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Tap into the Mind of Millennials: A 21-Year-Old’s View of Brands on Social Media

by Michelle Ruiz - Apr 10, 2015
The mind of millennials

In the midst of growing with this digitally dependent generation, social media has become an extremely creative way to connect with peers and customers day in and day out. Strangely enough, witty posts and punny captions have influenced me to buy companies' products. If a photo has great lighting and an excellent filter, you can bet it’s grabbing my attention instantaneously. Unlike generations past, those in Generation Y are easily adapting to this digitally-savvy world. However, brands are still struggling to sway the attention of buyers with outdated methods.


Lucky for you, my generation is at the center of it all.


Paying close attention to my daily activities on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, and even Yelp, I noted some of my favorite and not so favorite social media characteristics. So, get ready, because it's time to tap into the mind of a millennial. Let me break it down for you by each platform, starting with the most infamous one of all, Facebook.


Facebook went from being a place to connect with friends and peers across the block to now around to the world, making it a huge marketing asset for brands. Even though many are annoyed Facebook has become an ad filled feed, the social media platform is just as addicting as it has ever been. We still aimlessly scroll through our feed, looking at friends' pictures, the latest cat memes and anything that grabs our attention.

Want to be the one thing that pulls us in? First, create a Facebook page for your company to share featured events, new products and daily messages with your target audience. Make sure to use eye-popping, high-quality images followed by creative captions that do not come off as ad copy. We can smell an ad from miles away. Keep it natural. Talk TO us, not AT us. In addition, "boost" your Facebook posts and target them to reach your target audience so that they flow seamlessly in our feeds.


Recently hitting 300 million users, Instagram has not only become a place where users can share photos and videos with people they follow, but it is now an effective way for brands to visually gain the attention of current and potential customers. For instance, using Instagram influencers to showcase products increases awareness of brands and influences the way we see products. This can be done with Instagram takeovers or product placements. For Example, Estee Lauder partnered with Hilary Rhoda, an international model. Rhoda posted pictures using Estee Lauder products in her daily life, showcasing the products being used and naturally influencing her followers. There have been many instances where I will see an influencer wearing a product that they tag in a photo or video, in which I become more inclined to learn more about the product opposed to when I see a generic ad.


Recently, Instagram launched “carousel ads” to enable companies to share more than one image with people following their account. It leads users directly to a link to access more information. This is particularly beneficial to consumers. When I’m on an account and want to learn more about a featured product, there usually is not a direct link to the site to access more information. Therefore, I then spend twice the amount of time searching for the product on Google. The more efficient, the better. Otherwise, you will lose a potential customer that could have easily turned into a repeat customer.


As long as Instagram stays away from spamming its account users, it is going to continue to be a social media platform that my peers and I use. By incorporating marketing strategies that have an organic feel, each brand's post will continue to increase its brand awareness, making it an effective strategy for businesses to share stories through imagery.


Snapchat's new "Live" update gives users a chance to share their stories at featured events. This is a smart way for brands to showcase their events in an organic and natural way. Paris Fashion Week, Chinese New Year and March Madness are just a few of the different live feeds that Snapchat updated throughout the day in real time. The platform's 10-second stories give outsiders a sneak peak into all of the action at the events and celebrations, making them feel as if they are actually there in addition to creating more hype of the event and brand. For example, Coachella will more than likely have a live feed. This will make viewers not only wish that they were there, but it will also incline them to purchase tickets to next year's festival even if prices are increased due to a high demand.


"Discover" on Snapchat is an incredibly creative way for a brand to get its name out there by increasing reach and brand awareness. Editorial teams display what is different and popular for their brand and industry. According to Snapchat, each edition includes full screen photos and videos, awesome form long layouts, and gorgeous advertising. It is a quick and easy way for Snapchatters to discover the latest news and pop culture all in one.


There are some sites for those long-worded intellectual titles explaining the context of an article and then there is Twitter, where you only have 140 characters to engage with your audience in hopes increasing the number of clicked links to drive website traffic and sales. In a world where today’s news is yesterday’s history, better yet history in the next couple hours, it is easy for users to scroll past your tweets. It is important to be concise, yet to the point. There is nothing worse than seeing a tweet that is confusing and uninteresting. Remember, you only have a few seconds to gain our attention and "unfollow" is only a click away. Be relevant. Be informative. Be interesting.


Much like Beyonce, hashtags and @tags run the world. Mainly used on Twitter and Instagram, hashtags are the easiest way for users to connect with others who are discussing similar topics. For instance, search for #Coachella this weekend on Twitter and Instagram. In literally seconds, you will learn every single thing you need to know about Coachella. In addition, users can be in direct contact with their favorite actors, airlines or clothing companies by simply tagging their verified account. It is simple and easy, so hashtag and tag away!


Endless boards help keep your chaotic life and ideas organized with some of your favorite things on Pinterest. My favorite thing is its user-friendliness. If you find something you like or want to purchase, simply click on the picture and you will be taken directly to where you need to go to learn more. The platform gives you the freedom to follow other accounts and to create your own profile to fit your unique personality, style and taste. Pinterest is an effective way to learn about companies or brands you may not have known existed before. In addition, I tend to find myself searching for products and brands on Pinterest, because it quickly gathers pins related to my search term so that I can easily explore. The more exposure a product has on Pinterest, the more exposure a brand will have within the users of Pinterest and beyond. The boundaries are limitless.


Yelp went from something I rarely used to something I used so much that I felt it was necessary to download the app and create an account. I have found this site to be extremely useful for companies everywhere, whether they are up and coming or have been around for years. Consumers have a huge say in the success of a company and Yelp has allowed customers' voices to make a difference in the face of the brand name. Regardless if I am looking to a grab bite to eat, shop at new stores or venture to different camping sites, I use Yelp for everything. The amount of stars, types of reviews and pictures have all of the say in the world.


Yelp allows its users to write about their experiences at places they have visited, regardless if it results in a positive or negative review. This alone proves the legitimacy of a company and the services they offer. Yelp is the place where the truth is always told. Companies should use Yelp to make sure they are meeting their customers expectations and see what services they need to improve upon.


Social Media is extremely prevalent with my generation as well as increasing with other generations. Even though different platforms all have the capability to provide their target audience with different ways to retrieve information, such as blog posts, pictures and videos, the key to gaining the most traffic to your site is timeliness and efficiency. The quicker the information is being received and the more efficiently information travels, the more people will engage with it. No one wants to browse and search for information. Your brand can easily gain more exposure by letting its brand message organically fall into the lap of the consumer with little effort, and there is no better way to achieve this than through social media.

Michelle Ruiz

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