Businesses are seeing an increase in millennials entering the workforce at a rapid rate. As of 2012, they are the first generation to surpass Baby Boomers in numbers. In 2017, businesses can expect the shift of generations in the marketplace to change even more drastically, and if they're not prepared they will suffer.

Here are a few ways you can improve on how you resonate with millennials in the upcoming year:

1. Social Media Is Expected to Overtake the Market

Social media grew alongside the Millennial generation and has become a necessity to have an internet presence as a business. Unlike years ago, where having a website was enough, millennials expect more from digital content. Smartphones have given them access to all social media platforms, giving them 24/7 reachability. Today, the millennial generation is expecting their favorite brands to continually push timed, tailored, and rich content around the clock.

Businesses will need to market themselves primarily through popular social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, G+, and Instagram. These social media platforms will help your business keep up in the fast-paced world of the 21st century.

The need to embrace these strategies is becoming even more imperative. Dan Simons, CEO of Farmers Restaurant Group, believes every company needs to be strategic with their marketing strategies, even on social media, warning businesses that:

"This is the foundation of what makes us a good match. I don't advise marketing action steps "oh, let's make millennials want to work here, we should have a ping pong table and free beer". Certainly there are programs and tactics that read as attractive or intriguing to this up and coming generation, but they eventually fall flat if the overall culture of the company isn't genuine, at the core. For example, giving unlimited vacation time sounds great, but if the reality is the culture of the company punishes people who take time off or put an out of office reply on their email and truly unplug, then the tactic of unlimited vacation falls flat."

2. Being Part of the Conversation

Alongside social media comes engagement. As a business, the worst thing you can do is to only promote your company through social media. Instead, be part of the conversation. Millennials have opened the door for businesses, being one of the first generations to engage with and share your brand with the world. By being part of the conversation and engaging with customers through various channels, you build consumer-trust.

This is when you'll notice influencers over the internet sharing your content and creating even more conversation. More and more businesses are dedicating their entire success with this approach.

3. Millennials Want to Feel Individualized

Millennials are the "free-spirit" generation, they go with what makes them feel good and empowered. Businesses who want to successfully market themselves will need to add a personalized touch to the content they push out. Share photos on your website and social media profiles with your customers engaging with you, segment your followers based on interest, and personalize customer emails as much as possible.

The days of having "picture-perfect" people in your products are gone. People want you to be real and they want to know how your product can affect them, on an individual level. By seeing others, like themselves, using your product, it'll gain more attention and attract leads-to-sale conversions. The continuous cycle of sharing and reposting will set a positive trend in profits for your business.

4. Create a Flawless Design on All Channels

Millennials are more adaptive with technology and, more than likely, are using their phone rather than their laptops to interact with you. Whether it's a laptop, smartphone, or iPad, you can guarantee yourself a Millennial has at least two, if not all three of them. The demand to optimize content across all channels has become a staple for any business who wants to be taken seriously.

Your business should meet the high-standards millennials have with their purchasing experience online. They want everything to be mobile-friendly with easy-to-use navigation that can easily get them from where they are, to where they want to be on your website.

Make it easy for yourself by going with a CMS platform like WordPress. These platforms easily allow the non-technical business owner to optimize content for all platforms without much of a hitch. While you'll still expect a minor learning curb, the dynamics are much easier than creating a website from scratch.

5. Use Brand Influencers for Content

Now that you've got your influencers engaged with you and sharing your content, it's time to employ new marketing strategies with these brand influencers. Have these influencers promote your products by sending them free products or writing content for your website can generate even more leads. Most millennials trust people like Kim Kardashian and Lebron James way more than they trust you or I.

Use These Tips to Push Your Marketing Strategy Forward in 2017

Millennials have entered the workforce and will continue to dominate it for years to come. Instead of criticizing this newer generation, it's important to start embracing them for the success of your business. Don't let your marketing strategy fail to reach the millennials, since it could lead to a potential downfall in profits in the next years' quarterly sales.

Published on: Oct 26, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.