So you want to know what mistakes you are making when targeting millennials? Congratulations, you have chosen the most active and critical demographic on the Internet. However, we are important. Why? We are the next generation of home buyers.
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The first thing you have to realize is that if you are looking into the millennial world from the outside in, its almost impossible to gain access. No matter how much time you spend on Reddit or how up to date you are with Internet memes (if you don’t know what either of those are, check them out before you continue), the generational gap is huge.
Unlike yourself, millennials have grown up with the Internet. And in most cases we are talking about high speed internet, I’m still a couple years away from drinking age and I might be one of the last age groups to really remember dial up. Having the Internet at such a young age, we have grown up in the online environment. Think about it this way: say that millennials are a wild antelope, nimble and smart on the online Savannah. While you, the non-millenial, are an antelope that has been raised in a zoo and are part of a “release to the wild” program. When you get released into the “digital wild” you won’t have the skills and awareness to survive . You are one inappropriate Facebook comment away from being dinner for a cheetah.
Since we have this digital dexterity, we are very cautious. And by cautious I mean with pop-ups and advertising, we are very good at spotting the fake. Not to say that what you will be delivering to us will be fake, but traditional advertising rarely works. Let’s just say I don’t know one person who actually clicks on online advertising. Ironically, millennials are not cautious with the information or pictures they share to what we think is our own “private” network (But that is a whole other post in itself). So to get to my point, if you want to get through to millennials you have to be genuine. We have detailed our entire adolescence online through relationship statuses, heated Facebook arguments, and strategic unfriending. Teenage angst was digitized for us. Because of that, we are looking for you to show that same amount of transparency. It’s no secret why certain celebrities have risen to Internet immortality, they are willing to share a significant portion of their lives with the rest of the world.
- Check the trends (all of them): Whether you are perusing Twitter or stalking your kid’s Facebook page, do some millennial-style research on what we are talking about. Millennial-style research is Googling whatever the topic is and clicking the Wikipedia search result. It is important that you check all the trends, even the ones you think are really stupid. Those are generally the most popular.
- It’s a sprint, not a marathon: Millennials move fast, and so does what we talk about. In order to keep up with us you have to be constantly on top of the Internet trends. The best way to do this is by getting in the habit of checking sites like Mashable, a great site that blends tech news and online social trends.
- Twitter is your best friend: While you can be denied friendship by your kid on Facebook, you can follow anybody on Twitter. Find out who is making waves in the online social environment and follow them.
I know this advice seems harsh, but the millennial environment is incredibly volatile. And you need to be ready for the speed at which it moves if you are going to target those individuals in it. If you don’t feel comfortable with jumping into the “deep end” of the Internet, get some color by the diving board. Just observe for awhile and you will begin to pick up on trends. And as confusing as the online millennial world may seem, remember that most of us are just staring at a computer screen because we have nothing better to do.