Millennials now make up the largest segment of the population, meaning they're a big target for B2C companies. If you're looking for ways to engage this younger demographic, take some tips from Kestrel Linder, CEO of GiveCampus, a social fundraising platform backed by Y Combinator and used by more than 200 schools including UNC Chapel Hill, Villanova and Davidson College. Within the last year, more than half of the 100,000 people who have made a donation to a school through GiveCampus have been younger than 40. Here's what he says you need to remember if you want to attract Millennial customers.

1. Whatever you do, it must be online.

It's where people in their 20s and 30s hang out, so whether you're attracting, recruiting, converting or retaining them, it must be done digitally. And because Millennials are accustomed to going online, clicking around and getting whatever they want, when they want it, it's a fiercely competitive environment for brands.

2. Make it social.

Earlier this year Facebook reported its users are spending an average of 50 minutes a day on its Facebook, Instagram and Messengers platforms. And when friends and followers can see that others in their circles are buying or participating in something it creates social proof and even "fear of missing out."

"If my college asks me for money to fund an important scholarship I might be interested. But if a friend of mine or former classmate or fraternity brother of mine asks me to give money to that same scholarship, and if I can see that they've already done so, and I can see that 400 other people have already done so, including maybe a couple other people that I know, that's powerful," he says.

3. Meet them on mobile devices.

Every company that wants the attention of consumers should have some way to engage them on a mobile device. At the very least it means having a website optimized for smaller screens. This is sound advice considering most people have a smartphone within arm's reach nearly every waking moment.

4. Let them generate, curate and influence your content.

The human attention span has shrunk to shamefully low levels. At the same time, Millennials want to have a voice and are interested in people's stories, not traditional brand positioning. How can you give your customers opportunities to describe how your product or service has helped them? "We routinely see at GiveCampus a greater engagement with content that's more personal and that can take a lot of different forms," he says. "It can be an individual whose personal story is incorporated into a video that is produced entirely by the school. On the other end of the spectrum it could be a selfie-video that somebody creates on their own, telling their own story. Or, it could be a post from a friend of yours on Facebook."

5. Be a little edgy.

"You can't do the same things you've always done and expect a different result. Going online isn't enough to effectively engage Millennials if your strategy and if your content are the same as what they used to be...[You need] a story with content and messaging that's going to capture and hold the attention of a young person on the internet."

6. Create experiences that are simple, delightful and tailored.

Transactions are boring, dry, tedious and fleeting. They don't establish a lasting connection. In contrast, an experience can be fun, social, memorable and repeatable. Platforms like iTunes and Amazon provide it by taking the friction out of a transaction through one-click buying. "If you give a donor or a customer an experience that they enjoy, the next time you invite them to buy something from you or donate to you, it will trigger a fond memory and it will significantly increase your chances of retention," he says. "It's a scientific fact that if you make it easier for people to do what you want them to do, they're going to do more of it."

Published on: Dec 5, 2016
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