Attention! Young people hate your Facebook campaign

The youth market is the golden nut that many marketers dream of cracking. It seems to inherently have the appeal that brands want, and the social cache to effortlessly share with millions of their cool friends.

5 digital trends to help you understand the youth market better

The youth market is the golden nut that many marketers dream of cracking. It seems to inherently have the appeal that brands want, and the social cache to effortlessly share with millions of their cool friends. Celebrity Millennials and their use of social media (we’re looking at you; Riri and Cara) only reinforces the idea of the effortless spread of marketing messaging to a receptive consumer market. But the truth is that engaging these time poor, cynical consumers can be difficult. So how can 2.0 brands catch up with the 3.0 consumer? Here are a few trends we think you have to pay attention to.

1. The medium is irrelevant and the message is the message

Corporate social structures are very hung up on trying to understand what to say and how to connect in various channels. But the message for 2014 is all about shouldn’t matter which channel you’re on, all of your communications should look and feel effortlessly similar. Core communication hooks that translate across channels should lead into your different owned media. Brands shouldn’t think multi-channel, they should already be multi-channel, because their consumers are. Channels are becoming more invisible, so the need is increasing to meet consumers where they are. Look at Virgin Money’s #extramile campaign or #blogmanay for examples that work.

2. People want Shorter Sharper Faster communications

The youth market is becoming savvier about its digital footprint and increasingly time poor in a world that is awash with social media, driving the rise of time-limited communications. Both in terms of durability (for example Snapchat) and in terms of duration (e.g. Vine). Buzzfeed’s 160 million visits per month list-based bite sized servings and Tinder’s quick ‘swipe left’ interfaces are further examples of this. For popular appeal, create something punchy that is easy to pass on. Give it a pithy message and a hint of insouciance and you’ve got a winner.

3. Nobody wants to appeal to everyone

The counter argument to the above is that no trend is a one-size-fits-all. People want short sharp bursts of consumable content, but this is also driving a counter culture of a desire for authenticity in communications (and in life). Brands that back their message with action are ones that get the most traction. BrewDog and Innocent are great examples of this. There are no shortcuts to building a cool authentic brand, the catch is that you have to be a cool authentic brand before you can shout about this in your messaging. Brands need to ‘story-do’ to build interest rather than simply story tell. Make sure you’re shouting about the things that make you genuinely unique or useful, and be aware that this is hard to fake. Millennials aren’t easily fooled by hype.

4. Curation is a shortcut

With the ubiquity of information, communities of interest are the shortest line between two points. Hashtags, pinboards and specific channels are a great way to curate content and keep track of things that you are interested in. Consumers aren’t coming to your content anymore, they are expecting you to appear in streams where they are already searching. So if you’re a travel website, best you be on curated spaces that people look for travel inspiration. Or why not stop trying to create content and instead become a really great curator instead? The important point is that you need to make sure that your input is valuable – authenticity of communication is key. Younger consumers want to feel that they belong to a community of interest.

5. Selfish Collaboration as the greater good

The collaborative economy has been the watchword for a while (thanks to the inimitable Mr Owyang) but the sharing economy, maker movement and co-innovation are key elements that brands need to be plugging in to in 2014. The core is that people are sharing, are working together and are collaborating on everything from campaigns to car long as it presents the best outcome for them. An essential part of this is to work with the users on things that they want to create and not try and make them make something else. Or why not work with other brands and collaborate on something bigger than the sum of its parts.

What this means for brands in the future: