Engaging Millennials on Social Media

Millennials is a target group that can’t be ignored. The best way to communicate with millennials is through social media....

14 Feb 2018 6489 Views

Written by Rebecka Hojgård Hansen

When I asked my mother what she would bring to a deserted island, her answer was “my family of course”. When she asked me back, she was kind of humiliated when the answer was “my iPhone”. I’m sure that I’m not the only millennial with this answer, since we’re practically born with an iPhone in the right hand and an iPad in the left hand.

There’s no doubt that millennials is a target group that’s interesting to marketers due to their buying power (Sagin, 2017). Marketers understand that one of the best ways to communicate with millennials is through digital marketing (Okazaki et al, 2007). The problem they’re facing is HOW to get their attention and get them engaged? The old push advertising approach is not as effective anymore. Instead, companies must use a pull advertising approach and create a relationship with the millennials (Smith, 2012). Now you must think, well how are marketers supposed to get their attention and get them engaged?! This blogpost will tell you all about it!

Social Media
During the last couple of years, the Web has gone through many changes. The days of Web 1.0 with its one-way and passive communications are over. Instead, we’ve welcomed Web 2.0
with its two-way and interactive communications which often refers to platforms like social media (Williams et al, 2012). We all know why regular people use social media, and let me tell you, there are reasons to why marketers should use them as well. The possibility to engage consumers is the most important reason since it includes the ability for them to get involved, interact and influence a brand (Safko & Brake, 2009). The ways for marketers to engage consumers are many. One example is to create social media content that is relevant for them. Another example is to create social media content that is sharable or modifiable for the consumers among their friends (Parent et al, 2011).

The Web changes have had effects on marketing practices and especially on consumers. Thanks to Web 2.0, consumers have become more informed, networked and empowered, which have resulted in that they can affect brands more than before (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004). Today, the empowered consumers have the power and “ownership” of the brands. This means that marketers need to talk “with” and not “at” the consumers, which is facilitated by the new interactive dialogues on for example social media platforms (Serazio, 2015).

Millennials are born between the years of 1981-2000 (Steadman, 2008). What these people have in common is that they were born into a digital world with technological devices always being a part of their life. That’s why they’re often called “digital natives” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008).

Millennials are obsessed with social media. In fact, U.S millennials spend over three hours a day engaging in social networking (Statista, 2014). Because of millennials heavy usage of social media, digital marketing is one of the best ways for marketers to communicate with them (Okazaki et al, 2007). The important thing for marketers to remember is that it needs to be done in the right way (Smith, 2012). If marketing activities are interpreted as negative, consumers can get a negative image of the brand as well (Truong & Simmons, 2010).

Below I have listed some important factors that marketers should have in mind when trying to get the millennials’ attention and get them engaged on social media;

  1. Permission
    As most likely every other consumer on this planet, millennials hate advertisement that’s irrelevant or unwanted for them. Therefore, permission is a crucial factor when connecting with millennials on social media (McCasland, 2005).
  2. Involvement
    It’s time for marketers to let the millennials in! Marketers need to open up and allow millennials to get deeper involved and engaged with the brand. It’s important for marketers to embrace the opportunities that social media have given them and make sure that the millennials are working for the brand and not against it (Serazio, 2015).
  3. Personalization
    The days of pushing out advertising to a big target group are over, at least when it comes to millennials. Marketers need to send millennials personalized messages or offer interactive advertising where consumers can for example be a part of the promotion (Smith, 2012).


So how can marketers engage millennials?
We’ve come a long way in figuring out how marketers can get the millennials’ attention and engage them on social media. It’s crucial that marketers have permission from the millennials and that the digital marketing activities are involving and personalized. With this in mind, there’s one marketing activity that seems very suitable; Snapcodes.

Snapchat was created in 2011 and as of today, they have 178 million daily active users. In case you haven’t been hiding in a cave for the last couple of years, you will know that Snapchat is an app that allows users to send videos or photos (Statista, 2017). When users send their videos or photos, it’s possible to add a piece of text, emojiis or geo-filters on it (Grieve, 2017). It’s safe to say that a majority of Snapchat’s users are millennials since they account for more than seven in 10 Snapchat users (eMarketer, 2015).

In 2015, Snapchat updated their app with the possibility to use Quick response codes (QR-codes) and decided to name their own QR-codes for Snapcodes (Techcrunch, 2017). A QR-code is a barcode that links to a specific URL (Cunningham & Dull, 2011). Because of that, they can be scanned through almost every smartphone (Ashford, 2010). QR-codes on products can be used to market brands, attract new customers and build relationships with existing ones (Walsh, 2009).

A Fanta Snapcode
Image 1; A Fanta Snapcode (Fanta, 2017).

One company that has decided to use the benefits of QR-codes is Fanta. This autumn, Fanta launched a Halloween campaign on 11 European markets to promote one of their new flavours. In the campaign, Fanta created a “Halloween can” and a personalized “Halloween Snapchat filter”. By scanning the Snapcode on the can, the consumers could lock up different Fanta-filters with Halloween-motives (Frick, 2017).

Fanta’s Halloween Snapcode
Image 2; Fanta’s Halloween Snapcode (Youtube, 2017).

Image 3; Fanta’s Halloween cans (Trending packaging, 2017).

The closer to Halloween it got, the more scary filters were made available (Frick, 2017).

Fanta’s Halloween cansImage 4; Fanta’s Halloween Snapchat filters (Frick, 2017).

Hellqvist (2017 cited in Frick, 2017) is a brand manager at Fanta and explains that Fanta had a very clear strategy when developing this campaign. Since a big part of their target group use social media and particularly Snapchat, the campaign ran there. One part of Fanta’s strategy was that by activating and engaging people, more of them would notice the new flavour. Another part of Fanta’s strategy was to entertain people and let them socialize with Fanta on social media, but on their own terms. As clearly seen, Fanta had both permission, involvement and personalization in mind when creating this campaign! Absolutely brilliant if you ask me!

Marketers can either love or hate millennials. Regardless, they can’t afford to ignore them (Sagin, 2017). Establishing a relationship with millennials is crucial both in the short run and in the long run. The reason for it is that if a brand is able to create and maintain a relationship with millennials, it will result in consumer loyalty (McCasland, 2005). Snapcodes can be a brilliant way to get the millennials’ attention, engagement and hopefully create a relationship with them, don’t you think?




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* Trending packaging (2017). Coca-Cola launches new Halloween packaging from Fanta. Available online: http://www.trendingpackaging.com/2554-2/ [Accessed 17 November 2017].

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* Youtube (2017). Take over Halloween met Fanta. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9GgEZJPlJ0 [Accessed 17 November 2017].

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Students from the International Marketing and Brand Management program at Lund University are the contributing authors for the BrandBase blog.