The BuzzFeed Approach: Three tried-and-tested techniques for content marketing to millennials | M&M Global

The BuzzFeed Approach: Three tried-and-tested techniques for content marketing to millennials

Marcus Stoll, head of marketing EMEA at NewsCred, offers a guide to creating content for a millennial audience.

Marcus Stoll

Millennials identify more with content than they do with advertising. In a survey conducted by Voxburner, 54% of British millennials revealed they want to be able to interact with content delivered by brands.

Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by NewsCred, 62% say they feel a direct correlation between content marketing and brand loyalty. Despite these being clear incentives for marketing directly to millennials, not all businesses are successfully capturing their attention. According NewsCred’s survey of over 500 US millennials, 45% say that most brand content is not compelling enough to share, and interestingly we’re seeing similar results in the UK and Europe.

To properly identify with – and benefit from – the social shares and marketing strength that a millennial crowd can provide, brands should look to those currently thriving in this space.

BuzzFeed for instance, is one of the largest and most successful content portals in the world, attracting over 17.5 million unique users a month in the UK alone. Globally, the website claims that 75% of traffic comes from social media, which demonstrates exactly how significant a traffic driver social media can be.

Taking a BuzzFeed approach to your content to engage millennials doesn’t necessarily mean posting cat pictures and internet memes, but rather adopting some of their shrewd content practices, such as…

#1 – Speaking to the individual

Millennials value their individuality, but as a group they are an issues-driven bunch. Content that deals with social issues, useful or interesting information and has an emotional hook, resonates well with this age bracket.

Ideally, you want millennials to personally identify with what you’re saying because it builds a bond with your brand and increases the likelihood that they’ll share your content.

According to NewsCred’s research, almost 50% of millennials are reading the content that brands are pushing out. The issue, then, is that they aren’t identifying with the content enough for it to be generating shares.

Often this is because the topics are too broad; for example, writing about life as a twentysomething in the UK is not going to be niche enough. Whereas life as a twentysomething in Manchester versus London is more likely to attract like minds and drive that much needed social shares.

Uber is a fantastic example of this approach done well, giving each city its own content hub that provides localised information and news that resonates with customers.

#2 – Informing and providing a service

Content for content’s sake is not going to cut it. Likewise, content that is too inwardly focused (talking about products for example) is also not going to attract many readers. However, by providing useful and informative insights on your topic of choice, not only will your audience find value in your content, but they’ll be more inclined to pass it on, too.

According to Voxburner, 65% of British millennials respond positively to content that is useful to them, echoing our findings which showed that 64% of US millennials respond positively showing this to be a global, rather than national trend.

Career advice, tips, or how-to guides all provide value to the reader and thus create a strong bond between reader and brand. Barclays LifeSkills YouTube channel is a good recent example of this.

Being the brand that provides not just interesting tidbits, but genuinely valuable guidance is a strong content approach: offer millennials information they need, where they want it, and they’ll reward you for it with social shares and brand loyalty.

#3 – Provoking an emotional response

Research also reveals that British millennials say they engage with content that makes them either laugh, is thought provoking or reflects issues they believe in.

Video is a popular source for emotive, shareable content, and according to Voxburner, 71% of British millennials said that video is their favourite kind of content. An excellent example of this from recent years is this video released by Google which tells the story of an adopted orphan who found his family after 20 years using Google Earth.

It may sound obvious, but all too often the emotional connection is overlooked. By provoking an emotional response, be it laughter, joy, sorrow or wonder, your readers will remember you. Moreover, they’ll be more inclined to share your content with the hopes of generating similar responses in their friends, family and work colleagues.

A similar number of millennials in our research (70%) say that their main reason for sharing content is it makes them laugh, once again underlining the point that emotions drive user action. Businesses will often tell sales teams that decisions are made based on emotion; it’s time to apply that same logic to your content.

The key is to be consistent – commit to a tone such as happiness, like Coca-Cola, or joy, like Cadbury.

If readers are continually entertained or emotionally enriched each time they read your content, they’ll begin to associate that emotion with your brand. Current events are a good source of inspiration here, but to succeed you should be quick to react. Just ensure you’re being genuine at all times. If your tone or message seems disingenuous, millennials will know – they can sniff out a fraud a mile away.

It’s a lot to remember, and it isn’t easy to do. But ultimately there are three questions you should be asking yourself with each piece of content you create. Would I share this? Is it human? Is it relevant?

If the answer to each of these questions is ‘yes’, then you are on the right path.

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