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The Best Ways to Engage Young Consumers Online

It seems that even as millennials age and begin to settle into adulthood, they’re still not responding to the traditional advertising that worked on their forefathers: TV commercials, telemarketing campaigns, billboards. To win them over, especially at this point in the information age, we must embrace social media marketing (the same is true, of course, for Gen Z), which is itself just one option in the grand scheme of martech.

But, depending on your brand, that might be tricky. Social media can be fraught, deceptive, and even seemingly ineffective. Not a week goes by that someone hasn’t tanked a career by way of an ill-conceived post or some brand hasn’t insulted a huge sub-group of the population via Twitter. It’s not enough to just be on social media, you also have to be strategic and, dare I say it, wise.

But forget all the potential dangers for now. Any new brand with its heart set on a youthful audience (18-35 year olds, say) simply cannot neglect to take full advantage of the platforms available to them. And there are a ton of great reasons to engage.

Above all, it’s cheap. A post on social media will either be free or cost you orders of magnitude less than TV or radio ad buys. With just a small one-time (or no-time) payment, you get access to a much wider audience, plus the extra bonus of watching them, using Google or HubSpot Analytics, share and repost your ads.

Secondly, you can refine your audience segmentation strategy and reach a narrow but potent portion of your target audience, those who are most likely to buy from you. With traditional mass media, you end up promoting to a much wider audience, irrespective of age, sex, location, etc. So you pay a lot to reach people who aren’t your target.

And finally, social media is not perceived by youth markets as promotion. That’s excellent. it means they’re far more likely to trust information they receive on their social networks than they are information from other media sources. Specifically, younger people tend to trust what they see on Instagram. And Instagram is fantastic.

The platform allows you to promote goods and services in two ways: using more traditional ads and through what are called “shoutouts.” Instagram shoutouts are pre-paid posts in the most popular influencer accounts. Such posts contain your product description and profile link. These are very effective because millennials trust their favorite influencer recommendations and in most cases will be more open to it even when they’re aware that it’s paid promotion. In addition, you can buy shoutouts from several Instagram influencers to increase conversion rates.

But whether you use Instagram or some other platform, keep these five tips in mind:

1. Think carefully about product fit.

Think about a product that is of the utmost interest to your target audience. You won’t be able to promote the whole range of your products, that’s why it’s necessary to choose the one or two that will be the most promising in terms of advertising. It would also be great if these items represent a larger product range in your brand’s scheme of product offerings. Above all, don’t send out messages and ads indiscriminately, be as intentional and strategic as you would for any other advertising opportunity.

2. Find the right face for your product.

There are so many bloggers on the internet today. You”ll need to filter through them by category and identify influencers or representatives who fit best with your brand. Don’t assume that influencers with the most followers are the best option. They generally make more shoutouts, so it’s harder to break through the clutter to reach their subscribers. Plus, the cost of your placement could be very high. So, pay more attention to personalities and bloggers with 5,000-10,000 subscribers. Or do a search for online influencers relevant to your brand and products, whatever their following. It’s more likely that you’ll generate return on your investment.

3. Create a compelling image of your product.

The general rule is: place one, two, or four products in one graphic or image. We don’t recommend you place more because you risk unreadability. It’s also necessary to think about what you’re offering to prospective customers. For example, are you offering a trial, a value-added bundle of products, or a first-time customer deal? Whatever it is, it should be something to compel the audience to take action.

4. Determine the ideal time to launch.

Understand that there are some days in a week when people are more active online. It’s generally better to launch things like Instagram shoutouts over the weekend. But if you want to know for sure, ask your preferred influencer to share their analytics on peak activity times. Different times or seasons of the year, periods when other brands in your category may be rolling out new products, and things like topical political events all matter more than you think. Select a time to launch that promises the highest yield for your money and risks the least amount of (potential) unexpected blowback.

5. Negotiate payment terms.

Many of the best influencers are not looking for cash payments. In fact, some of the very best don’t want to receive money because they don’t want their followers to think that they’ve “sold out.” If an influencer truly believes in your product, they may be willing to barter. For example, one may offer you a free post in exchange for free product samples or services. But if the ask is for cash, be sure to understand the true reach that you are buying and benchmark the cost of impressions you’re being asked to pay for against other influencers.

These quick tips will get you headed in the right direction as you use social media to give millennials a reason to listen and a reason to engage with your brand.

If you’d like to receive a steady flow of great marketing tips like this, please follow me @TopRightPartner, connect with me on LinkedInsubscribe to our blog, or buy a copy of my latest book, Marketing, Interrupted.

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