Marketing to millennials: Should brands spend money?

As social media increasingly becomes the tool of choice for millennials, is it sensible for brands and marketers to base their marketing strategy around user-generated content on these platforms and not invest any money into their strategy?

According to Rohit Sharma, founder and chief executive of Pokkt, a mobile video advertising and app monetisation platform for game developers, he tells The Drum that even though the millennial generation is extremely plugged into social, many companies are plunging headfirst into social without understanding that social simply cannot function as a standalone strategy as it must be incorporated as part of an integrated strategy.

“It is akin to functioning with tunnel vision, or with blinkers on – you end up overlooking other channels that could deliver greater reach, engagement, and which ultimately drive the bottom line,” he adds.

Sharma believes that social is prized for how easily it lends itself to native and while there are channels that might do this just as well, or even better. For example, he says by engaging the user in a mini-game within a game, in-game advertising is the perfect example of native, with a far higher guarantee that the user will actually see and interact with content, instead of simply scrolling past as they might do on a social feed. “Furthermore, the nature of the games in question often allow for short, predictable breaks – easy spaces for advertisers to communicate their message without being annoying or interruptive,” he adds.

However, there are some brands who buck the trend by putting their trust into social media. Take GlampingCity for example, a company that combines glamour and camping for people who want a hotel-style accommodation, but with the feel of outdoor camping.

Its entry into Singapore was initially met with scepticism, but the trend slowly caught on when the company started posting picturesque photos on its Instagram page, taken by its staff and local social media influencers that it collaborates with.

Aside from its Instagram page and a website, GlampingCity does not have any budget allocated for ad spend and marketing strategy, according to founder Ryan Lam, adding that glamping caught on fast in Singapore through word of mouth and social media because people were posting about their experiences with it.

Night shot taken by the talented @xavlur ✨

A post shared by And so the adventure begins ✨ (@glampingcity) on Aug 24, 2017 at 5:03am PDT

Lam, who was speaking to The Drum on the sidelines of the 2017 ACI Asia Business Summit in Singapore, also reveals that 50% of the photos on the company’s Instagram page is from his own team. “This business is very new, so we have not approached anyone (influencer) yet, all of our collaborations and partnerships, it all came naturally. I spent zero dollars on marketing. I only spent on logistics. The publicity came naturally.”

“I don’t plan to pay influencers, the genuine ones, maybe, not those that are looking to do it for their own benefit,” he adds.

Bart Mroz, co-founder and CEO of Sumo Heavy, a ecommerce consulting company, tells The Drum that he agrees with GlampingCity’s social media heavy strategy as he feels that social should be a main priority for the production, distribution and syndication of content when it comes to marketing to millennials as they are changing the ways brands market.

Brands like Sephora and Nike, have also been successful in marketing to millennials by using Instagram to post visually stunning photos that clearly reflects brand identity and draws users in, according to Mroz, noting that Nike has become the 19th most followed account and the fifth most used hashtag, while Sephora has increased its engagement rate and now boasts nearly 13 million followers.

Mroz however, adds that in order to effectively use social media, brands still need to put money into these platforms. “You won’t see the needle move much if you don’t invest. Marketers need to shift their spending from traditional channels like TV, print, and PPC to social media. For example, Facebook and Instagram are both strong channels because of their high engagement rates, robust targeting options, and popularity with this demographic.”

Noting that 41% of millennials use Facebook every day, which makes it still the number one marketing channel, and that Instagram and Snapchat are catching up because the platforms are very different in style and have features that attracting more millennials, Mroz says: “Therefore, brands should still focus on Facebook, but pay much more attention to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat to better engage with this target audience in the long-run.”

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