Does Your Marketing Plan Speak the Language of Millennials?
Small businesses are no different from the entrepreneurs who own and operate them—over time, they mature and change, and while that’s a healthy, natural evolution, signs of aging are inevitable. Case in point: The growing generation gap between younger, leaner small businesses that have embraced mobile and social marketing, and the older, slower-footed SMBs lagging behind the digital media curve.
A new survey conducted by Employers Holdings reveals that 38 percent of small business decision-makers now use smartphones or tablets to help manage their companies. The larger the small business, the more likely it is that the individual in charge depends on smart devices to keep operations running smoothly—63 percent of decision-makers in SMBs with 20 employees or more rely on phones or tablets, compared to 28 percent in companies with one to four staffers.
But at the same time, 56 percent of small businesses in existence for 10 years or fewer rely on social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter for marketing, compared to 28 percent of SMBs who’ve been around a decade or longer. And among companies leveraging mobile business apps like email, navigation, and banking services, 54 percent of companies with four employees or fewer use mobile social media apps, compared with 46 percent among those with 5 to 19 employees, and 24 percent among those with 20 employees or more.
The age of your small business is one thing—the age of your customers is another, and with Millennials (i.e., consumers currently in their mid-teens to mid-thirties) poised to wield greater spending power than any other generation by 2017, your company’s future depends on going social.
Another survey, this one conducted by marketing firm Bazaarvoice in partnership with the Center for Generational Kinetics and Kelton Research, reports 84 percent of Millennials find comfort in constant connectivity and social sharing, and their purchase decisions are significantly more reliant on consumer opinion than other generations. In fact, Millennials are just as likely to trust the experiences of strangers they consider “people like them” as they are friends and family.
In fact, Millennials are just as likely to trust the experiences of strangers they consider “people like them” as they are friends and family.
Small businesses looking to reach Millennials should first turn to Facebook—80 percent of the demographic actively use Facebook services, followed by YouTube (49 percent), Twitter (28 percent), and Google+ (25 percent). Millennials also are much more likely to share both positive and negative experiences with brands via social channels (42 percent and 32 percent, respectively), in lieu of emailing friends or calling up the company—moreover, Millennials are more than three times as likely as baby boomers to access social channels when looking for opinions on which products or services to purchase.
Millennials also tend to favor companies that include customer feedback on their websites, with 66 percent calling them “honest” and another 53 percent dubbing them “credible.” Perhaps most significant, 64 percent of Millennials feel companies should offer more ways to share their opinions via digital channels—and they vow to participate in the dialogue.
Small businesses hoping to interact with the Millennial demographic have little choice but to open up the lines of social media interaction—thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, even the oldest company can be young at heart.
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