Every marketer has thought about the strategic importance of reaching Millennials, a group that has been anecdotally referred to as the “most researched generation in history.” Millennials were born between 1976 and 1994 (although the exact dates of each generation fluctuate depending on the source), grew up immersed in the Internet, and will represent an estimated $200 billion in annual purchasing power by 2017. Even more interesting, Generation Z, the 25.9% of the population born after 1994, is swiftly approaching adulthood and has the potential to be just as strong a marketing opportunity as its predecessor. New research suggests that marketers believe influencer marketing is the fastest-growing marketing strategy of 2015 and the most effective way to reach Millennial and Gen Z audiences. With their reliance on social media and interest in visual content, influencer marketing campaigns are the perfect vehicle for brands looking for creative ways to connect with younger consumers. Here’s a closer look at the research and the big takeaway for brands.
Influencer Marketing and Younger Customer Demographics
AdWeek’s SocialTimes column recently covered several pieces of research on the power of influencer marketing that underscore its importance in every brand’s marketing mix. One survey of 125 marketers noted that influencer marketing was the fastest-growing marketing segment and revealed that corporate influencer marketing budgets are on the rise. This connects with an increasing reliance on online recommendations and reviews; some figures estimate that as much as 92% of the population believes in word of mouth recommendations (even from strangers) over branded content. The connections are particularly profound on visual networks like YouTube, Instagram, and Vine. For example, one profile of Gen Z consumers revealed that 52% use YouTube or social media for school assignments, communicate primarily using images, and spend more than three hours a day connected to the internet for non-school- or non-work-related activities. Brands that want to connect with younger audiences need to be thinking about generating visual-based influence campaigns on the leading social networks.
Celebrity Endorsements Give Way to Influencer Marketing
In a study of more than 1,500 teens conducted by Variety, it was revealed that YouTube stars are more trusted than TV and movie celebrities. This indicates a dramatic shift in the influencer marketing space, which often began with an eye toward garnering an endorsement from a top celebrity. But today, brands are seeing higher returns (as much as $6.50 for every $1 invested, according to one source) on influencer marketing that focuses on digital media content creators.
4 Key Takeaways for Brands
Optimize Visual Campaigns for Multiple Channels and Screens
Millennials are connected to 2 or 3 screens at any point in time; Gen Z consumers with as many as five. Visual campaigns need to leverage images and videos that work across platforms and channels. If your campaigns are primarily text heavy, it’s time to consider a visual campaign. An influencer marketing initiative can be an organic and authentic way to introduce your brand story or products to the market. Partnering with successful content creators gives brand leveraged production capacity, while helping to ensure you reach your campaign targets.
Keep Short Attention Spans in Mind
Sources routinely note that our average attention span today is eight seconds. Social media interactions are becoming increasingly micro; Tweets are just 140 characters, and content creators have six seconds to tell a story on Vine. While other platforms like YouTube allow for more flexibility, it’s more important than ever to remember that grabbing consumers’ attention – especially younger audiences – requires a focused, hard-hitting message. Visual quality, storytelling, a powerful hook, and a relatable ambassador are all elements that contribute to the success of an influencer marketing initiative.
Focus on Benefits Over Brands
Influencer campaigns can focus on any number of objectives, from raising brand awareness to spreading a cause-based message to selling a product. But a successful campaign always starts with the question: “What’s in it for the viewer?” Younger audiences display a high level of resistance to brand advertising but also have high levels of brand loyalty once you win them over. It all starts by asking how your brand can help meet their most important needs, and communicating that in an authentic and accessible way. Influencer marketing is the perfect vehicle for having these conversations.
Connect with the Right Partner
Launching an influencer marketing campaign is one of the most effective ways to reach younger audiences. It’s important to meet your consumers where they’re most active. For Millennials and Generation Z buyers, that means connecting on networks like Vine, Instagram, and YouTube. Brands that navigate these platforms alone can quickly become frustrated and fail to see an appropriate ROI for the time and money invested. Instead, working with a partner like FullBottle streamlines the process of identifying influencers, enables a smooth campaign execution, and simplifies reporting and analytics with end-to-end service. FullBottle’s experienced team guides clients through the entire process to ensure the best campaign outcomes, from defining campaign parameters to overseeing implementation.
Are you ready to explore whether influencer marketing is the right fit for you? Contact FullBottle today to learn more about our solutions.