Millennials get such a bad rap in the mainstream media and pop culture that it sometimes trickles down to marketing’s outlook on them, too.
Schools can’t afford to misunderstand this group, though, because the youngest millennials are 18. These are the students who are looking at your college or university, and they are the students who are already attending.
Here’s what you need to know about millennials, and how to keep your content aligned with exactly what they need.
Get rid of long introductions and instead, get right to the point. Millennials are used to having information readily available, so not being able to find the information they’re looking for is even more frustrating for this group.
“This group is spending more time on their mobile devices than any other platform and are making their decisions utilizing their mobile devices.” – Andrew Howlett as quoted by Young Entrepreneur Council for HubSpot
When mobile first started to gain traction, being “mobile friendly” was enough. Today, websites need to be responsive (meaning they automatically resize—and look great on—any device).
Even once you have a responsive site, little things can go awry. When you create new content, make a mobile review part of your process.
“Keep it short. Despite the value of long-form content, 41% of millennials said the main reason they abandon content is that it’s too long.” – Amber van Natten for News Cred
Now we know that millennials are trying to pay attention to too many things at once, they’re consuming content via their phones and they don’t want to spend a lot of time reading.
As marketers, this means that any content geared for them needs to be simple and easy to read. Headers, subheads, bullet points and white space are ways to break up content so your millennial audience can find what they need, and fast.
Millennials want to feel like your school is more than just a brand, so give them ways to really connect.
Showcase the individuals who make up your faculty, staff and student population. Use content to let students see behind-the-scenes. Speak openly to address their concerns. Show your honest efforts to create better experiences for them, online and off—even if those efforts are imperfect.
“Who knows how to appeal to and reach Millennials better than Millennials? Employees are your greatest assets. Young talent can help you understand the Millennial viewpoint.” – Drew Beechler for ExactTarget
In business, pulling a focus group together can be an arduous and expensive task. Schools have the amazing benefit of having the basis for a great focus group right on campus.
Student interns can help the marketing department better understand the student experience and can help generate content ideas and provide feedback.
Hiring marketing professionals who are also millennials is another way to stay in touch with the outlook of the generation. Millennials are currently between the ages of 18-34, so you can hire someone with a range of experience, depending on your needs.
“No one wants to be told what to do, what to like and what to think. That is especially true of Millennials, who have an instant aversion to anything that smacks of ‘marketing’”. – Millennial Marketing
One of my favorite short definitions of content marketing is by Robert Rose, from Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content Marketing:
“Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.”
Millennials are the ultimate target for a content marketing approach because they don’t want to be told, they want to be shown. This is an incredibly valuable point to keep in mind when creating content. It may force you to stretch a little outside of your comfort zone, but that’s exactly where millennials want to find you.
“When millennials fall in love with a product or an organization, they tell the world — through social media and face-to-face conversations. The millennials who love your product are your best marketing tool. These evangelists will sell your product for you if you give them a forum and the means to do so.” – Joel Kaplan for Mashable
Websites and blog should have social sharing functionality built in (like the sidebar widget you see here), but making something easy to share also means that you have to give people a reason to do so.
People share things that bring out strong emotions—like when content is really funny, sad or surprising. They also share when content is helpful and is something they identify with. Aim to create emotion.
Give students an opportunity to create content, suggest what they would like to see, or be involved in brainstorming ideas. This is a win for everyone, since the students involved are happy and the millennials viewing your content like seeing that your school allows students to be part of the process.
“Millennials want to be immersed in high-quality, entertaining content.” – Gabe Rosenberg for Contently
Think creatively and try new things to attract and retain the attention of millennials. Focus on informing along with entertaining.
There are plenty of reports, surveys and stats about millennials, but even the best ones are simply generalizations that provide a starting point. Get to know your unique audience in order to create content that appeals to them and brings out the qualities of your school that they care about.
Getting to know millennials, and tailoring your content for them, is one of the best things you can do for your school’s marketing.
For more insight into the millennial mindset, read on: