The Key to Reaching Millennials

April 20, 2015 Kevin DeShazo Social Media Strategy Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

876,000. Do a Google search for “How to reach Millennials” and that’s the amount of results you get. Spend any time on social media, at conferences (sports and otherwise) or in marketing meetings and that topic is guaranteed to come up. I’ve been lucky enough to address this topic on panels at a few conferences. It is the question of the year right now and everybody is searching for answers.

The  problem is that asking how we “reach” Millennials is the wrong question. To reach an audience isn’t difficult. You’ve chased Millennials from Facebook to YouTube to Twitter to Instagram to Vine to Snapchat to _______. You are reaching them but you aren’t engaging with them (as a result, they aren’t engaging with you). We put so much effort on this idea of “reach” that we miss out on the fact that Millennials, like any other generation, are people. People who want to be heard, to be interacted with, to be cared about, to belong. They don’t want to be sold to (who does?), they want to be a part of what’s happening.

100,000 people saw your Facebook post. Your tweet got 5000 impressions. One snap on Snapchat’s Coachella story received 40 million views. What do these numbers mean? These messages reached people but how did it make the audience feel? What did it make them do? What was their next action after seeing your content? Reach isn’t enough.

I think their are two questions we have to ask when trying to impact Millennials (or any other audience): what and why?

What is our story? 

Why should people care?

Every brand has a story to tell. That’s the cliché statement of 2015 but it is also reality. If you don’t know what story you are telling, the amount of people who see your content is useless. You end up chasing audiences from platform to platform, without stopping long enough to realize that if they aren’t engaging with (and you with them) on one platform, switching to a new platform won’t fix the problem. Fix the story, fix the content.

When we don’t know what story to tell we resort to gimmicks (we just call it “innovation” to feel better). We throw out funny memes or GIFs and say things like, “basketball is bae” or “uniforms on fleek.” We insert ourselves into conversations that aren’t relevant to our brand. The win here is that you get there attention (maybe). That’s just half the battle, though. Once you have their attention, you have to keep it. You have to move beyond gimmicks to creating great content day after day. We’ll call this the Jimmy Fallon principle. Every night, Jimmy Fallon shows up. He gets your attention and then he keeps it. He knows who he is, what he’s about, and why it matters to you. You keep coming back because you know he’s going to keep bringing great material.

If you don’t bring great content on a consistent basis, you’ll lose Millennials (and, again, every other group). Gimmicks wear off. Great stories last. An aside: this isn’t just about social/digital media. This is about every interaction people have with your team/organization. From ticket sales to food vendors, merchandise to ushers. Everyone has to know the story, everyone has to be bought in.

Story drives content and messaging. Once you’ve established your story, you have a foundation for your content. You have something to come back to for every tweet, post, picture, video, game recap. You have something worth sharing, something worth caring about, something worth engaging with. You have a story that other people want to be a part of, a story that they want to talk about. You have something that doesn’t require gimmicks.

At their core, Millennials are not that different from other groups. They want a story to be a part of. A story that matters. Platforms will come and go but great content will always resonate. Identify your story, know why people should care about it, and use that to create content that resonates.


Fieldhouse Media is an award-winning firm dedicated to helping athletics departments get the most out of their social media efforts, from educating student-athletes and staff to providing an overall strategy. To find out more about us or to join the more than 70 schools utilizing our services for their athletics department, contact us today.

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