Gone in Sixty Seconds: How to Market to Millennials on the Web

Gone in Sixty Seconds: How to Market to Millennials on the Web

Marketing on the Internet isn't as similar to regular marketing as many would like to believe. The "culture" of the Internet has a fairly consistent history of being skeptical about most commercial endeavors and also has what some might call an over-sensitive sales pitch detector.

In no generation is this more prominent than among the millennials, which includes everyone born between 1980 and the early 2000s. Getting the word out to these folks, even in a video, about something you charge money for can be more difficult than it needs to be if you don't follow a few basic rules.

Obey the Attention Span

Keeping anyone's attention on the Internet for more than about 60 to 90 seconds is a herculean task. Every song ever recorded, the sum total of human knowledge, millions of games and every film, television show and cartoon ever broadcast are two clicks away at all times, and that's just on desktop computers. On phones, it's even worse with text messages and social media.

To have any chance of getting anyone's attention, your video needs to get right to the point. Otherwise it might be playing to an empty room.

It's official - we have shorter attention spans than goldfish! [INFOGRAPHIC]
infographic source: wyzowl.

Make it Funny

One thing the Internet does respond to positively is humor. If you can make your pitch funny and "Internet authentic" enough, you might extend the average attention span among your audience by 20 to 30 seconds. That doesn't absolve you from the need to get to the point, but it might bring the defenses down enough to gain some yardage while you're closing the deal.

Internet authentic humor popular with millennials relies heavily on pop cultural references, satire, memes and ridiculing things that try but fail to engage Internet audiences positively. Granted millennials have a habit of presuming everything is directed at them, so a lot of their disdain makes little sense, but that rarely stops self-appointed critics.

Remember Non-English Speakers

There is a better than average chance your marketing pitch may take off in a foreign country before it becomes popular with English-speaking audiences. You will need to be prepared for this, as it is a good sign. It is possible and even likely your video could win an overseas market through the use of translation software and return stronger to English-speaking territories. Your overall chances for success increase dramatically if you are prepared for this eventuality.

Don't Overproduce

The Internet has an endless appetite for cheap, rapidly produced one-off productions and almost no tolerance for anything that requires time, thinking, focused attention, money or the need to show up elsewhere and perform a task.

A good example of this phenomenon is the relative success levels of web comic strips and web comic stories. Comic strips get 100x the audience because they are like gumdrops. You pop one in your mouth and move on. Comic stories are like ordering fast food, which is too much work for the average millennial by their own admission.

Having to type a name into a box is enough to make your future customers slam the door in your face, so you need to think less like Peter Jackson and more like Saturday Night Live.

Remember, you've got ten seconds to get the Internet's attention. You have ten seconds after that to avoid being given a one-star review or a thumbs-down. Then you've got about 20-30 seconds before your audience gets up and leaves. Trying to navigate that while directing an episode of Masterpiece Theater is impossible, so don't waste your time and money trying to achieve it.

The world of Internet marketing has changed quite a bit even over the last five years. Video is now the lingua franca of advertising, and even advertising has had to disguise itself with pratfalls and lampshading in order to avoid being blocked, muted and ignored. To gain any traction at all, your marketing message needs to be tight, funny and over with before the millennial attention span expires.
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