2017 is a weird year for us entitled, avocado-eating millennials. As a 22-year-old living out of home and working in a world of suits, I don’t know what the hell is going on. Confirmation bias is woven through my social media feeds; my screens are yelling at me about youth unemployment and the future of work and all I see is shifty political agendas. I don’t know who to trust. I don’t know why we have managed to justify the inhumane treatment of people fleeing war-torn countries. I am so damn nervous about the state of the environment and I don’t know what to do about it, other than to replace my spray deodorant with roll-on. The last thing I want to see is more overt advertising in the spaces I go to make sense of the world.
As a secondary teacher-in-training, I am passionate about young people. I am passionate about education and finding meaning in unique and creative ways (English teacher, can you guess?). I understand how the current education structure limits young people from reaching their potential and from finding great joy in learning. They graduate confused, curling up in the comforts of their all-knowing, algorithm-induced feeds, yearning for a sense of direction and purpose.
Through my work at Year13, I can see how much education, travel and employment providers can do for young people as they’re on the way out of these restrictive learning environments. But how are we supposed to break through and communicate with young people? How can we build trust and a sense of loyalty when everything is changing so rapidly? Especially when they so overtly despise advertising (holla ad-blockers). The following seven points may be helpful.
1. Video Content
Social media will continue becoming more and more like a television, which pairs well with the trends we’re seeing on video-sharing apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. It’s time to embrace video, and produce it in a way that engages young people in innovative ways. On a mobile device, we only have 1.7 seconds to engage a user. If you don’t want to keep watching your own video after 1.7 seconds, guaranteed your users won’t either.
Most of us know a young person: a son or daughter, a niece or nephew. Ask if you can skim through their newsfeeds for a bit. Notice how different their feed looks to your own. They only see what is relevant to them and their peers. Watch the videos that their friends are tagging them in (if they’ll let you). Take notes.
2. Further Adoption of Traditional Values
We assume that young people today are less attached, less concerned with stability, and less committed to long-term relationships. The research might surprise you.
In 2016, studies in the UK showed that youth audiences aged 16-24 are increasingly appreciative of traditional values. According to participants, getting married (57%), having children (58%), home ownership (54%), and the traditional route of going to school, college and uni (71%) are the most important milestones of today (FactoryMedia, 2016).
Year13’s research supports this. After conducting a poll of 250 of our 16-22-year-old users in January 2017, 35% said they believe they should invest their money into a house. Travel and Education were close behind (23% each), Stocks (10%) and Starting a Business (9%) following. 42% said they planned to enter tertiary education in 2017.
What does this mean for 2017? It means that our marketing and our messaging needs to support the values of these young people. While diversifying content to encapsulate those with differing experiences and perspectives is important, we need to communicate with youth where they’re at. Keep up to date with your research.
3. Paid Social Media Advertising
You won’t be able to reap profitable rewards without slinging some cash into your social media marketing this year. In 2016 Facebook changed its algorithm, which resulted in less traffic being sent to outside content. Why? Because Facebook wants you to stay on their site. They’re like your pet dog when you go on holidays, they don’t want you to leave. In fact, if you do, they’ll probably spend the next 24 hours crying and howling. I imagine Facebook doing the same.
It is estimated that by 2017, US$35.98 billion will be spent by marketers on social advertising. This means the Facebook news feed is a more competitive marketplace than ever. The content you don’t boost will be lost in the masses of sponsored content.
To break through to youth, first you’ve got to have great content that people will like and share, then you’ve got to spend money to get it noticed. When people share your content, your organic reach increases 10-fold. People generally share content when it makes them appear smarter or funnier – that should be the focus of all your content. So be smart with the way you build your content strategy, and spread your marketing budget into social media.
4. Live Video
As it stands, 70% of 16-24s classify themselves as impatient (Factory Media, 2016). And guess what? Social media is feeding it. Facebook has this whole ‘live streaming’ thing, and Instagram does too. This is an avenue companies need to start exploring. Think about the creative ways in which you can use this feature to engage and create greater transparency between you and your fans. Invite the user into your business and your events, answer their questions and show them you are human. Care less about aggregation (likes, followers and fans) and more about relationships – young people care more about people than they care about brands (BazaarVoice).
5. Influencer Marketing
You need to know your visitor before they knock on the door. You need to know what wine they’re bringing, what plate of food will be in their hands and what they’ll be wearing. It’ll help you to prepare the space in which they’re entering.
But how can you be prepared for that? Well it helps if you already know them intimately. And if not, you need to watch them in the world before you greet them. You need to connect with the people and the brands that they are. You need to form partnerships with these influencers to see how they communicate effectively with your visitors and prospective visitors.
Influencer marketing is not a new thing, not by any means. But it’s a trend that will continue throughout 2017. More and more companies (such as Westpac and QANTAS) are paying media agencies to build websites and content distributors to engage their audiences more effectively because their brand cannot do it under their own name (mostly because multiple audiences require multiple marketing strategies). Connect with your industry’s influencers and see how you can collaborate. If you’ve got a youth audience, send me a message and let’s get to work. Year13 is an avenue worth exploring.
6. Lead Generation
It’s always been about leads, but now Facebook is making it much easier to generate them. You no longer have to create landing pages or pop-ups to get your potential client’s details. With the click of a button this direct response marketing tactic automatically completes the form with the user’s details (thanks Facebook) – all they have to do is press submit. Done!
At Year13, we don’t use this feature, because we generate leads for a variety of different clients and for a variety of different products. We send our user onto a landing page with a very simple layout, coupled with engaging video content and imagery related to the CTA. Instant Articles is a new Facebook feature which allows the user to click out to our landing page without exiting the app, which means the page loads much quicker and doesn’t deter the user by sending them off Facebook. You may have noticed some companies using this feature already. We only use this feature on lead generation.
7. The Unexpected
This last one seems like a bit of a cop-out, but it’s not. The truth is, it’s impossible to know what’s coming this year. Which app will come out with what new feature? What new platforms will arise and spread among the masses? Which educational institutions will (finally) shift in response to the future of work? Which platforms will die an untimely death? With youth, it’s dramatic, unstable and ever-changing. We need to make sure we are ready for the unexpected. We need to make sure we’re always looking for it, using our intuition to deduce the gradual rise and fall of youth trends.