By the year 2018, Millennials (those of us born between 1980 and 2000) will have more spending power than any other generation. And yet some of the tactics brands are using to market themselves as socially responsible makes our eyes roll. No, I don’t feel warm and fuzzy when the CEO of an oil company takes a selfie at the dolphin sanctuary. Quite the opposite, in fact. When it comes to socially responsible marketing, Millennials expect transparency, authenticity and privacy.

But while some companies manage to provide it through their clearly defined brand identities, other companies are still coming across as clichéd or disingenuous despite their good intentions.

If you’re having trouble attracting the Millennial spenders, here are three key ways you can engage with us based on brand value, not product price.


Social Media Posts

Move over Game of Thrones. This is social media—the home of keyboard warriors and endless debates about politics, social justice and growing global concerns such as Pokemon Go.

We’ve got hashtags for the good, the bad and the ugly. And we’re not afraid to use them.

According to public relations agency Cone Communications, 66% of Millennials in the US use social media to engage around social responsibility.

Millennials love to share, and this often means they’re more inclined to purchase from brands that are open about their values. With most Millennials checking their smartphones more than 40 times a day, social media is an effective way to interact with your community and show that you care about the same things they do.

Create emotional ties

Companies committed to social value are 56% more likely to compel Millennials to purchase. As a purpose-driven generation, it pays to be natural. If you have a volunteering day, post some pictures or videos of your team getting stuck in, and talk about the feelings that drove them to get involved. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with your online community—transparency is a key driver for Millennials.

Actionable tips:

1.     Set clear intentions around how you’ll interact with your online tribe.

2.     Foster genuine conversations about values and ethics with your community.

3.     Be open to receiving honest feedback about your company.




Blogs are usually run by individuals, and so can give Millennials an unfiltered perspective on a product or service. Like me, more than a third of Millennials review blogs before making a purchase. I’m much more likely to trust a peer’s review of the new vegan café than the advertising done by the business itself.

If a business opens with a lot of hype, I’ll wait to see what my peers’ experiences were like before I try it out myself. Why? Because I know they’ll be honest with me, and (hopefully) won’t sail me down the plant-based river.

The power of user-generated content

User-generated content is peer-created media. And with Millennials trusting user-generated content 50% more than other media, it’s no surprise it’s being crowned the new king of media.

Millennials also prefer raw information. So keep the “bad” reviews, and where appropriate have someone respond to them. This shows us that:

·       you’re willing to take action based on consumer feedback

·       your business has nothing to hide.

Actionable tips:

1.     Share blog reviews from outside sources, and show genuine gratitude for their support

2.     Make it easy for Millennials to like and share with their tribe.

3.     Extend special offers to individuals that go above and beyond to champion your brand.

Video for socially responsible marketing

If you want to attract Millennials to your business, you need an online video presence. Three out of four Millennials say they rely on watching videos as part of their brand research, which means it’s a great opportunity to connect with them on an emotional level and start a two-way conversation about the things that matter the most.

A great example of this is the #dearme campaign that ran for international Women’s Day in 2015. It inspired women to empower young girls by sharing wise words they’d say to the younger versions of themselves.

Actionable tips:

1.     Talk about your business values, and how they align with your audience’s beliefs.

2.     Encourage your community to make videos about the things they’re passionate about, and create a social hashtag that goes hand in hand.

3.     Use creative storytelling to paint a picture that defines your business purpose and how it benefits society.

So there you have it: three ways you can engage with Millennials, and tempt them into buying your products.

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