Several reports and interpretations were published today about a new study conducted by NewsCred, a content marketing platform, entitled “The Millennial Mind: How Content Drives Brand Loyalty.” The study “reveals that educational, truthful, and personalized content has a strong influence on US millennials’ brand loyalty and purchase behaviors,” according to today’s media release.
This study surveyed 501 US millennials in October 2019. Two key results are:
- “Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed feel that online content drives their loyalty to a brand – yet the content they’re receiving is turning them off by not helping them navigate their everyday problems, being too long, sales-driven, buy Instagram video views, and not tailoring messaging to individual cultural interests. “
- “Only 12 percent of respondents declared their active dislike for marketing communications showing that personalized, funny, intelligent, and helpful content marketing has an open door to drive millennials’ loyalty and purchase decisions.”
As marketers and as people NOT of the millennial generation, the Partners at Little Black Dog Social Media and More decided to conduct our own tiny and arguably unscientific survey of some other non-millennials. The clear conclusion among the people we surveyed was that both of the results stated above are “absolutely ludicrous.”
From their point of view, very few intelligent and self-sufficient individuals would even begin to trust marketers or marketing collateral (= content) to help them navigate their everyday problems.” Further, those we interviewed found it odd that anyone would base purchase decisions on “funny, intelligent, and helpful content marketing,” rather than the quality, efficacy, and proven benefits of the product or service under consideration.
Now, our goal is not to deride the opinions of any generation or the way they choose to make purchase decisions. Our point is that if marketers wish to provide the information their target market needs in order to make an informed purchase decision, they need to understand their target market and respond to their questions and concerns appropriately.
What we are seeing far too often in articles offering marketing guidance to small businesses is a focus on data derived from social media – which is predominantly the domain of millennials – and a tacit assumption that marketers need focus only on these opinions in order to market products, services or brands effectively.
We promised a few thoughts about knowing your social media audience. We will limit ourselves to a few thoughts here.
First, all businesses (of any size) should not focus entirely on millennials as their target market. Unless your product or service is geared only to millennials, such a narrow definition of the target market is unnecessarily restrictive.
Second, something very important is often lost in appropriating these articles and studies: the fact that people of all generations (and even all millennials) do not respond to certain marketing tactics and strategies in the same way. For example, many baby boomers find pop-overs and overlay irritating.
Third, people of different generations prefer different kinds of humor.
Fourth, as adoption rates and user demographics for most social media platforms continue to show rapid adoption by older generations, we should expect studies of social media users to become more complex, more segmented by age, and more varied in responses to these questions.
Finally, we should never assume that people who are active on social media can be realistically segmented on the basis of age alone. Segmentation should increasingly reflect response patterns, interests, and preferred methods of communication.
What is the point of all of this? It is simple: Take surveys (especially those utilizing a very small sample) with a grain of salt, and with a large sieve to filter out the findings that are generation-specific. If you have invested the time, effort, and research to know your target audience and their preferences and needs, you should be able to identify research findings that are, and are not, relevant to your target audience. Everyone you want to reach on social media – or elsewhere – is not a millennial and is not likely to have the same expectations of marketing content. Know your audience.