This blog explores the rise of social activism among the youth and why companies should pay attention to this trend when it comes to college marketing.
College students and teens increasingly engage in forms of social activism and are attuned to brands’ involvement with particular causes. Through social networks and online media they learn about world events and societal issues at record speeds. Neil Spencer recently wrote an article, Young Adults: The Future of Social Activism, discussing Millennials behavior when it comes to social activism:
Young Adult Social Activists:
- 7 in 10 American young adults are social activists.
- 1 in 2 donate time to support the causes he or she cares about.
- 1 in 3 boycotts or supports a business based on the causes he or she cares about.
This shows a growing trend towards a more involved socially active demographic. There are many factors that have caused this shift, social media high among them. With social media marketing, causes readily become apparent and can build momentum as more and more people join the cause. Furthermore this progress can be seen and measured in real time:
For a long time, when people stood up for a cause and weren’t all physically standing shoulder to shoulder, the size of their impact wasn’t immediately apparent. But today, we can see the spread of an idea online in greater detail than ever before. That’s data well worth finding.
Though social media marketing and college Facebook advertising plays a significant role in reaching college students and encouraging students to take action, it is not the only factor at play. The youth care about society and want to make a difference. They also realize that the world is full of hardship. Despite the uncertain times, young people are banding together to face their challenges: “We live in a period where giving up and going home seems like the obvious choice; it’s easy. That’s why teamwork and perseverance are held so highly among Millennials.”
By joining together and advocating a cause—Millennials not only fight for what they believe in— they join a group of like-minded individuals, who are passionate about the same things. Young people are social and like the camaraderie and solidarity that comes with being a part of a group. This is important to note when developing a college marketing strategy.
Image matters and whatever comments and causes your brand advocates can have major repercussions, both good or bad, down the line. When word leaked out that A&F intentionally excludes larger women from wearing their brand, public outrage took over. The results are disastrous for A&F: “Sales are plummeting, consumers are boycotting, bloggers and celebrities are speaking out.” So when engaging in a college marketing campaign, remember that Millennials love to spread the word. Make sure to analyze your message and firmly pick a cause or agenda that aligns with your company’s image. Once something goes viral, it cannot be erased.
In my next blog, College Marketing: The Increasing Rise of Social Activism Among the Youth Part 2, I will further explore why companies should care about Millennial activism.
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