A blog about Oracle Social Life

How Social Listening Will Help You Reach Millennials

Krystal Rose
Customer Experience Consultant, Oracle

This blog was written by Oracle's Krystal Rose. As a social consultant, Krystal leverages her marketing experience to provide social media consultation for brands ranging from start-ups to global enterprises. 

If your company is struggling with a strategy to reach millennials, you are not alone. According to Forbes, many traditional advertising methods prove ineffective at capturing their attention. And with reports predicting that by 2018, millennials are expected to have $3.4 trillion in buying power and outspend Baby Boomers, you can understand why millennials are so important to businesses. As brands attempt to tap into this powerful consumer segment, this projection has the potential to elicit both excitement and frustration. 

With varying degrees of success with traditional methods and conflicting strategies on which channels are best to use –email? mobile? Snapchat? – developing a plan to reach millennials can be overwhelming for brands. No matter the route you decide to take, your efforts will be moot if you are not starting the process correctly.

First, some background on the millennial generation.

  • Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are born between 1980 to mid-2000s, so they range in age from 15 – 35. Because of that big age range, their needs and interest differ drastically (so a blanket marketing approach will not work).
  • With 86 million millennials, this segment is currently the largest generation in the U.S., making up more than 25% of the population.
  • Millennials are very active in sharing online. In fact, 70% of millennials share feedback, ideas, opinions and customer experiences on social, proving to be a goldmine of data for marketers.
  • They have a different set of values than the generations before them. According to CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights, millennials value Happiness, Passion, Diversity, Sharing and Discovery over previous generations’ values. (Baby boomers, for instance, value Integrity, Family, Practicality, Duty, and Justice.
  • 78% of millennials would rather spend money on experiences than on things. This characteristic contributes to explaining why more brands are sponsoring music events and festivals to reach them.
  • Millennials want to buy or work with business and people who they identify with their values. 50% are more willing to purchase from a company if their purchase supports a cause.

Okay, so brands are looking at a population of 86 million millennials (in the U.S. alone) who have very different set of expectations than previous generations. This population is also prone to sharing their ideas, opinions and experiences online; and they expect to be heard, understood and engaged.

Before thinking about which channel you should be using to reach them you need to first identify who your target audience is within this segment (15-35 years is a big gap). What are their interests?  Where are they having conversations online? What are their expectations of their relationship with you? I emphasize the word relationship because that is really what it takes for brands to be successful among this segment. And what is the foundation of any good relationship? Being a good listener, or in this case a good SOCIAL listener!

Why social listening?

Social listening is not only the process of monitoring conversations related to a brand, product, industry or competitors. It’s also analyzing those messages to see who is behind the conversations and what their intent and interests are. Accenture’s research on millennial shoppers revealed that brands or marketers need to routinely communicate and collaborate with consumers about product information, special offers, and updates. Through social listening, brands identify relevant conversations to engage with, plus they can build relationships, trust, and brand awareness. They are also better positioned to improve services and offerings, enhance customer service, gain a competitive advantage and influence conversations within their industry. 

Millennials might not outright identify themselves as a millennial online, but because they share their lives so openly, you can identify them based on the content of their posts (for example sharing activities that are applicable to a particular life stage like graduation or marriage). Of course you need a good social listening tool to find those relevant posts so you can take action.

Getting real answers from the right social listening tool

Lots of social listening tools exist, but most have immature technology that misses important posts or fails to narrow searches to relevant mentions. Without a good base of listening data, the task of analyzing those conversations becomes very tedious and overwhelming. With the right tools, however, your brand gains valuable, actionable insights.

Global retailer Mothercare is implementing a digital vision to put the customer at the heart of everything they do, and Social Media is tied to all areas of this vision. Mothercare's Ryan Davies explains that leveraging social data and listening to engage with customers puts companies in a powerful position.

“We have a social department (using Oracle Social Cloud) that gives us great listening… which is really powerful in getting through the business of where our customers are, what they are buying, what they are saying and what they want and that changes the way we talk to our customers, how we design products and services for them…”

Mothercare is a primary example of starting with social listening to reach a target audience. The right social listening tool will enable you to identify where the conversations are happening, who is having them, what is important to your target audience, and how to reach them. Having this level of intelligence of your audience will give you the best actionable insights you need to be successful in your social marketing efforts.

For more on Mothercare’s proactive social engagement, check out their #2amClub campaign.

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Comments ( 1 )
  • David Boyll Tuesday, March 22, 2016
    I'm so over the "millenials" meme. So-called social media consultants are totally missing the point. It's not about a generational shift, it's about a shift in how all consumers get and share information. I do agree re: the value of listening. There is no substitute for understanding what your customers need and want. Use that information to produce relevant, actionable content and then measure and analyze the results using tools like Oracle's. There is no "magic bullet" for success with demographic profiling. Anyone that thinks all people ages 18-24 think alike is selling snake oil.
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