In a world defined by 140-character attention spans, hashtags, and “like” buttons, engaging Millennials isn’t always intuitive.

The Millennial generation has already transformed the way we communicate and the way some companies do business. It’s no surprise then that the youngest generation of adults has also impacted the world of marketing. Authoritative and disconnected messages are no longer effective in engaging Millennials, which means that for many marketers, the rules have changed drastically.

Remember, we’re talking about a generation that is ravenous for rich, meaningful, and relatable content, a generation that has turned the majority of communications into interactivity across the internet, and a generation that wants to be a part of something (or many things). Their outlook on the world is different from their predecessors, and that includes spending practices. (Especially when you consider the average Millennial already carries exponentially more debt than the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers did at the same age.)

So how do you engage Millennials and get them to tune in for longer than 140 characters?

Market through social media

When engaging Millennials, it’s crucial to do so through social media channels. A recent study found that Millennials spend an hour a day on average using social media apps. That’s a lot of time. If you want to capture their attention, interactive platforms such as Facebook and Instagram among others are the places to do it.

We’re not just talking about paid ads, either. In fact, the majority of engagements on social media come from owned content. Invest in community management to give your brand a more relatable voice. Show behind-the-scenes footage of how your product or service comes to fruition. Or, perhaps the most important idea, make your content interactive through games or trivia or contests.

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Incentivize through contests

In fact, one of the best ways to get Millennials involved in your marketing campaign is to incentivize their participation through social contests. Right away, this satisfies two of the things that drive Millennials in the marketing world, which are rich content and interactive communication through social channels. But the real benefit here comes from the more subtle characteristic: contests enable their contestants to be a part of something.

Sure, it may seem silly. But it’s a desire for connection to the world that drives Millennials to want to be a part of something. Competition necessarily connects Millennials with the world. Hashtag contests on Twitter or uploading content to Instagram are great methods of engaging Millennials in a way that they feel connected to the brands around them.

Come up with a unique hashtag for your contest, offer five to ten small prizes instead of a grand prize, and if your ideas are good, your engagements will surely be on the rise in a matter of no time.

Make it meaningful

Marketing has moved from intrusive and authoritative advertisements to engaging storytelling that holds some value for the audience beyond the product or service alone. Apple, for example, knows that running an ad campaign that tells people why they should buy their products is significantly less impactful than a campaign comprised of user-generated content and clips of people being people in different life circumstances. The content goes immediately from being intrusive to being relatable and meaningful.

To some extent, marketing already does this, but remember that engaging Millennials is very different from engaging their predecessors. It’s necessary to understand what is meaningful to Millennials – what they relate to and how – if they are to see any given marketing campaign as relevant to themselves.

Think less along the lines of product specs and capabilities and more along the lines of storytelling. Millennials see the world through stories because social channels are full of them, from single photos to blogs to vlogs to all the rest of the content floating around out there.

Make Millennials a part of your story and you’ll have their attention for a long time.

Make Millennials part of something

Millennials don’t want to be seen as cogs in a wheel. They want to be a part of something that matters, characters in the stories through which they see the world. Offer discounts or kickbacks for referrals. Maintain a regular blog on your brand website and encourage visitors to leave comments and open dialogue. Encourage them to leave online reviews of your product or service. The key to engaging Millennials is to get them involved. When they feel they are a part of a brand experience as opposed to being a disconnected spectator, they are more likely to engage with the brand.

Empowerment over engagement

What this all comes down to empowerment over engagement. “Engaging Millennials” is a term they’ve been hearing some variation of all their adult lives. It’s lost a lot of potency over the years and will continue to do so as they get older. Just the idea of being engaged is enough to make some of them disengage even before they’ve started.

In order for Millennials to feel as though they are part of something, they need to feel empowered to have some say in or control over that something. Foster open dialogue on your social channels. Invest in quality community management so your brand can respond to its audience. It’s not enough for a Millennial to know that there’s a prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box; they want to acquire the box with the prize in it because of something they’ve done, however simple or complex.

Ultimately, engaging Millennials can be boiled down to one simple concept: Treat them like people instead of numbers and make sure they know that their opinions matter. Of course, sending that message through rich content over social media certainly won’t hurt.

lead-managerlead-managerWant to engage with more customers? Simplify your sales process now. Schedule a free demo of our lead management software and turn prospects into customers in no time!

Do you do anything special to engage Millennials? Let us know in the comments, and everyone can benefit!