‘Y’ now is the time for positive change
I am a #selfie taker, Facebook checker, blogger and proud Instagram-er. Yes, that’s right, I am a millennial, part of generation Y.
A stark contrast to our baby boomer parents, apparently we’re hard to motivate and easily distracted. Wait, have you seen Kourtney Kardashian is pregnant again…
Anyway, despite our short attention span, millennials also have lots of brilliant characteristics too. Along with being the most connected and engaged generation, The Guardian Media blog reports that we are ambitious and non-conformist and, more than anything, millennials are ‘eager to make a difference’ (Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2014).
Understanding our ‘traits’ has meant that marketing and PR teams know how to start conversations and engage with us, but understanding our ‘values’ is crucial when it comes to influencing us to think or act differently and convert engagement to advocacy.
With the greatest combined purchasing power in history, there are huge benefits for consumer brands to tap into gen Y’s deeper fundamental values, whilst creating more responsible corporations at the same time.
But our values provide not-for-profit organisations with the greatest opportunity of all. As well as an intrinsic, emotional need to ‘make a difference’ we are also looking for something to stand for: a cause and a purpose. Deloitte’s survey found that 63 per cent of us give to charity and 52 per cent have signed petitions – take Stephen’s story which raised over £4 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust as an example.
Top tips to engage and influence gen Y
Stand for something
Gen Y seek to find a shared value when engaging with a brand, to say what type of person they are and what they stand for.
We’re not asking brands to end poverty or create world peace (of course, it would be nice). Be it through CSR programmes, partnerships or simply echoing its brand beliefs through marketing, communications, products and services, we just want to know its culture, vision and way of doing things.
H&M’s Conscious Foundation and subsequent Conscious Collection is a great example of how values have been integrated into the operation, resulting in H&M’s customers buying into a cause.
On average gen Y spend 18 hours with media per day, five hours of which is with user generated media (according to Ipsos Millennial Social Influence Study 2014). Peers are more influential than the professionals. We are the new influencers and boy, do we love to get involved to show we love, hate or support a product or cause!
And it’s not just about engaging in two-way conversation but about inviting people to join in, have their say, shape the organisation and add to its vision.
Great examples of collaborative campaigns which have created positive change…
The craze to pose make-up-free selfies online helped Cancer Research UK raise £8m in six days, funding 10 clinical trials by tapping into the self-obsessed selfie trend and our desire to ‘stand up for something.’ The use of social ‘nominations’ created rapid spread amongst online communities and resulted in the campaign going viral within a matter of days.
Since it began in 2003 in Melbourne, when 30 ‘Mo Bros’ grew moustaches, Movember has grown into a major international campaign. Encouraging men to grow their facial hair during November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, it has inspired over 4 million people to participate. The shared experience, bonding those who took part, generated 1.2 million social media mentions last year alone, doubling its Facebook reach and increasing Tweets by 45%. The campaign has now raised over £60 million for Prostate Cancer UK.
Water is Life’s #firstworldproblems ad
Water is Life took the #firstworldproblems – the tongue-in-cheek tweets of western society’s day-to-day problems – and created a video featuring victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquakes reading out the tweets as a hard-hitting reminder that there are more important problems in the world. Using existing public tweets had the desired effect and the video has now been viewed over 6 million times.
Build trust and respect
Gen Y trust their own and trust people. That’s not to say that every business should follow Starbucks’ lead and scribble its customers’ names on all of its products (spelling them wrongly every time) but a brand should remember the power of its people, its influencers and its social communities.
Let your advocates share your values and messages for you, through their own posts, videos and reviews. Listen to what they say and believe in and, above all, remember to remain true to your values.