Using Influencers to Reach Millennials


Millennials, roughly defined as people born between 1980 and 2000, are different from the generations that came before them. For one thing, many millennials are digital natives, meaning they not only grew up around technology, they are completely comfortable using it and seem to have an innate ability to pick it up quickly.

Another thing that sets millennials apart from other age groups is the fact that they are considerably more skeptical of traditional advertising and marketing techniques. One study, from the McCarthy Group, revealed that 84 percent of millennials were distrustful of advertising. What and whom millennials did trust included their friends, news reports, and people they knew through social media.


Millennials’ willingness to put their trust in other users on social media, such as social media influencers, is one of the reasons why influencer marketing has had so much success in the past few years. Here’s how your company can use influencers to connect with a millennial audience.

What Exactly Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is the use of influential people, usually on social media, to persuade or convince consumers to take a certain action. A company can use influencers to reach its core audience or demographic or to connect with a new audience.

Although it was once assumed that a person needed to have a substantial following on social media to be an effective influencer, the definition has changed somewhat. Since it  is possible to buy fake or spam followers, it’s more important to evaluate the connection an influencer has with his or her audience, rather than the size of that audience, when determining influence.

For example, an influencer who has a following of 10,000 might have more reach than an influencer with a following of 1 million. If those 10,000 people are actively engaging by liking or commenting on the person’s posts and by clicking any links he or she shares, the effect that influencer’s posts will have is likely to be greater than posts by the influencer with the larger following.

Why Influencer Marketing is a Great Way to Connect with Millennials

Influencer marketing can help your company reach millennials for a few reasons. For one, influencer marketing primarily takes place on social media and millennials are more likely than any other age group or generation to use social platforms. According to the Pew Research Center, 86 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 had an account on at least one social media site as of 2016.


Millennials aren’t just using social media; they also feel that it makes up a significant part of their life. In one study, 37 percent of millennials said that they felt they were missing out if they weren’t on social media daily. More than half of millennials also liked brands on social media, considerably more than people in other generational groups.

There’s also the issue of trust. While trust in traditional ads is lower than it has been, nearly two thirds of people trust consumer opinions they see online and brand sponsorships, according to Nielsen. Millennials are more likely to trust what an influencer says than the message found in a traditional commercial or banner ad.

What Should You Look for in Influencers?

Since establishing and maintaining trust is so important when reaching millennials through influencer marketing, it’s critical that you work with the right influencers. There are a few things to look for when choosing an influencer to partner with.

One is the type of audience the influencer has.  Would they find what your company is offering interesting or useful? For example, if you’re a B2B company, it would make sense to find an influencer who connects with a B2B audience, rather than typical consumers.

You also want to look at how an influencer connects with his or her audience. Do people regularly comment or share their posts? Does the influencer often respond to people’s comments? Or do the posts typically get very few comments or likes? The more engagement an influencer has, the more likely it is that the message will reach the intended audience.

Another thing to consider is the influencer’s typical message or content. If your company offers a technology solution, it will seem strange or inauthentic if a fashion or beauty influencer creates and shares a post for you.

Working with the right influencer can help you reach a new audience of millennials or give your company a boost of clout and social standing among an existing audience. As you use influencer marketing, measuring the results produced by each post or campaign can allow you see if you chose the right influencer, and if you’re getting what you hoped for from this type of marketing.



Tips for Marketing to Millennials

When you hear the word “millennial,” what comes to mind? Often, the stereotype is a twenty something, somewhat self-obsessed person from a middle class background. But millennials are much more than that.

For one thing, there are about 80 million of them in US, according to research from Accenture. For another, not all of them are in their twenties. Since marketers typically classify anyone born between 1980 and 2000 as a millennial, plenty of them are in their thirties while a good number are still teenagers.


Whether they are 34, 26, or 16, millennials have an immense buying power. Some reports estimate than they collectively spend more than $1 trillion a year. Accenture offers a more conservative figure, estimating that millennials spend around $600 billion annually in the US.

When targeting millennials, there are a few key things marketers need to do.

Get Personal

Admittedly, people of all ages like the personal touch when it comes to being marketed to. But getting personal tends to matter the most to millennials.  According to a 2015 survey, conducted by Elite Daily, just one percent of them admits to be influenced by traditional advertising. They skip commercials, use ad-blocking software or generally ignore ads.

Instead of being advertised to, millennials are looking to be engaged with. They prefer it if brands act like their friends, providing real, useful advice and guidance, rather than simply presenting a product to them.

Influencers, whether they are celebrities or bloggers, can be an effective tool for marketers who want to reach millennials. According to the Elite Daily survey, a third of millennials are likely to check out a blog about a product before they buy. More than 40 percent are looking for something that is authentic and something that they can trust.

Embrace Their Diversity


The common stereotype of millennials — the 26-year-old, college-educated, middle class white person — focuses on just one small subset of the generation. Although many millennials have gone to college and some have earned masters degrees or doctorates, a fair number aren’t college educated. Some are still in high school. They also come from a variety of backgrounds and many speak multiple languages or do not speak English as their first language.

Some millennials have fully embraced adulthood. They own their homes, their cars and have kids of their own. Other might still live with mom and dad or in roommate situations and have a less stable grip on their finances. Some have decided to live a completely unconventional life, plan on never getting married and don’t anticipate owning property any time soon.

That means that one single message or marketing approach won’t work for this demographic. If you focus on them as a group of post-adolescents who rely on their parents, you’re ignoring the millennials who have begun living adult lives and who might resent being grouped with those who haven’t started adulthood yet. If you focus on them as people who are getting married and starting families, you turn off those who don’t want to live that lifestyle or who aren’t at that stage yet.

It’s more helpful to focus on who your millennial customer is, not where he or she is meant to be in life. For example, you  might decide to target millennials who are into a certain style of music or who believe in supporting a particular social cause. You can create different campaigns to target different social sets of millennials, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach based on perceived cultural norms.

Use Social and Digital Methods Wisely

Many millennials are digital natives, meaning they can’t remember a time before the Internet. Some might be young enough that they can’t remember a world without social media. It’s great to jump on the social media bandwagon and create accounts for your company with the hip, millennial-focused networks, such as Instagram and Snapchat.


But, millennials are going to see through that. You can’t just create social accounts and expect them to come to you.  You need to give them a reason to follow your brand. If your business is one that isn’t even on millennials’ radar or if yours is a company that they associate with the “olds,” they aren’t going to follow your accounts.

Use social media to connect with and engage with potential customers. You can use Snapchat, for example, to show people how to use your products or show people using your products in creative, unexpected ways. The thing to remember when using social media is to be subtle. Don’t push your product or service on millennials. Instead, try to be a helpful guide to them and they’ll be more likely to become loyal customers to you.

The secret to marketing to millennials is figuring out what they want. And really, that same trick holds true when marketing to people of any generation or age group. Baby Boomers and Generation X might not be crying out for authentic, personal stories. But once you start incorporating that into your marketing, don’t be surprised if you find that it helps you reach customers of all ages.