Using Emotion to Connect with Millennials

Posted on April 11, 2018 by Alana L

Emotion is powerful. So are millennials. When it comes to reeling in the interest of the largest generational group in the United States, brands have to get creative. Using emotion to inform your marketing isn’t just a smart play, it’s the best way to churn out memorable, entertaining, and purposeful content that connects with the people whose buying potential could mean the very most.

Use the Past to Make the Present More Profitable

The unforgettable (and unforgettably frustrating) sound of AOL searching for a dial-up connection. Pogs. Justin Timberlake’s curly hair. There are certain things that resonate with millennials and smart brands know how to turn nostalgia into content that converts. Buzzfeed lists are probably the most obvious representation, but McDonald’s 1980s throwback ads and Old Spice’s 8-bit grooming game are good examples as well.

Make ‘Em Smile or Make ‘Em Cry

My mother once told me that the best way to ensure someone remembers you is to make them laugh or cry. She should’ve been in marketing. Happiness isn’t just a nice way to start your day, it’s also the main impetus behind social media sharing. When we flick up our newsfeed and see a video of a panda sneezing or a blog about motherhood that makes us spray juice box out our nose, we repost it quickly and often tag a few friends in the process.

Fear and safety concerns sell too. One generator manufacturer switched up their ad tactics, changing focus from dry product specs to real-life testimonials from customers who said the company’s product had saved their lives. The result? A remarkable surge in attention that helped that business double their revenue to $1.2 billion in just two years.

Appeal to Aspiration with Celebs/Influencers

Human beings are naturally driven to want more. Our collective longing for more money, better opportunities, faster cars, warmer climes, bigger muscles, shinier hair, and sparklier bling fuels envy and desire and that, in turn, incites us to invest in the brands that promise to deliver the things we covet. How do we determine which brands fit the bill? In essence, we do what we’re told, even if the commands are somewhat subliminal. We trust information from our social media circles more than we trust messaging directly from brands and that has launched influencer marketing into the stratosphere. The average celebrity makes a whopping $75,000 per sponsored Instagram post but brands can make that back tenfold if their audience likes what they see enough to open their wallets.

Incorporate Social Messaging

No, we’re not talking about sliding into consumers’ DMs, although chatbots are one of the biggest trends in content marketing these days. We’re talking activism. Older generations like to stereotype millennials as apathetic and lazy, but studies show that today’s youth are more politically active and engaged than their predecessors. They’re voting in droves, marching for causes they believe in, and patronizing businesses whose messaging aligns with their belief systems. In fact, some 55% of online consumers say they’re willing to pay for goods and services if the company supplying them has shown a commitment to sound environmental and social practices.

Find a funny or touching way to tell your brand story. Limit nostalgic content to a piece here and there rather than centering your entire strategy around it; we all love reminiscing, but memories are only special when we’re not drowning in them. Partner with influencers to broadcast your message far and wide. Above all, don’t be afraid to get real – authenticity is paramount when you’re using emotion in marketing because consumers can smell opportunism faster than you can say “Pepsi” and “Kendall Jenner”.

Alana L is a full-time freelance writer and strategist. When she’ s not dreaming up content ideas, Alana’s busy studying up on the latest trends in digital marketing, hospitality, travel, and baby wrangling.


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