Is advertising to millennials on Facebook, Instagram a lost cause?

A constant Facebook storyline is the belief that teens and millennials are leaving the site for other social networks. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even confirmed this in the third quarter earnings call, noting that Facebook has seen a decline in teen users.

Those that are on Facebook and Instagram are becoming impervious to advertising, with many of them blocking out ads on these social networks. So is advertising to millennials a lost cause? Greg Shove, CEO of SocialChorus, says no — advertisers just need to get smarter.

A new study by Social Chorus shows that only 6 percent of millennials polled find online advertising to be credible. 83 percent of those asked said that ads on social networks make the experience worse. When SocialChorus asked a group of younger users about Facebook ads, they said that they “hardly notice,” them, and that they “don’t even see them.”

Shove said that this forces a brand to be engaging on Facebook and Instagram in other ways:

The bar for what content a millennial will think is engaging or appealing when it comes from a brand is very high. The reality is that it’s much higher than most brands and consumer agencies realize. The whole notion of, “Would someone else share this?” I think agencies and brands sometimes stop short, when you think about this. Is this going to be accepted by my targeted customer? Using Instagram ads as an example: Is this photo with a clever hashtag not going to be too intrusive or is it going to be something that’s going to be cool?

What do younger users trust on Facebook and Instagram? Their friends. 95 percent of users in the age group polled said that the most trusted information comes from their friends and 91 percent said they’d consider purchasing a product if a friend recommended it.

SocialChorus recommends that brands step back and let millennials tell their tale. If they love the product or have some kind of passion for it, that can be the centerpiece of a campaign. The company also recommends that brands seek out key influencers on Facebook, rewarding them accordingly.

The study shows that millennials want to be marketed with, not at, and they connect best to brands willing to form a long-term commitment:

This generation wants to communicate with everyone and brands are no exception. Brands must make them feel like their voices are being heard. They want to share their experiences – so brands should allow them to do so. When brands arm millennials with content and make it easy to share, they will happily share their experiences with their friends and networks.

To do this, Shove recommends that brands get better about thinking on their feet and have some wiggle room in their calendar. By being a timely brand that responds quickly, the company can become more relevant in the eyes of millennials through Facebook and Instagram.

Readers: If you’re a marketing agency, what works best in terms of resonating with millennials?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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