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Millennial Myopia: A Big Social Media Trap

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The millennials. They are the next generation, the digital generation. They don’t know what life was like before the Internet. They’re taking over the world, and we all need to understand the best way to grab their attention and get their money.  

But here’s the thing. The millennial generation, or Gen Y, is just as diverse as any other. As a group, they certainly show distinctive tendencies and trends. But like Gen X and the baby boomers before them, millennials can be divided into countless subsets by all the usual segmentation suspects. Every single person born between 1980 and 2000 may have age in common, but they are also the most diverse group on the planet and value individuality above almost all else. What’s true for one millennial may be anathema to another.

This diversity makes the frenzy around marketing to millennials frequently questionable. For example, the assumption that social media is the be-all, end-all channel for reaching millennials. Sure, they are online and probably a site or two ahead of you on the coolness curve. But while they definitely use social media and help drive its evolution, it’s not the only platform they use, and they are not the only ones out there.

Social media as a whole has become virtually age agnostic, used across the demographic spectrum. It’s time that we all agree that social media is now a part of our world part of everybody’s world and it isn’t going away.

Mitigating Millennial Myopia: Social Media Beyond Gen Y

The problem with the oversimplification of “social media is for the young” is that it implicitly discredits social as a platform for reaching everyone else. A report comes out that millennials are quitting Facebook, and the marketing world immediately begins looking for other places to direct their efforts. This is a dangerous and faulty knee-jerk reaction. Hundreds of millions of other potential customers are still there, and with less cynicism and overexposure, are probably more receptive to your messages anyway.

In my opinion, the blanket efficacy of social for millennial marketing is yet another misconception. Companies often believe that just because they use social media personally, millennials will automatically be its best or worse, only targets from a business perspective. I have spoken with countless financial advisors who use social media for business and have had better success reaching new clients of all ages — particularly those in the 35-to-55 age bracket.

Source: Socialware

A recent example of social media millennial myopia comes from BNY Mellon and the University of Oxford’s Said Business School. In “Want to Win Millennials? Don’t Bet on Social Media,” they concluded that less than 1% of millennials want financial services providers to connect with them through social media. The implication of the article is that if millennials aren’t biting on social, no one will. This assumption, again, is incorrect.

Social media works, even in highly regulated industries like financial services. You can reach millennials, if you do it right. But even if you couldn’t, so what? There are hundreds of millions of GenXers, boomers and beyond socializing away online, and they have money to invest and protect, too.

Social Success at Every Age, in Every Industry

Benefiting from social media is all about knowing how to use it effectively and which tactics to use to target the right audience. Let’s stop focusing on age, generation and even survey results to “prove” the power of social. With thoughtful content, meaningful interactions and strategic decisions, age is truly just a number.