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Instagram: Marketing to Millennials in the Digital Age

Sara Wenner

In December of last year, Instagram reported that they have 300 million active users. The Pew Institute reported that 53% of people aged 18-29, which is the majority of the millennial generation, use Instagram. As a millennial myself, I am an active user both for personal and professional purposes. What I like most about it is the simplicity of design, the diverse range of filters and how easy it is to post from my phone.

I’ll admit I was hesitant to sign up at first because I thought it was just another Facebook alternative. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot and never looked back. Over the past few years Instagram has really grown and taken on a life of its own, and I nearly always suggest that my clients sign up or ramp up their strategy. If your business caters to the millennial generation and you don’t use Instagram, you’re seriously limiting your social media success.

Here are some key elements millennials look for before we hit the follow button.

Be Real With Us

Companies that succeed in social media are those that know their audience and speak to them on their level and in their language. Millennials respond best to inbound marketing strategies because we know that if our business is important to a company they will have to speak to us with a human voice. When we write about a negative experience with your product, we demand a genuine response and the problem resolved quickly. We may be price-focused, but if your business’ social profiles are on point we will very likely develop a level of brand loyalty.

Got Deals?

Millennials tend to be thrifty shoppers. Many of us are still living at home with our parents; we prefer streaming sites like Netflix to cable, and while most of us are probably drowning in student loan debt, can you really blame us for wanting to save a little money?

A good way to market to millennial is to give them exclusive deals on Instagram. You’ll often see apparel brands do this, but any business can utilize this maneuver. If you want buzz around your brand, especially on this platform, you’re going to need to offer an exclusive code to unlock the deal. Don’t forget to ask your followers to post a picture of what they bought and include a unique hashtag.

Stick To Your Editorial Calendar – We Notice!

Despite what many people may tell you, posting every day is not the be all and end all of Instagram success. The key is to be consistent, but if daily posting doesn’t fit your game plan don’t force it. When it comes to millennials, as is the case with most consumers, success comes with multiple exposures to your message. Instagram hiatuses are simply unacceptable for this market. They will see you as an inactive page, and that takes away from your ultimate goal: increasing reach and engagement for your brand.

As a social media manager for small businesses, I typically recommend a posting strategy of every other day, if possible. To be really effective with marketing on Instagram a company should plan on a minimum of three posts per week.


Follow With Caution

A brand on Instagram that follows thousands but only has a hundred or so followers runs the risk of appearing to be a spam account or just desperate for traffic. If this is your current situation you may want to do some spring-cleaning. You want your account to be seen as credible and your followers are subscribed for the right reasons. Remember, you don’t need to follow every account that follows you. Quality over quantity trumps all in the world of business on Instagram.

#Hashtag Heaven

Instagram is all about hashtags; it’s how users find the content they want. But there is particular etiquette to using hashtags on Instagram. They are absolutely never included in your actual post because that’s considered spamming. Hashtags are only placed in the comment section of your posts. The other way to effectively use hashtags is to create a new and totally unique tag that will only apply to you and your business. Use your hashtag whenever commenting on other people’s posts, and you will be well on your way to greater exposure.

User Generated – User Friendly

Instagram is not nearly as business-friendly as most of the other social sites. People are not as likely to follow businesses as they are individuals who are connected to businesses. That is why your posts need to be more fun and entertaining than promotional. Since Instagram is the ultimate “selfie” site, your job as a business owner is to encourage your followers to create videos, photos and other visuals that show the users’ experiences using your product. The reward for posting can be a deal or discount, or you could run a contest and only reward the best entries.

One Last Word: About Content

Don’t stress out about posting genius-quality content on Instagram, particularly when targeting millennials. The catchwords here are fun, entertaining and sharable posts. The recent controversy about #TheDress is a good example of how innocuous, silly content can go viral. Nobody ever said viral content had to be groundbreaking – especially on Instagram!

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Sara Wenner is a certified Social Media Manager and Inbound Marketing Specialist. She is a Partner at Content+Creativity, a company specializing in integrating social media with offline marketing. Follow her on Twitter @CCSocMediaMgmt or on Instagram at ContentandCreativity.
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Gracious Store
Interesting, it is good to hear from the horse's mouth what they the Millennial want businesses to relate to them
Well, you are right but will Instagram-marketing be applicable for every kind of business..For example: A Web Development Organization??
Sara Wenner
Hemanth Malli
No. Instagram is not as appropriate for a B2B company. I would focus on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ for those types of businesses. For now, anyway, Instagram is a consumer orientated social media site.

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