Younger people are becoming more and more difficult to market to, despite being a highly sought-after customer base. Because they were raised with technology at their fingertips, millennials and zillennials know the ins and outs of smartphones, social media, and standard marketing tactics better than any other demographic. Chris Anderson, CEO of SuperHero Sellers, joined Liz Downing for a discussion about targeting your audience, creating organic content, and how to get buy-in from generations Y and Z.

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15:21 – Cultivate community

Authentic community is something special, especially for a brand. If you can build a community where your customers feel connected, you’ll end up with a loyal fanbase.

“If you can use that and use community within a brand, you could really start to create something that’s very special. And one of the things I look at is, so I’m from the Philadelphia area and there’s certain restaurants, particularly like Hop Sing Laundromat is a real famous bar from Philadelphia, and they have a waiting line. And there’s literally people that make friendships waiting to get into this bar. It’s a huge thing. Or even people that wear Patagonia jackets, and you see some other dude wearing a Patagonia jacket, and you’re like, Hey! It’s the Jeep wave, that kind of crap. All that stuff, it’s a community.”

18:50 – Create authentic interactions

People can tell the difference between fake and real social media interactions. Be intentional when you post on social media, or your customers will know you aren’t being authentic.

“I’m not going to name any brands or anything, but I see certain brands will have a TikTok, I see there’s a lot of TikTok-ing. They’ll have people, and it’s like ‘the name of a brand chicks’ or something like that and have girls dancing, not provocative or anything, but just like, ‘We’re so excited we’re at this store, let’s dance.’ And that’s really lame. We know that that’s fake. But if you find somebody that’s doing deals and explaining like, ‘Hey, here’s how you can go to Walmart and get this deal’ or Target and get this deal, or ‘Here’s a trick I learned to save money on my kids’ food.’ That’s something that people really resonate with, and that’s very authentic. And I think that authenticity is something that millennials really crave because it is so lacking in social media.”

19:38 – Keep your limitations in mind

Conversing via social media isn’t the same as an in-person conversation. Be mindful of the limitations of social media so you don’t accidentally convey the wrong meaning in a post or interaction.

“One of the things that people don’t understand with social media is when we’re having this conversation right now, I can completely hear your inflection. With social media, you have Twitter and it breaks everything down to 144 characters. You can’t put nuance, you can’t put inflection into 144 characters, so it’s completely lost. And I think also we have a generational thing with little kids now who aren’t watching, especially when kids are out in public where maybe people are wearing masks and stuff, aren’t seeing the facial expressions of adults. And they’re losing out on that social connection where you and I sitting here having this conversation have that. If we were on the phone, we would have that nuance. If we were on Discord, we could do a video chat or a live chat. We could talk on Facebook messenger and kind of start to get that, even though it’s not as good as this with me and you.”

22:25 – Respect your customers’ desire for privacy

Younger social media users are more conscious of security concerns when it comes to apps and technology. It may be easier to get them to go on your website than use an app.

“I don’t know that I want a company to have an app on my phone, because if they have an app on my phone they can access stuff. Now I use Android, but iPhone and Android, you can turn off security and stuff so that I could make it that Target can’t access my microphone and stuff like that. But a lot of people, especially a lot of younger people, very much value privacy. So I would rather engage with than a Target app personally, and I know a lot of younger people also would be like that. So if you’re writing your app, and a lot of apps are made like a jQuery. You can make a jQuery app, and you can also do a jQuery website. They would be pretty comparable to each other. It would allow me to pick and choose your permissions very easily.”

24:37 – Focus on what people want

Before you decide what kind of content to make, find out what people actually want to see. You’ll have a lot more success if you let your customers guide your ideas.

“Let’s say I had a big box retail chain and I wanted to make something to advertise that I had really good deals on pet food. Throw pets at people—well, not throw pets at people—have cats. People love cat videos, people love dog videos, and it just gets them right in the door. You know what I mean? And if you focus on what people are wanting to actually see, because that’s the thing, too many people and too many advertisers, they’re like, ‘I’m going to show people what they want to see,’ not ‘What do people want to see?’ They’re very different questions. So if I sit there and I watch cute dog videos, and then at the end, it’s like, ‘Hey, go buy our dog food.’ That’s fine.”

28:08 – Keep your content organic

Marketing on social media is all about subtlety. You may want to partner with a social media influencer to get organic content out to potential customers.

“If I have a cute cat and I’m just like, ‘I feed this cat Cat Food Brand X,’ it’s lame. That’s the thing that you need subtlety with. So a big example of that would be Grumpy Cat. It was named Tartar Sauce. Rest in peace. Rest in power. We’ll pour one out for our homie later. The point is that that cat did get sponsorships, and it was their regular content and there would just be a bag of Iams cat food or whatever the brand was that was sponsored by them. You’ve got to have authenticity with it. That’s part of the reason why a lot of brands I see are moving towards partnering with influencers or partnering with social media accounts. I do stuff with 3D printing. I love 3D printing, and there are celebrities in the 3D printing world. You’re not just necessarily having to go talk to Brittney Spears or Demi Lovato or Taylor Swift. You can have some dude that you’ve never heard of, and he has like 30,000 YouTube followers, but they all watch every video he puts out about 3D printing. There’s a lot of people like that.”

33:12 – Prepare for a technology pushback

Social media has added a lot of noise to people’s everyday lives, so some people are pushing back against the invasive nature of technology by limiting their social media.

“I think that technology has gotten too invasive in our life. And I think that we’re going to see a push back against it. I think that at a certain point, again, a lot of young people I know don’t use Facebook. They don’t have computers. They have a gaming console that they play video games with their friends with, and that’s it. So I think that we may see the attention span starting to come back up. But part of it is just the noise. There’s so much noise out there with everything being drawn in different directions. And that’s where I see a lot when I try to help my mom with computer stuff, it’s always so frustrating to her because she’s like, ‘I want to do this, this, and this.’ And it’s all noise and chatter to her. And a lot of people don’t like that. So I see a lot of people going down and just being like, ‘Oh yeah, I have a Twitter to go on and post dumb stuff.’ That’s it. That’s their social media platform.”

37:40 – Offer an inside look

If your product is made in a unique or altruistic way, share that with your audience. Your customers will be more interested in the product if you give them a reason to care.

“If I want to interact with a company, I want to know, there’s certain companies out there that really stick to a cause, but it feels very fake. But if you, let’s say, you make jackets. And you’re like, ‘Hey, we source our outer shell from this area of the world because it’s the best, and we help them.’ ‘We provide X number of jobs,’ or something like that. You don’t need to show how it’s done, and you don’t need to make it the hugest factor of your whole thing. ‘Buy our thing or else this dude over here is going to starve.’ Don’t do that, but if you’re just like, ‘Hey, our jackets are made in this village, in this country and it helped them build a school.’ That’s cool, and that’s important to people. That would make me like something more.”

41:44 – Choose the right platform

Find out which social media apps your customers are most likely to spend time on, and use that as a marketing guide.

“If a website doesn’t have a really good defined customer base, the advertising’s cheap. I’ve done Facebook advertising before. Facebook advertising used to be dirt cheap 10 years ago, now it’s much more expensive. So one of the things to watch for is, for lack of a better term, a heat map of where your customers may be going. So for instance, your average Pinterest user is women between a certain age. I don’t know what the age is off the top of my head for Pinterest, so I won’t fake it, but they’re also a higher income earner. So if you’re advertising to a middle-aged woman that’s got a little disposable money: Pinterest. If you’re advertising to a younger person: TikTok.”

42:59 – Target social media subcultures

There are many subdivisions within social media. Find your company’s niche and target that specifically to get a higher return on investment.

“One of the things that you need to realize is that within a social media platform, so if you have TikTok, well there’s different types of TikTok. So if I like 3D printers, there’s 3D printer TikTok. And if you start going in and watching 3D printing videos, you’re going to start getting fed 3D printing videos over and over again, because of course all social media wants you to stay on the platform as long as possible. So if they know, ‘Oh, Chris is going to watch that video of TikTok of some dude 3D printing stuff, he’ll stay.’ So you can use that, and almost any platform out there now has very good targeting metrics or very good targeting ability where you can really target in.”