How brands can ‘engage better’ with millennials online

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If anyone can claim to have any insight into how millennials behave online, it would be Yahoo, the Internet giant that owns the popular social network Tumblr. At FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week 2015, Edwin Wong, senior director of B2B strategic research and insights at Yahoo Canada, delved into new research on how brands can connect better online with their fans.

Wong quoted from a new study by Yahoo, “Engage Better,” to show what has been working for brands so far and offered tips on how to stay at the top.

It’s worth noting that, according to the report, 32 percent of content shared by text or instant message is often shared with a group, meaning if brands can land the right message, it can reach far. Further, seven in 10 Canadian users say they know what branded content is, with five in 10 saying they will occasionally, even frequently, share it.

The report also found that users expect to see unique content when they interact with brands.

That content will only work, however, if it’s brief and shareable. Tumblr seems to be an ideal place for brands, with a wide range of post formats: video, photos, text and even GIFs, Wong said.

He then went into detail on the five strategic principles for branded content.

Be transparent: Branded content should always be completely clear that it’s a sponsored post. A large brand logo, for example, is a good way to be up-front.

Be an individual, and be ready to evolve: Find your specific brand voice and know that your audience’s needs will continue to change.

Deliver on emotion, and know that humour rules: Users are more likely to share material that brings an emotion, whether that’s sadness or joy. And millennials, more than anything, are attracted to content with comedic value.

Be inclusive: Brands should be aware that publishing posts in other languages can rope in far larger communities.

Act like the locals: Be in touch with what people in the community like and the type of vocabulary they use.

And for communicating, he outlined six tactics.

Set the mood: Do you want your content to make users feel happy? Sad?

Help them discover: Show them places and things they’ve never seen before.

Help them escape: Just as above, allow them to immerse themselves in your world.

Fuel creativity and play: Play around with all formats available, from a short Vine video to a series of GIFs. But use memes wisely.

Spotlight pop culture: Plug into the power of superfandoms like fantasy sports leagues, and nod to nostalgia.

Help them succeed: As Wong explained, consumers don’t want a hero, they want a helper. How-tos can go a long way.

Brands should have human characteristics, Wong says, and not just look like a faceless entity. The more brands can connect on a personal level with their audiences, the more effective their content will be.

For our previous coverage of Advertising Week, go here.

Photo via Twitter

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Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas is a staff editor at Digital Journal Inc. He is a graduate from Ryerson University's School of Journalism in Toronto. He also founded Grayowl Point, a Canadian music blog that's been online since 2009.

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