almost to completion.
But did it make the group of us want to stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites?
But it did put the name of the brand in our minds. We are likely to associate the funny video we watched with the hotel that released it. Then, when we needed somewhere to stay while traveling, if a Fairfield Inn popped up, we would already have some familiarity with the brand. That’s the key to content marketing and in particular to millennials. Your brand must subtly make itself “a household name” before they consider purchasing from you.
For B2B, it may be hard to come up with a likable personality for your brand, but that doesn’t mean your brand can’t have personality. Coming up with a brand personality usually involves combining a set of adjectives into a something someone can relate to. And that personality is what makes your brand stick in the minds of your millennial consumers.
Another example of personality is Progressive. One day, I was scrolling through Instagram when this quirky little photo popped up as sponsored content.
There were a number of things that were very appealing about this particular piece of content. The use of the #tbt tag was good, making the content seem more natural and allowing it to show up organically when someone views all #tbt tags. In addition, this piece of content was produced by someone else on Instagram, meaning either Progressive paid this particular user to make them this lunch, or he made it for them and they featured it.
Either way, the fact that it was made for them by someone else makes millennials like it even more than content that was produced solely by the company. Progressive actually does a fantastic job of this a lot of the time. A quick scan of the company’s Instagram page revealed many more posts like this.
They all come from outside companies and they all feature the quirky character of Flo, who has been the face of the brand since 2008. That means a lot of millenials grew up seeing Flo as a beloved character they grew up listening to, despite her being a sales rep.
The focus here is personality, like a mentioned before, but also the use of influencers. Progressive uses popular Instagrammers to boost their own content. This can be done in the way that Intel does it, pulling from those that influence their employees, but also can be done in the form of guest bloggers and other sorts of interactions. Influencer content means less work for you and increased engagement with millenials.
If you’ve seen an action video filmed in the last few years, chances are it was filmed on a Go Pro.
Go Pro is a content marketers dream, wherein users are not only enthusiastically engaging with the brand, but also creating massive amounts of content for the brand. It is estimated that 6,000 Go Pro-tagged videos are uploaded to Youtube each day. Go Pro then buys the rights to any video that it finds especially inspiring, sends the video through it’s own production channels, before rereleasing the content on its own channel.
And looking at the adventures that Go Pro has captured it’s easy to see why millenials are so engaged with it. It has everything that millenials love and want in a brand, from the promise of adventure to the ability to capture those adventures and post them to social media.
This is combined with Go Pro partnering up with musicians, athletes and daredevils across the globe, further reinforcing that owning the camera will provide the sense of fun and adventure that millenials crave.
In an ideal world, all products would sell themselves like this. To have this enthusiastic of a fan base, you have to have a really awesome product. That’s how millenials work. If they have an amazing experience, you can guarantee that they will tell people about it. That’s what you strive for in B2B, a millennial in a top managing position posting about the fantastic experience they had with your service on social media.
Griz (and other popular musicians in the music festival scene)
With the advent of social media, it has become easier and easier for musicians to connect with their audience. And in doing this, they are actually employing content marketing strategies that are exceptionally effective for creating engaged consumers. Take a look at Griz, who plays a blend of electronic music and funk at festivals across the country.
He boasts 94.4 thousand followers on his account @mynameisgriz, where he posts everything from memes to concert photos. I’d argue that while a lot of the memes and personal posts allow Griz to connect with his audiences (making them see that he’s a real person), the main value Griz gets from his Twitter audience is in sharing photos from his shows.
Look at those photos, what music lover wouldn’t want to be in those crowds? And fans of the artist will see those photos and it will create a want. That’s the goal with conventional marketing and it is easily achieved by the content produced by musicians on their social media accounts.
What Griz and other musicians have learned is live music and experiences are the key to the millenial’s heart, with more than 14.7 million millennials attending at least one music festival every year. Many give away their music for free in hopes that it will encourage their fans to spread it (more content marketing) and that more of their shows will sell out.
Griz has been particularly successful, selling out at concerts across the country this year. It’s easy to see why, as his fans are also actively engaged in spreading the word for him, again, a content marketer’s dream. This is something that marketers should keep in mind. Produce a great piece of content and distribute it for free, in exchange for information about your consumer (even just an email address) and it will practically sell your brand for you.
Does your company sell tickets to a yearly conference? During that conference take pictures of it, angled on how incredible the experience was. This can be done with any sort of service or event through picture, video or even testimonials. You have to make your customers want to lavish in the thrill of getting to participate in such an event. You want them to look forward to it, tell their friends about. Even if it’s not as exciting as a concert.
Each one of these content marketing champions is excelling in some way, but the most important thing being accomplished is brands creating content that consumers enjoy engaging with. They don’t necessarily lead directly and immediately to sales, but good content marketing is the way to start a relationship with millennials. They do not want to feel as if they are being tricked into purchasing something, they need to feel as if the brand relates to them, as one of their peers. Because that is what content marketers need to do when creating a relationship with millennials. Brands need to blend in on social media channels, creating brand loyalty carefully. This means not pushing too hard and playing on the wants and needs of the brand’s audience. In both B2B and B2C, millennials are important and they are not going away. They will be in the workforce for the next few decades, so you may as well learn to cater their tastes now.
What do you think of this list? Is there someone you think we missed? Tell us about it! Feel a brand on this list is undeserving? Tell us why in the comments!