Lisa Davidson is a writer and Account Manager at Thought-Horizon. Anne Kiely is a Content Operations Intern and writer at Thought Horizon.
How to appeal to millennials on social media in the B2B world
When writing for your company’s social media page, it’s essential to remember that many of your readers are from the millennial generation. Born between 1981 and 1997, millennials are no longer new to the corporate world. This group now makes up over 35% of employed Americans, making them the largest generation currently in the workforce.
Millennials are also more likely to use social media than older generations. Statistics show that Americans under age 50 use social media at significantly higher rates than those who are older. 30- to 49-year-olds, many of whom fall into the millennial age range, are the demographic most likely to use LinkedIn, the cornerstone of social media for business. No wonder many B2B buyers are millennials, making them a primary target audience for online sales due to their involvement and experience with social media and its professional applications.
Like every generation, millennials have a wide range of experiences and opinions. However, understanding fundamental trends in young professionals’ preferences will help your business maintain an online presence in tune with current norms and attract potential clients.
Strive for authenticity
In the business world, millennials tend to value openness and authenticity, especially in the form of personal anecdotes. Surveys show that they believe workplace communication, especially from managers, lacks transparency, and they’re often unresponsive to generic advertising and mass messaging. Social selling, a more personalized approach to sales that focuses on building relationships, often fits millennials’ preferences better. To capture a young professional audience for your company’s page, make sure to share observations, anecdotes and insights that only you can offer.
For instance, your marketing experience might intersect with your love of comics to give you ideas for unique, eye-catching billboards. Maybe your time working abroad has helped you understand the challenges of building global wireless infrastructure, or your background in scientific research gave you data analysis skills that you can now apply to finance. Discussing your distinctive combination of interests and expertise will convey that your perspective is genuine and valuable.
An authentic presence also requires showing that you’re committed to strong business relationships. Millennial consumers often respond well to social proof such as reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations and user-generated content when making purchasing decisions. Sharing testimonials or specific stories about working with clients will demonstrate that you’re dedicated, reliable and collaborative.
Showcase your company’s purpose
Millennials are more likely than previous generations to spend money on experiences, such as traveling, seeing live music or learning new skills, rather than material items. Seventy-eight percent of millennials report that they would rather pay for an enjoyable event than purchase something new. This translates into a focus on the buying experience, especially the values and social impact of companies.
When millennials take on the role of B2B buyers, they often look for information about the beliefs and goals of potential partners. This is another reason to include personal stories on corporate social media. They often illustrate your values better than a generic statement could. Whether your company’s culture is built around collaboration, tradition or innovation, make sure to communicate your core beliefs through your online content.
Be accessible on social media
Overall, millennials are more likely than previous generations to seek out dynamic engagement on social media. When posting about your company, include questions and prompts for your audience to respond to in the comments section. In addition, as a digitally involved demographic, millennials tend to expect quick responses to questions and comments online. Monitoring your social media profiles and replying to any interactions as quickly as possible will impress many of today’s B2B buyers.
Although the engagement surrounding your content should be a high priority, you also need to make sure the posts on your blog and social media accounts align with current content standards. Stereotypically, millennials have little patience for lengthy, dry written material. Indeed, large blocks of text don’t perform as well as shorter paragraphs with clear subheadings. Instead of explaining every concept in depth and providing information that not every reader needs, use hyperlinks to give readers the option to explore further without interrupting the flow of the post. Photos and videos can also help bring your content to life.
Don’t be afraid to go in depth
Although it’s important to avoid tangential information in your posts, the idea that millennials have short attention spans and a low capacity for complexity is false. In a digital world that’s overflowing with irrelevant content, the skill of quickly scanning a piece for useful information is essential for efficient research. It’s possible to make this process easier for your reader without sacrificing nuance and quality. In reality, millennials often know quality when they see it. They read more than any other generation, and their radar for inauthentic, insubstantial, poorly written content is highly tuned.
Brevity isn’t necessarily the key to getting attention. People, as well as search algorithms, most often share content that’s at least 1300 words. Don’t shy away from writing longer articles for your company’s blog, as long as the information is valuable, and proofread your work to make a good impression on buyers. They can tell whether you put in the effort to polish a post.
Keep up with changing standards
Millennials aren’t the only people who appreciate authenticity, purpose and high-quality content. Striving to meet these standards can also help your posts appeal to older readers, not to mention younger ones. Generation Z, born between 1998 and 2012, is beginning to graduate from college, and they will soon join the corporate world and the B2B marketplace. Their impact on the working world remains to be seen. Still, they seem likely to echo millennials’ preference for honesty and social responsibility while being a little less idealistic than their older counterparts.
Growing up during the 2008 recession influenced many Gen Z members to focus on practical value and adopt a realistic outlook. They’re also immersed in the digital landscape, having used the internet from a young age. A bit of ironic humor, an understanding of communication technology and a focus on how your company can truly give back to your community may help attract the interest of workers younger than millennials.
Remember to seek individual connections
Of course, no generation is homogenous, and social selling goes beyond demographic analysis. As always, the core of any social selling program is composed of the individual relationships you form with other members of your industry and conversations about their unique views and experiences.
Judging from your own experience or others’, what approaches to sales and business tend to resonate with young professionals? Let us know in the comments below.