There is little doubt that connecting with ‘Millennials’ is as important as it is terrifying. For every successful campaign you see, there is another that failed miserably – descending into a storm of online mockery and backlash that winds up doing more harm than good. Given though that we are talking about a $200 billion industry here, any company that runs scared may be missing out on tapping into a market that is growing in strength and influence.

But what even is a ‘Millennial’ anyway? Like Generation X or the Baby Boomers before them, it’s a term that attempts to group a market segment into an easy to understand entity. In this case the simple definition is any person who comes into adulthood in the 21st century – as a rule they are born somewhere between the 1980s and the turn of the century.

Things are never quite that simple though. As Rick Enrico points out on Social Media Today this is in fact the most diverse generation we have ever seen. You find them in all walks of life – professionally and personally – with the only thing connecting them as a group their distaste for tradition and social conformity. Whereas Baby Boomers are, by comparison, a relatively easy group to describe, getting a handle on millennials can be like catching smoke. One size fits all is simply not going so before you even start to hone your message, understanding the segment you need target.


Growing up in a world of seemingly endless digital content, Millennials are connected through multiple platforms and devices at any given time. They are constantly ‘foraging’ for information that connects, and that search is as important as what they find in the end.

The key is not to put all your eggs in the one basket. Any message or campaign needs to be rolled out across numerous platforms with each component playing to its strengths – shareable content for YouTube, simple messaging for Twitter, compelling images for Instagram.


If Millennials have one defining feature, it’s the ability to know when they are being sold. Having been bombarded with digital information from birth they have an uncanny knack of seeing through the spin. Authenticity is the key here.

If you are crafting content or a message it needs to be ‘real’ and compelling. More than any other market, you need to build their trust and the quickest way to do that is speak their language and appeal to their values of independence and autonomy.

Be prepared to dispense with marketing tradition by putting yourself under the microscope like never before.


Social Media is largely about ‘sharing’ – a principal that offers you unrivalled opportunities. It’s no newsflash to point out that recommendation or endorsement is the most powerful marketing tool you can have, and here we have platforms build on that very thing.

By creating clever content that can be shared over and over means you have the opportunity to not just sell to this market, but create an army of people becoming ambassadors for your brand. More than any other group, Millennials will be more likely to listen to what their friends recommend or ‘Like’ than what you tell them.

On the flipside of course, get it wrong and that YouTube clip you thought was oh-so-clever may end up going viral for all the wrong reasons.

In the end, marketing to millennials is forcing companies to reassess everything they do – which is no bad thing. While some principals remain solid, if you think the cookie cutter campaigns you have been rolling out for the past decade will work you are not only missing the chance to be embraced by a huge consumer market, but you are also running the risk of doing more harm than good.

For help and advice on reaching your millennial audience, get in touch for practical tips and advice.