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An Introduction to Digital Marketing for Millennials

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 17/03/2016 Neil Patel
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You've probably had it up to here with marketing-to-millennial information. The Internet is full of advice on how to capture the eyeballs and wallets of the biggest market demographic in the history of the human race.
But there's something missing from this conversation. How should millennials do digital marketing? How should they view their own role in the marketing adventure?
Millennials are not merely a marketing demographic. They are themselves marketers, too.
So, let's ask the question: How should millennials view their role and master the craft of digital marketing?
And more importantly, let's answer it with 6 statements.
1. Don't be afraid of digital authenticity.
You're a marketer. Fine. But this shouldn't do anything to reduce your innate authenticity.
Authenticity is what will make you a better marketer. Authenticity is a source of personal strength and marketing savvy.
What does authenticity look like?

  • Expressing intensity over things you love, and conversely over things you loathe.
  • Being open about your beliefs and positions.

In a digital context, your authenticity will be revealed on all the platforms you're marketing on -- Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Facebook. etc.
2. Choose the channels that resonate with your audience.
Be strategic when selecting your marketing channels. You probably already have your pet platforms. Maybe you're a Snapchat pro, or an Instagram queen.
Don't just assume that these are the platforms where your target audience is hanging out. Sure, they probably have a presence there. But where are they really engaging?
Build your tribe in the place where they are already interacting, and you'll be well on your way to marketing success.
3. Be your brand.
Since you're a millennial, you get this. There's a strong undercurrent among millennials pulling them away from the traditional institutions. As the New York Times, explained "millennials are drifting away from traditional institutions -- political, religious and cultural."
As a millennial marketer, this makes sense to you. But it also presents a challenge. Why? Because your brand -- the brand you're trying to market -- is an institution. That means it's a potential turnoff to your target audience.
What do you do? Instead of working to build an aura of awesome around your brand, you become your brand. Millennials aren't drawn to corporate entities or even glamorous brands as much as they are drawn to authentic individuals -- selfie-snapping, dirty-laundry-airing, real people.
The solution isn't to box your marketing efforts in the trappings of "We're awesome! Look at us!" brand marketing techniques. The solution is to embrace the brand yourself, and work on the growth of your personal brand.
This will make more sense in the next section.
4. Embrace the selfie
Marketing is shifting away from the campaign-driven efforts of yesteryear, and into a more individual and organic approach.
In practical terms, here's what this looks like.
  • Take selfies. Though maligned by the establishment, selfies are a mode of expression that is valid and effective. Selfies are a currency of conversation, and shouldn't be neglected.
  • Grow your personal brand in a non-jerky way. Millennials can spot shallow inauthenticity a digital mile away. Your efforts should be to grow a brand on the principles of genuine enthusiasm and authenticity
  • As-it-happens interaction. The rise of instant video platforms such as Periscope are building an appetite for live-stream communication.

Selfies are fine. So are all the other approaches that were once viewed as "childish," "narcissistic," or "immature."
5. Strategy trumps tactics.
There's a tendency among marketers of any generation to pursue tactics.
Now, don't get me wrong. Tactics are great. I'm a tactic connoisseur! But here's what I need to warn you against: Focusing on tactics at the expense of strategy.
What's really going to launch you and your brand forward is not embracing all the possible tactics. There are too many tactics, platforms, methods, processes, technologies, and ideas for any one marketer to pursue in a lifetime.
Instead, think holistically. Look at you audience, your product, and bring the two together with a powerful strategy.
6. Look at your data.
For all my talk of authenticity, you might be thinking that digital marketing is nothing more than spiritual feelings and emotional connections.
You'd be wrong.
Data is still important. Very important. I'd even argue that data-driven marketing is more important for millennials than any other demographic.
Why? Because there is a tendency for us millennials to run after shiny objects. And, heck, are there are lot of shiny objects. Soon, something shinier than Snapchat or the next-greatest live-stream video app is going to capture our attention, and we'll scurry off, lemming-like, to see what it's all about.
If we're moored to the data, however, we're going to waste less time on shiny objects, and spend more time doing the stuff that produces revenue.
You're already a digital native. Good. Now, become a data native -- understanding, appreciating, mining, and responding to your marketing data.
There is no shortage of data. From the familiar (Google Analytics) to the advanced, you have the data that you need. Use it, and prosper.
Conclusion
Keep in mind Gary Vaynerchuk's timely advice regarding modern marketing:
Attention, not impressions.

Here's what he means. Impressions aren't the same thing as attention. Impressions are digital signals, whereas attention is a mental focus. Attention is what gives you the most value as a marketer. Find out where your customers' attention is, and follow it.
As a millennial, you already have a good pulse on where and how your customers are thinking, acting, and buying. Millennials make the best marketers.
But don't take it for granted. Instead of relying only on your intuition, use strategy. Keep an eye on the data, and you'll be sure to make a powerful impact.
What are some things that have helped you improve as a millennial marketer?

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