How to tailor your Instagram for millennial audiences

Younger consumers won’t respond well to traditional advertising, so your social media strategy must get creative. Here are some tips for changing things up.

The data is clear: Most people simply don’t like ads.

This even applies to targeted ads, with 51% of adults saying that this marketing tactic is an inappropriate use of their personal data, instead of a convenient way to learn about products that might suit them. Only 27% of respondents consider it to be helpful.

The chance to advertise curated products and services to a nearly unlimited number of potential buyers is too good to pass up. Marketers who aim to please customers find that their hands are tied dishing out potentially unwanted ads.

Advertisers also must walk a tightrope when it comes to targeted ads and customer opinion. In another report, up to 63% of respondents say they would effectively boycott a brand for targeting them too insistently.

To make matters murkier, there is very little concrete data to help advertisers do the math and figure out if targeted ads are actually worth the extra cost compared with non-targeted ads. (A quick Google search will also show you that opinion is divided.)

What millennials want

The good news is that millennials might change things. Among 18- to 25-year-olds, 41% think that targeted ads are convenient. That’s almost exactly the inverse of the 55+ age group—and a positive sign for marketers.

Over the next decade or two, this group will become dominant online as their relative spending power grows. Here’s how to reach this ascendant demographic on Instagram:

1.      Offer value.

Millennials tend to buy with their minds, not their hearts. Prove to them that your product or service can contribute value to their lives, and you’ve got their attention.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t buy “vanity items,” but your product must either have sentimental value or be a sufficiently cost-effective option to win them over. Millennials like to compare products or read blogs and user reviews before they buy, which means they are less likely to buy on impulse.

2.      Create a tribe.

Millennials thrive on meaningful online interactions. They choose to buy from brands not only because they deliver products that can improve their lives, but also because they align with their value system. You’ll need to carefully research your target market to come up with a distinct personality that speaks to them. You might alienate some, but if you do it right and consistently, you’ll also cultivate a loyal base that might just suspend their picky buying habits for you.

3.      Fight for a cause.

Millennials are all about causes and making the world a better place. Do you run a 100% “green” business? Do you support local suppliers/charities? Do you provide opportunities for up-and-comers? If you do, tout your efforts.

Millennials believe more in causes than brands or organizations. Nail both, and you will win them over.

4.      Instagram is a social platform, not a billboard.

Striking the right balance with your posts, especially your captions, is crucial. Coming across too strong will make you seem desperate or uninteresting. Do it too often, and your followers will start to question whether they want your posts showing up in their feed at all.

Instead, use posts to start conversations or to continue telling your story. Remind them why they followed you in the first place, and remember that they crave meaningful interactions. Once you’ve got their attention, you can subtly sell to them and trust their loyalty to do the rest.

5.      Integrate all your channels.

According to the 80/20 rule, 80% of your returns come from 20% of your content.

Creating a consistent stream of great content burns a lot of time and resources. That’s why you need to take an omnichannel approach by repurposing content for various platforms (converting a blog post into an Instagram post, presentation, or an infographic).

Reusing other content on your Instagram channel will also help your storytelling and make it easier to keep posting engaging ads.

6.      Crowdsource your content.

Any healthy relationship goes both ways. Keep an eye on what your customers are saying about you. Has a customer recently shared a positive story about one of your products? Make it a part of your brand’s broader story by giving them a “shout out” by sharing or reposting their post.

It’s never been more important to know your audience inside and out. Millennials value meaningful interaction, brands that support a cause, and brands with a solid value-for-money offer. Though that means you might need to put some more time and work in upfront, if you do it right, you’ll earn a loyal following among what is soon to be the biggest group of online spenders.

Some final tips:

  • Instead of trying to pander to everyone, find the group that’s most likely to identify with your brand and focus on them.
  • Support a cause. Come up with a clear voice, and project your values consistently.
  • Engage consumers before trying to sell to them. If you do the other things right and trust in your brand and followers, the sales will come.

David Gutierrez is a web design freelancer and enjoys sharing his professional experience in digital marketing, web design and technology.

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