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How Millennials Are Changing Online Marketing for Local Small Businesses

The online marketing landscape is changing, especially for small businesses.  The rise of “the millennials” is forcing businesses of all sizes to inspect their marketing efforts and realign them with the tendencies and beliefs of this generation.  As a website developer, social media marketing specialist AND a millennial, I would like to shed some light on this unique group, their tendencies and what this means for your local small business’ online presence.

My parents are Late Boomers/Generation X (depending on your resources), and I am a millennial.  Just the word itself annoys me, because of the negative stigma associated with it.  I have a degree in linguistics from U of T, and the fact holds true is that a word can convey prejudice meanings just by its sound.  Millennials are individuals born between 1980-2000.  Although not as catchy as “millennials”, they can also referred to as “Generation Y” or “Echo Boomers”.

What is so special about this group of individuals?  They were the first to:

  • Experience the Internet in their youth; from dial-up to Wi-Fi.
  • Experience Instant Messaging Services like AOL, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, etc.
  • Experience Social Media like MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Experience spam marketing ads in the physical and online realms.

Because of what they were raised with, they are used to finding information INSTANTLY.  From instant Google searches to instant replies to their instant messages.  If they can’t find the answer on the first page of Google in a few seconds, they likely will give up or try other keywords until they’re satisfied.

And if they can’t find something online, you can rest assured they most likely think it doesn’t exist or it is not quality enough to be worth their time to investigate further.

They are extremely comfortable with social media and use it daily, if not hourly.  The issue arises in that some small business owners are from prior generations and may not fully appreciate just how much weight ONLINE holds with millennials.

Millennials WILL NOT:

  • Read a newspaper
  • Use the physical phone directory
  • Trust just any type of advertising

Millennials WILL:

  • Use searches like “Siri”, Google, Bing, etc.
  • Read online ratings & reviews, and trust them
  • Check to see if a business has a website, what streams of social media they are on, and how they are using them
  • Want a voice online where they can be heard through Social Media (and they want their voice to matter)
  • Research the “greenness” of an organization

As a millennial, I am proud of the last 2 items on that list.  The reason Social Media is so important for Millennials is that it’s a way for them to connect one-on-one with a business.  It’s typical now even of large businesses to have an open stream of communication with their customers through Social Media.  As an example, if someone were to comment on Tim Horton’s Facebook page, they could leave a comment and a representative from Tim Horton’s could respond to them.  This builds trust with the organization and makes the commenter feel important.  For tips on handling negative online reviews, see my blog here.

Millennials care about “Green”.  They will speak up about world issues when it comes to the environment.  They understand that even a small green initiative matters, especially in the organizations they choose to do business with.

The main reason I am discussing millennials is because they are getting older.  The youngest are graduating from high school and are now out in the workforce looking for jobs or moving away from home to study at post-secondary institutions.  The middle-eldest could be starting families, replacing their baby-boomer predecessors in management positions, etc.

Again, what does this have to do with websites, online services, social media marketing, etc.?  EVERYTHING.  These people grew up with the Internet.  Whether from childhood or their late teens, these individuals have become accustomed to using the Internet for their everyday needs and activities.  They grew up searching for the answers to questions in online search engines, not in the library.

Who is missing out?  Businesses who:

  1. Do not have a website
  2. Do not have at least 2 ACTIVE social media streams
  3. Do have a website but it’s not “responsive” (compatible with smartphones & tablets)
  4. Do not have an e-commerce site (retailers)
  5. Do not know what SEO means or what to do about it

If you do not have an online presence, you are missing out on a huge demographic!  Generations are getting larger, and larger.  Don’t ignore this one until it’s too late.

If you have not already, now is the time to change your online strategies so you can keep up with the rest of the Canadian market.  Consumers want information available to them 24/7 so they can choose where and when they want to access it.

If you are a business in this situation, you are falling behind!  I work with entrepreneurs/small businesses in the health, wellness, fitness, green & eco-friendly industries to build their online presence.  You are offering services that HELP members of the public.  I want to partner with you so that you can provide your beneficial services to more people.  I believe that stronger individuals build stronger communities and a stronger world.

I provide professional yet affordable solutions that help your business get found online.  If you would like more information about my services, I invite you to call me, email me, tweet @ me, like me on Facebook, etc.  I am everywhere online, and your business can be too.


Deanna Simone

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