The last decade has been a period of unprecedented change, with platforms and marketing techniques changing constantly. The newest generation of consumers has a totally different outlook to audiences even five years ago.
Ahead of next week’s Festival of Marketing event, Figaro Digital caught up with Liam Harrington, CEO, UNILAD – one of the most prominent content platforms in social media – about how he, at just 25, is perfectly placed to reach an audience of his peers.
Reaching A New Generation Of Consumers
“To be honest, a lot of it is just about listening.” Harrington explains. “It’s about opening your ears and accepting the fact that there is someone out there who is much, much younger than you who does know more about that audience, and a bit more about how to reach that demographic. That’s what a lot of seasoned marketers get wrong”
A lot of the change can be attributed to the ‘constantly on’ mentality that comes with an ever-updating world of social media and web content; a mentality that Millennials and Generation Y have grown up around. “That’s how they want to read, how they want to view and how they want to consume, they want it really digestible. And the same goes for marketing content, you want to have it as engaging and as consumer friendly as possible, and crucially you don’t want it shoved down your throat. So all of these young people around now like myself, and all the Facebook famous influencers that you often see, they’re all specialists, and they’re all engaging their own personal audience. They know how to get someone to like, comment and share. So seasoned marketers need to work with people like them,” says Harrington.
But it’s not just a matter of working with a younger marketer or influencer and hoping for the best. Each age band, in Harrington’s opinion, has its own specialty and knows how to reach its peers. Even he considers himself too old to be running UNILAD’s Snapchat and Instagram platforms, and has a 21 year old on staff to do that for him. “The demographics that consume the most on those platforms are that age group. I don’t know the perfect way of engaging with people on [it],” he explains. “I grew up with Facebook, from day one I went on the whole journey with Facebook. Someone 4 years younger than me grew up with Snapchat and Twitter, all I’m doing is, I’m an expert marketer on my platform. And there are other expert marketers on their platforms who are younger than myself. [I put them] on my team and I get to reap the rewards.”
In an ever switched-on world, with platforms being accessed 24/7, the younger demographics are also the most aware generation when it comes to paid reach and advertising. They know when they’re being sold to. However, rather than trying to hide it from them in any number of ways in response, Harrington claims that it’s best to go with the grain. Be up front about your intentions, and offer something that they can gain some value from. Harrington explains from the point of view of a millennial: “we have a saying in the office – our demographic do not mind being advertised to as long as it’s done in a way that we like, and we can engage with.”
Theory In Action
“We had a campaign to run with Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae sauce. It was coming up to summer, and they wanted everyone to start using it on their barbeques […] and I had a meeting with them and their marketing team, and I said what would you like to achieve from this. They said [they] really want[ed] a viral campaign, where [they could] get people submitting content. I was thinking [the] word viral is used way too much – are you looking for a funny video to get a hundred million views, or are you actually looking to generate sales of your product. They suggested a video in a similar vein to the ALS ice bucket challenge – whereby users were doing something with the sauce and submitting it, and it felt really forced. I knew from the moment they said it that that was never going to be possible, never go viral, never hit the same numbers as the ALS challenge. Let’s not forget that was for charity as well, and this was for a brand. So I kind of simplified it for them. I said ‘you need to make your product desirable, and you need to make people think that they need your product in order you create something.’ So I suggested a series of barbeque style videos, really quick one and a half minute recipes you can make with the sauces. But the crucial part was that I wanted people engaging with that content, so that at the end of it they said ‘I really want to make this, and in order to make this I need to use the sauce.’
People were loving it, they were loving the recipes and they were loving the videos. That’s already a like, and that’s a share as well. And it just so happened we drip fed in subtly the fact that Reggae Reggae sauce is what made it what it was, so that when they’re going round the shops, they see it and they pick it up. And that’s kind of what reverse influencer marketing is. Instead of me trying to shove something down your throat and saying ‘go buy it now!’ let’s get more people watching it, more people engaged, and that will hopefully make a happier consumer.”
Reverse Influencer Marketing
At the Festival of Marketing, Harrington will be discussing reverse influencer marketing, along with some influencer guests. “I’m going to be focussing quite heavily on the reverse influencer side of things. I want to educate people and make sure they realise youth is the way forward, and the way to capture an audience. And I do want to talk about how to create content that gets the same engagement as a normal piece of content, but it just so happens that you’re also marketing a product. I’m bringing a couple of influencers on stage, too, so the people who kind of know how to do it best with their audience as well.”
Liam Harrington, 24, from North London started his entrepreneurial journey at 17 when he founded a merchandising company. Harrington was never an academic so relied heavily on his personality to take him wherever he wanted to, and to this day, he feels that this is the strongest asset to any entrepreneur. It has helped him massively in the creation and development of UNILAD, which is now one of the largest media platforms in the world.
An avid fan of charitable causes, Liam is determined to use his social power for the better and tackle hard-hitting issues that his generation face including: homelessness, mental health and education. Alongside Sam Bentley, Liam Harrington is determined to change the way we consume content for the better.