When a 16- year-old business tycoon reaches out to you on Twitter, you pay attention. I was instantly impressed with Connor Blakley, both when I chatted with him on the phone and when I recently met him in person.
At age 16, Connor Blakley is an experienced entrepreneur, speaker, and brand/social media strategist. Connor is now the co-founder and CEO of ARCB. ARCB generates youth advisory boards to help brands better connect to the younger generations. I sat down with Connor and asked him how businesses and brands can build lifelong brand-loyal fans with the younger generations, and this is what he shared:
1) Is creating life long brand loyal consumers as hard as everybody says?
Not at all, getting young people to be lifelong brand loyal consumers is often misconstrued as a complicated process. Contrary to popular opinion, the younger generations are some of the most brand loyal consumers in the world and retaining them is a lot simpler than you think.
2) What are the top three traits brands need in their social media presence?
Young people pick their brands on a different set of criteria than their parents. Only 18% of young people say an ad has ever led them to make a purchase, while nearly 75% of consumers say they use social media in the purchasing process. With access to blogs, social media, and instant communication that was unavailable to previous generations the younger consumers are making smarter purchasing decisions than ever before. These traits below are pivotal for the success of your brand on these social platforms.
Wouldn't it be easier to sell your product or service to a friend rather than a stranger? Young people want to be talked with and not at. The average young person sees over 150,000 marketing messages before they hit the age of 15. It is important for brands to invest time into understanding what their consumer is interested in. This not only allows brands to create authentic relationships, but it also allows them to listen to consumer. Listening allows brands to reverse engineer what they are saying to generate a piece of content and product that is more appealing to the consumer.
Social media is just an accelerator for human engagement and creating authentic relationships. You can have all of the strategies, people, and software in place but it does not matter if you lose sight of the main purpose, which is to create authentic relationships and communities to give value.
When creating relationships, being genuine and authentic is key. Which means sacrificing outbound marketing tactics. Think about it, these outbound marketing campaigns are the least engaging and impersonal forms of communication. Young people do not want to be talked at with logos, offers, radio spots, or magazine ads. They want to be talked with, or have value brought to them.
With authenticity comes trust.
Young people's BS meters are really good.
Heed these wise words from my friend Jared Kleinert:
"One of the best ways to market to the younger generations is to make sure you don't sell bullsh*t."
This is valuable insight. One of the best ways to do this is to curate content to educate the consumer, but also to establish your brand as the go-to informational resource.
C) Be Human
Believe it or not, young people think humans are really cool. Every brand has a unique personality. Run your social media platforms as if an imaginary person who resembles your brand is running it.
The worst thing your brand can be perceived as is unauthentic or fake. If you deviate from your brand identity and try to be something you're not, the backfire may be tremendous. You can avoid this by realizing at the core of human relationships is connection. Whether you're on a date, going out with friends, or meeting someone new find something is common is all that is needed to spark interest. So if we stop looking at humans as just a potential sale, and more as a potential "Friend," every brand can become more human.
People connect most with realness. Social media allows us to connect easier and more often than ever before, making it the perfect place to start.
Focus on being human, and customer loyalty will follow.
3) Is it important to incorporate employees into your social media presence?
YES, Young people see that human side of the brands they follow. With young people increasingly placing a value on company culture, values, and flexibility, them getting to know you personally is crucial. So often. all they get to see on the outside is the business aspect and not so much the people behind the business.
Have employees get their phones out! Tweet some selfies, post some videos from inside the offices, and make a company snapchat!
4) Is it worth it for your brand to experiment with new mobile apps?
YES. Looking at attention graphs is one of the most important pieces to creating brand loyal consumers. Anywhere your target consumer is spending the majority of their time is somewhere you should be. Think of it as just another platform you can bring value and connect with your consumers on. It is better to try and experiment with new platforms than to say "screw that" and be left behind. As a bonus, if you're one of the first brands on a platform you have the advantage of being viewed as cool and up to date!
Thanks for sharing, Connor! Your insights are very valuable to us old business owners and entrepreneurs!