What to Avoid When Trying to Reach Millennials on Social Media

Posted by: Jason Parks

Sixty two percent of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. This startling statistic by Forbes proves how vital a digital presence can be for companies trying to reach the millennial generation.

Be careful though, Generation Y can smell B.S. from a mile away. If a company portrays the wrong type of message via social, it can potentially turn millennials away from your brand. The scary aspect is that companies might not ever be able to recover enough to lure them back in.

Take McDonald’s for example. They were blasted for asking an indie band to play at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin for free.

When one of the band members took issue with a billion dollar corporation asking up-and-coming musicians to perform for no cost, the millennial generation sided with the band members. This resulted in a PR disaster for the golden arches. twitter

There are many millennials that were so turned off by McDonald’s actions that they vowed to never eat at the fast food conglomerate again.

Barry Eisenman, a marketing manager at NUTIS Press, a visual communications group, knows the importance of effective messaging. Their company deals with brand perception each and every day.

“Proper research needs to be done when targeting the millennial generation,” stated Eisenman. “McDonald’s probably thought that nobody would find out about them not paying the musicians. If the proper research was conducted and they looked at every angle of the situation, this could have been avoided. Millennials do their research and will eventually find the dirt.”

If you are trying to reach the millennial generation online, make sure to avoid the common pitfalls, which could result in a disastrous situation for your company. Follow these cautious steps instead:

1. Be Honest

I already mentioned that millennials can smell B.S. from a mile away and this is true. When it comes to social media, brands must be completely honest with their users. Otherwise, if the truth comes out and you were not honest, it will be tough to be forgiven. When millennials do their homework and find something out that is not true, they will share it with the world.

2. Care about reviews

According to Search Engine Land, 79 percent of users trust online reviews. This is especially true about Generation Y. Millennials would rather look up reviews online than ask their next-door neighbor.

If your company is not responding to reviews on Facebook or deleting the negative comments on social media, Millennials will notice and they will switch their brand allegiance.

In fact, many millennials find it refreshing when a company screws up and admits their mistake via social media. Messing up is a real part of life and it makes a brand seem more approachable when it admits its faults.

A global relocation company, American Relocation Connections, receives dozens of positive reviews on its Facebook page, including hand written notes that are submitted online. The key is that this company does not hide the negative comments. If anything negative is posted, it hones up to its mistakes and immediately responds (for the public to see) to try and rectify the situation.

Don’t be afraid to keep the negative reviews online. Just try to improve your overall customer service and the rest will take care of itself.

3. Don’t try too hard to be cool

It is cringe-worthy when a brand tries too hard to connect with Millennials – it comes off as tacky.

Someone in there 20’s can tell the difference between a stock photo versus a real picture. It is easy to decipher a picture of a model with a six-pack versus an actual person that would consume the brand.

Brands should try to obtain more user generated content that has a natural feel. They will be able to relate more towards Millennials this way.


It can be tough to connect with the millennial generation. One mistake can result in negative exposure and result in shifted brand allegiance.

Make sure your company knows what to avoid when trying to reach the millennial generation online. If you learn from other’s mistakes and absorb what brands are doing to positively to connect with millennials, you will be in good hands. Just make sure that your messaging is authentic and you have opened the doors for two-way communication.

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About Jason Parks

Jason Parks is a guest blogger and Owner of The Media Captain, www.themediacaptain.com, a Digital Marketing Agency with a strong focus on PPC, SEO, Video Production and Social Marketing. Jason is passionate about all things...See Jason's full bio.