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Connecting with young adults today demands a different strategy, one that captures their attention without insulting their intelligence or spirit. Millennial’s have a different way of relating to peers, to work, and to consumerism because they’re first generation to have grown up entirely with the Internet, smartphones, virtual jobs, and entrepreneurialism.
By 2017, the Millennial generation is expected to spend more than $200 billion each year and are renowned for their passionate loyalty to brands they like—but not just any brand. With this kind of buying power, it behooves small businesses to find a way to target this growing segment without being inauthentic or unconcerned with social issues need not apply.
Here are ten creative ways your small business can increase brand awareness among the younger generation and convert this valuable group into brand-loyal consumers:

#1 Be Where They Are

Generation Y and Millenials frequently visit websites with fully engaged communities that hold their same values with easy-to-digest content. They like visually-appealing infographics designed for mobile viewing that are easy to read.
They also get their news from online videos and updates in social media feeds. They aren’t as invested in traditional media so to reach this audience, invest your time and dollars in online media with sites that resonate with young adults.
And don’t forget to establish a presence on other relevant cultural forums, travel and entertainment sites, health and fitness arenas, and philanthropic communities.

#2 Advertise on Social Media

Ninety-one percent of Millennial survey respondents are aware of Facebook and sixty-two percent plan to increase their network affiliations there in the future, so paid advertising on Facebook, G+ and other popular social sites makes senses. Creating unique URLs for different social media sites makes it easy to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Also, never underestimate the power of social influencer sites like Twitter and Instagram. Buffer found that tweeting significantly increases engagement, and tweets with visuals receive almost 20 percent more clicks and 150 percent more retweets

#3 Online Discount Coupons

Being well educated comes with a price: massive student loan debt. High debt is the reason that 90 percent of Gen Y’ers report searching online for coupons and six out of ten say they share and trade coupons on social networks. To attract savvy shoppers, you could offer coupon’s via, discounts in email campaigns or placed as an interactive overlay.

#4 Be Mobile Friendly

Research shows that 36 percent of consumers aged 25-34 make a purchase after viewing a mobile ad, and over 40 percent of those who click on a mobile ad are more likely to engage with ads from the same brand in the future.
Geo targeting on-the-move consumers is a start, but rewarding your visitors’ engagement creates positive brand recognition. AT&T and Hershey’s teamed up to offer customers “data use discounts” via a Pandora iPhone app in 2014. When users watch a short video clip about Scharffen Berger chocolate, they not only get free airtime, but also receive a 15 percent discount on chocolate orders.

#5 Social Responsibility

Social responsibility is more than a buzzword with most young adults today. The Pew Research Center reports that 25 percent of this generation doesn’t identify with any specific faith, but that social responsibility is their new “religion.”
As the Baby Boomer population shrinks, Gen Y is now coming of age and they are very interested in social issues, especially in relation to their favorite brands. In fact, one third of Millennials will support or boycott organizations based on whether or not they are involved in social causes, and 80 percent report being more likely to do business with a company that supports those causes they are especially passionate about.

#6 Appeal To Their Emotions

Working with Aviary, Ignited and Millennial Media, in 2014 Universal Pictures launched a photo-editing application to target a specific audience of young adults who use photo-sharing apps. The “Endless Love” campaign netted the entertainment giant more than ten thousand brand engagement hours spread across seven million total interactions.
This app that allowed consumers to add themed filters and frames is a good example of how target-specific marketing plans drive brand awareness. Capitalizing on the romantic appeal of the movie, this campaign illustrates how brands can target the Millennials’ emotions and interests rather than their wallet to garner brand awareness.

#7 Encourage Community Connections

Today’s young adults crave being part of the bigger picture, so brands that inspire community-building are in a better position to strengthen relationships with this generation. USA Today encourages engagement by asking readers to share personal photos and videos about trending Twitter conversations. Posts start on a Twitter feed and find their way to Instagram, Facebook, G+ and other social accounts via shares. Although a few well-placed ads populate these pages, there is no hard sales pitch, no fees, no pressure. It’s a simple three-step process for web browsers and participating companies create valuable touch-points in the brand engagement stream. Frequently changing topics encourages readers to revisit sites to check for updates.

#8 Be Convenient

Starbucks does a great job capitalizing on the thirst for convenience with mobile apps that let users avoid long lines by pre-ordering their coffee before they even get to the store. They also allow customers to “Tweet a Coffee” by giving coffee e-gifts to their friends via Twitter. Today anyone can build a unique, branded app in a matter of minutes using drag and drop software, and no coding or sophisticated skill sets are required.
Small businesses can enhance brand loyalty with convenient apps with features that enable social sharing, mobile payments, and geo-targeted email campaigns. Mobile Roadie is a self-service mobile app platform that allows small businesses (or anyone) to create and manage customized mobile apps that can track consumer behavior, enable one-click calling, and give you on-the-fly updates.

#9 Create a Loyalty Program

Consider this: three out of four women, and more than half of men, say they will spend more on a brand, and not switch brands, when offered a rewards programs. Young adults embrace the instant gratification of being able to easily convert points to purchases at both brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce sites. Exclusive perks like free product advice, personal shoppers, and prizes keep customers coming back.
They can also build personal cloud catalogs for items and services on their wish lists by brand, category or price-point. And to top it off, more than 25 percent of Millennials are very likely to post to social media about a loyalty program.

#10 Inform, Engage, and Entertain Millennials—In Their Language

Both Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon speak the “Millennial language” like indigenous citizens. They use intelligence, witty humor, and outrage to deliver serious, informative, or lampoonish messages about current events and social causes. Stewart’s Twitter account boasts 3.8 million followers and more than 8 thousand tweets. Fallon stays current by incorporating “Millennial-speak” on The Tonight Show. For example, he is not only active on social media, but has a segment called “Hashtags,” where he invites people to tweet to him on a specific theme (#AwkwardBreakup, #MyWeirdWatier) and then reads the best ones on his late-night show.
Increasing brand awareness with the savvy, well-educated, and idealistic Millennial generation is easy, but just remember to be authentic, because this crowd is all about peer review. If your message is phony or you promise more than you can deliver, it’ll be all over social media before you can hit the edit button.
For more tools to help small businesses succeed by connecting with and getting advice from their peers, check out Business on Tapp, our free mobile application that delivers daily insights and actionable tips.

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