Aimee Millwood
Director of Content at Yotpo
February 16th, 2015

“The future of content marketing lies with Millennials.” – Tech Radar


Table Of Contents

The future of content marketing doesn’t just lie with Millennials, but relies on them. Unfortunately, Millennials’ relationship with content is proving to be complicated for marketers to crack. Although Millennials are huge media consumers — reportedly spending up to 18 hours a day with a variety of content channels — they claim content doesn’t influence them. In fact, 45% of Millennials say they aren’t interested or compelled by content from marketers, according to a study by Tumblr, Yahoo, Razorfish, and DigitasLBi.

Is content marketing a failed strategy for Millennials?

The truth is, Millennials do react to content marketing, yet the content marketing strategies that worked for previous generations won’t necessarily see success with them. This generation – the largest so far – has grown up in the age of the internet, raised on cell phones, Facebook, email, and Google and, as a result, they have a proficiency in the digital language many marketers don’t have. Just as a native speaker of a language picks up on slight nuances that even a fluent speaker wouldn’t know, this generation responds to slight cues that other older generations often can’t grasp.

The myth that Millennials aren’t affected by content is off base. Millennials are sharing, liking, chatting, and buying – so content does affect them. They simply aren’t affected by traditional forms of content and have developed acute needs for marketing and advertising. Growing up surrounded by digital content, they are very adept at making snap decisions to determine which content is worth their while and tuning out all content that doesn’t meet their needs. They are turned off by traditional forms of advertising and wary of brand-sponsored marketing. They want to get involved and have a say in how they connect with products and services. They are less likely to respond to hard advertising and more likely to be drawn to relationships with companies. In short, Millennials need a different type of content marketing.

The #selfie generation wants #selfie content marketing

Millennials are still consuming as much content as ever, but they trust and listen to less and less. What they are listening to is their peers. Out of all their time spent consuming media, about 30% of it is spent with user-generated content (UGC). This is about the same as traditional media forms like print, radio, and television). This means that UGC, a content form that is relatively new to the internet, takes up as much of their time as the traditional giants. And, it’s not just taking up their time – it’s making impressions.

Millennials trust and remember UGC more than every other type of media. In fact, they trust information they receive through UGC 50% more than information from other media sources. And good news for eCommerce – harnessing UGC in your user content marketing pays off with this crowd. More than 50% of Millennials consult UGC before making big purchases, and UGC is 20% more influential on their purchase decisions than other types of media.

Consider the Millennial experience: they’ve grown up using the internet as a resource to gain information, research decisions, and connect with loved ones and strangers. In the process, brands have attempted to flood them with content advertising and marketing, but this ultimately detracts from their online goals. Millennials have learned to ignore and tune out irrelevant content in order to get more quickly to the content they want. In the process, they’ve learned to take social proof that was previously applied in live interactions to the internet. They trust their peers and friends online as they would in person – looking to them for direction and advice in both life issues and purchasing decisions. User-generated content isn’t necessarily more effective with Millennials because they actively seek it out as a trusted source – if anything, it simply rises above all the other noise to deliver a more trusted message that has larger chance of sinking in.

In past generations, you may be flooded with advertisements for 50 hair conditioners. The advertisements put the brand in your head so you had more awareness of them and signaled which brand you should trust when you’re walking down the drugstore aisle looking for a new conditioner, but ultimately, if a friend tells you she uses a certain brand, you’re much more likely to bypass all the advertising signals and go straight to the brand that you have firsthand knowledge of. Today, a similar phenomenon is at work on the internet. Brand messaging can have impact, but word-of-mouth content marketing is significantly more effective.

So how do you key in to the Millennial mindset to leverage UGC in marketing?

Tips for using UGC in Millennial marketing

Use peer reviews and testimonials. Digital babies buy into branding and marketing much less than other generations. Millennials grew up surrounded by media and are much less influenced by traditional marketing messages. In contrast, they like to hear advice from peers, so display peer reviews and testimonials in place of traditional advertisements.

Don’t abuse their user content or risk losing their trust. Millennials are much more wary of giving out their information and much less trusting when it comes to digital privacy.  These generations started trends like whitewalling Facebook, and have shown that they want to be in control and autonomous when it comes to their online life. So, ask for as little information from them as possible and display trust badges so they know their purchasing information will not be shared. Don’t abuse their user content without first earning their trust.

Invite them to participate and let them know their input matters. To get through to them, it’s vital to use language that appeals to their power as mature individuals. American Eagle harnessed this wonderfully with their Aero Now campaign inviting user submissions whose banner proclaimed, “You’ve changed, so have we.” This message communicated to young generations they realized they were growing up and that the brand wanted to grow with them so they wanted their input.

There’s no excuse for not harnessing the power of social media! These generations are pros on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, so make sure you are using these platforms to give them valuable content that invites a conversation. The younger generation wants their opinion to matter, so don’t simply send out messages on social media and expect a response. Ask what they want and then respond in campaigns catered to them. Additionally, don’t forget the power of social sharing and referrals. Social referrals are the fastest-growing source of traffic for eCommerce stores, and inviting shoppers to share UGC online can help you leverage organic social referrals. Reviews are one of the most commonly used forms of UGC on social for Millennials. According to Kissmetrics, over half of all Millennials use social to share product and brand recommendations, and 41% use social as their only way of sharing recommendations.


The changing tides of marketing are bringing many new trends – brands as publishers, content as king, and advertising as storytelling. But among all the trends and buzzwords, there is one lesson that is here to stay: the future generations will not simply consume content. They want to be part of the conversation. They want to be creators. Therefore, learning how to leverage UGC in marketing is one of the most powerful ways to amplify any campaign. User content marketing is marketing for the people, by the people. It’s a transparent, connected way to let your audience speak.

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