An article in AdWeek magazine highlighted the importance of connecting brands with influential millennial consumers. By influential, the article means those that are more likely to express and share praises and criticisms of brands online with their peers. Think individuals that add a lot of Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Instagram pictures, YouTube videos and online reviews. They are the creators of online brand recognition and their actions must be both respected and monitored by banks and credit unions.

While the article mentions six ways to connect with these influencers, we will briefly touch upon three.

  • Quality over quantity. Millennial influencers tend to be more critical of brands that blast them with too much information. Rather, they look for quality content over a barrage of sales pitches. Seek to interact with these millennial influencers through messages that create positive experiences, such as education, that influencers in turn share with their online and off-line peer groups.

Application point: reach out to Millennial consumers with pieces that focus on education rather than an overt sales pitch.

  • Social responsibility. Millennials are all about organizations (including your bank or credit union) that are into social activism. Brands that take part in their communities and work for the betterment of the people that live there are more likely to connect with millennial influencers who are then more likely to talk them up in a positive way to their friends and family.

Application point: make sure that your bank or credit union participates in events that are important to the community and that you proudly communicate that involvement to your consumers.

  • Make it authentic. The old adage goes something like “people hate to be sold on something — but they love to buy.” If your bank or credit union can craft an authentic brand message that both informs and complements these influencers’ lifestyles, interests and financial habits, it is more likely to gain a bigger share of their trust and their wallet. Millennials are savvy and will see through a pushy sales pitch quickly. Make your brand message authentic and helpful instead.

Application point: don’t try to push your products or services on Millennials — rather, seek to influence their wallet share by providing education and authentic personality in your marketing.

Millennials are a demanding generation when it comes to offering financial products and services. However, they can afford to be demanding in a hyper- competitive environment in which banks, credit unions and non-traditional financial services providers are in abundance. Your bank or credit union is wise to focus on millennial influencers and hone its brand in such a way that leverages their insight and influence amongst other people of their generation.