Guest blog post by Rick Riddle
It can be tempting to lump all the people who’ve spent more of their life with social media as one large group with largely the same interests and aims. Indeed, that is what you will find many marketing firms doing. The internet is rife with articles about how to market to millennials, how snapchat is the new social media platform of the millennial generation and how Instagram has overtaken Facebook.
To do so, however, would be wrong.
Because if you dig a little deeper, you’ll very quickly indeed find out that the millennials are far from the homogeneous group they’ve been made out to be. For example, ‘they’ most certainly don’t all use snapchat. In fact, an Ipsos study of 1000 millennials between the age of 20 and 35 found that more than half don’t have a snapchat account, 1 in 10 doesn’t have a Facebook account and 40% do not use Instagram.
Figure 1 Infographic is infographic by the Smart Paper Help writing service.
In effect, to market to Millennials is a little bit like marketing to women or black people. The category is just far too big and by using it you lump people together that are entirely different and have entirely different interests.
Broad categories means less engagement
What’s more, by targeting categories this broad, there is almost no way that a person feels personally addressed by your marketing campaign. In other words, you’re not making use of one of the biggest trends in marketing that we’re currently seeing, and that is the personalization of products and websites.
In order to take advantage of that, you need to slice market segments far more thinly than the word ‘millennial’ ever could. Then you couldn’t just focus on millennials, or even millennial women, you would have to focus on millennial single mothers, for example.
What’s more, this is in many ways far easier to do, as studying the numbers in terms of smaller groups both makes it easier to find out what social media they’re using, as well as to find ways to appeal to those groups directly, by exploring topics that are immediately relevant to them. And that, in turn, will serve to significantly raise their interest and their engagement with your brand.
Modern social media allows for thin-slicing
And besides, why wouldn’t you approach modern advertising in this way? Many social platforms allow you to thin slice who you approach and how you approach them to an amazing degree. For example, it is possible to target people in specific jobs, in specific areas, even people that work at a specific business.
This is immensely advantageous as it means you can tailor your message exactly for that group –giving them the feeling that you’re talking directly to them and giving them exactly what they might be looking for.
What’s more, by thin-slicing who you address with your advertisements and posts, you’ll manage to tighten all the bolts on the leaky faucet, so that those people that won’t benefit from being exposed to your ad (because they will not be interested or will not be able to take advantage of what you’re offering) will not be exposed to your ad. This will make them happier and will mean that you’re spending far less money on people who you’re not interested in targeting.
At the same time, there is a growing body of evidence that people are less and less comfortable with the way that social media have encroached on their privacy. A reason survey by Nation under A-Hack revealed that when asked 55% of Millennials said they would stay away from Social Media if they could start afresh and that 75% were considering closing their accounts if the security breaches continued. And that’s not the only source that shows these kinds of trends, with other infographics about how millennials use social media showing similar trends.
This matters for you, in that it is vital that you do not make them feel as if you know too much about them, as – rather than them feeling that you’ve personally connected with them there’s a good chance that this will actually creep them out.
A fine line
In other words, stay away from addressing them directly, letting them know that you’re aware where they live, or what other information you have about them. And just like with the older generations, it might be about time that we ask for permission before we start broadcasting information about what we know about individuals across our network.
The truth is, though the US has not yet caught up to the European Union in terms of privacy protection, with the way the mood is currently going, it will sooner or later start swinging in that same direction. When that happens, you want to make certain you’re on the right side of the fence.
So, personalize, and thin slice, but do not become too personable, as people still do not like the idea of business peeking into their living rooms.
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