Speaking the language of the younger generation

Posted by Kacy Johnson on June 10, 2016 9:00:00 AM PDT
Kacy Johnson

Millennials are beginning to take over the workplace, and with them come fresh new ideas, creative concepts, and a willingness to bend the rules that define “how it’s always been done.” This is especially true when it comes to marketing. The new language of this generation is social media, which creates a new communication vehicle for marketing. Over the past decade, technology has changed the way businesses market, especially when it comes to millennials. Millennials grew up differently and are accustomed to a different lifestyle than our parents or grandparents. We don’t read the newspaper or watch the news, but instead we keep up-to-date with the world on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Advertisements on social media are the ones that grasp our attention. Marketing has transformed from physical advertisements to digital advertisements. For example, advertising used to showcase Michael Jordon on a Wheaties box in the grocery store, and now it’s Kylie Jenner wearing Puma clothes in her Instagram posts. If businesses want to stay relevant with the new generation they have to evolve to social media marketing.

Showcasing our lives

Social media marketing targets the lives of millennials. We showcase our lives through social media. What’s a better way to market to us, than by how we market ourselves? Our day-to-day activities are broadcast through every single social media app. We display what we are eating for dinner, what kind of puppy we just bought, and where we go on vacation. We live through our phones. Our phones are our lives. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel naked if I don’t have my phone on me. Millennials not only interact with their friends and family through social media, but also companies. Marketing through social media gains the most exposure for companies because this is how millennials interact with each other.


The companies that present themselves on social media are in a league of their own. They’re the companies we buy from. We follow the companies we love on every single social media app they have a presence on. Since we are on these apps every day, these companies have the ability to market to us every day. A simple post makes us think about them and the products and/or services the company has to offer. The digital marketing age empowers marketing every single day. The interaction we have with companies expresses to us that they care. The companies that interact with us are the ones we tell our friends about. It’s really awesome to mention a company on a Twitter post and get a response back. We like it when companies have time for us. This can also be used in a negative way as well. I’ve seen friends post about the terrible experience they had at a restaurant or with an airline. This gains the companies’ attention, and they have the ability to reach out through social media and fix the situation. Either way, when a company responds, we feel like they want to know their customers.

The ‘like effect’

Digital marketing is tricky. When it comes to social media, attaining followers is the goal. It’s simple: The more followers a company has, the bigger audience they have to market to. For Facebook and Instagram, the like effect is key. On Facebook when a friend of yours likes a company’s page or post, it’s added to your newsfeed. On Instagram, when someone you follow likes a post or follows someone new, it’s added to your activity feed as well. The attention a company gains from each “like” is huge. It all depends on how many people are friended or following them, but the like effect is real. Whenever I see one of my friends following someone new or like a post that looks intriguing to me, I click to see what all the fuss is about. The like effect is free marketing a company doesn’t need to do; it happens because of social media. A company gains attention every single time a like happens.

Brand awareness

Increasing brand awareness is the goal for social media marketing. The more brand awareness you have, the potential for more sales increases. Social media marketing has the ability to increase brand awareness with help from the “like effect.” When it comes to brand awareness, having a unique brand is special. The uniqueness of your company can set you apart from your competitors. Millennials like unique. Social media is about being different. We like to be different from our friends, and we want the companies we follow to be different as well. Competitors like Nike and Under Armour have unique social media accounts because they are two different companies. How they market themselves is how they set themselves apart. They have different brands and different consumers, so they want brand awareness to come from their differences.


Right now, marketing is social media–based. It wasn’t 10 years ago, and it probably won’t be in another 10 years. The companies that adapted to this new way of marketing are the companies that made it and are relevant today. Adapting to the new normal helps keep your company current. Technology continues to change and develop. Adapting is a big part of marketing—knowing who to market to and how to market. Keeping your company successful comes with the ability to adapt.

What will be the next big thing? The next big thing doesn’t just pop up one day … it evolves slowly over time until suddenly everyone recognizes it, because they’ve all adapted to it … and almost always, it comes from younger generations. Smart marketers always keep their eyes on up-and-coming generations who are embracing change, risking the traditional, and establishing the new normal.

Topics: Digital Marketing