The reality is, millennials don’t want to hear marketers trying to speak like them. They want marketers to be authentic and sincere. But there are some words which are so overused that they don’t have much meaning anymore. So says Michelle Jones, head of content at digital marketing agency, Rogerwilco.
They’re particularly unhelpful in marketing campaigns. And millennials, fast becoming the biggest segment of consumers, feel particularly strongly about this.
In 2017, a millennial could be anything from a 17-year-old student living at home with their parents to a 37-year-old with a family and all that entails. Many people don’t like the term millennial, possibly because there’s so much disagreement about what being a millennial really means. Just like some Gen Xers didn’t like their label, many in Gen Yers feel they’re being unfairly labelled and that they’re badly marketed toward.
And there are marketers who struggle to speak the language of millennials. They seem to think that if they litter their campaigns and tweets with enough youthful-sounding language, they’ll be able to attract the attention, and the Rands, of these younger people.
According to Odyssey, a social content platform, there are seven words that marketers should never say to millennials. Odyssey surveyed more than 1 200 millennial respondents in the US. Between them, they follow an average of 30 brands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A massive 83% of millennials think the use of abbreviations by brands is a poor attempt to form a bond. “It couldn’t be more obvious that they haven’t done their research and don’t know what’s going on in our lives,” one respondent said.
Whether you use “yas”, “bae”, “swag” or “lit”, millennials just don’t want to see your clumsy attempts at using youthful slang. Two out of three millennials think slang isn’t effective when used by brands on social media. “Slang makes the advertiser seem especially out of touch when they incorrectly use that language in a casual environment,” said one of the survey responders.
Used to describe something as perfect, this particular phrase has its origin with a pair of particularly pretty eyebrows and has since been used to describe so much more. Some 70% of respondents didn’t like seeing it and while it hasn’t been overused, yet, beware or risk making your brand seem desperate.
Don’t try to use the word to describe millennials and definitely don’t try too hard to act hip. Rather than worrying about how cool your brand is or how it’s perceived, it’s better to just be honest to your target audience.
Just because they’re millennials, doesn’t mean they want to be reminded constantly. There’s been a tendency recently of some brands calling millennials by their name in their marketing copy. Says an opinion piece on Marketing Daily: “Millennials, too, are growing sick and tired of having marketers call them out by name. Are there ways to appeal to specific generations? Certainly, but simple dog-whistle language isn’t the best path forward.”
“Customers want brands to speak to them with honest and transparent language whenever possible. As one customer noted, ‘I’m a real person (just like the people that work at the company). Just talk to me like I am real. Don’t try to trick me or pull the wool over my eyes.’ Customers have valid issues and concerns about their relationships with brands.”
Anything a celebrity would say
Millennials were pretty emphatic that they did not want to see brands using anything a celebrity said to market their product. “Don’t use pretty much anything a celebrity says,” said one respondent.
And finally, the most hated word used by a brand is not, in fact, a word. Millennials hate it when brands use emojis in their campaigns. Millennials would prefer to see you use hashtags and GIFs.
Marketers shouldn’t be intimidated about working with and appealing to millennials. They should just build up a relationship based on trust and efficacy. Stick to the words that suit the brand’s personality. Don’t force your brand to be more youth-savvy than it would usually be.
*This post originally appeared on media update.