Marketing to Millennials: Using Millennial Lingo In Your Campaigns.

While all too often maligned by previous generations, few groups are as widely discussed these days as Millennials. When it comes to the economy, they’re the ones who are inevitably on everyone’s lips. And there’s really no need to wonder why; with the last of the baby boomers now heading for retirement and gen-X already settled down, businesses need to work hard to endear themselves to the newest generation of consumers to secure continued growth and success.

Looking at the numbers, millennials, which make up around a quarter of the American populace already account for over $200 Billion in annual consumer spending; and those numbers go even higher if you consider the influence children can have on the household’s purchasing behavior.

So, What’s The Problem?

While these figures may not seem like bad news there is a matter of serious concern, one that has given more than one marketing executive sleepless nights.

Millennials don’t respond to advertising. Not nearly as much as their parents did. And with Millennials all set to take the reins of consumer spending over the next 5 years, it’s likely not a market you can safely ignore or afford to get wrong.

Since there’s naturally a lot at stake, experts having been putting in a lot of time and effort hoping to better understand the millennial buyer and what drives their spending habits. While quite a few insights have been made, such as greater spending on online advertising and the advent of influencermarketing to name just a few; engagement levels are still not meeting the numbers that marketing executives have enjoyed with previous generations.

We’re Not Speaking Their Language

While we have gotten a lot better at advertising through mediums that millennials do use frequently, the majority of marketing targeted towards this group tends not to resonate with them. One of the most promising methods proposed to remedy the situation (and certainly the simplest and most cost-effective methods) is to adapt your marketing message to incorporate some elements straight from the lexicon of the modern millennial.

Now, millennials are a large age group, so for the purpose of this post we’ll be focusing on the millennial subgroup born in the mid to late 90s, often referred to as Gen Z. While the Gen Z vocabulary is quite rich with new, adapted or unusual words. So without further ado, here’s a list of relevant, usable (i.e. Safe For Work) words or phrase that you could easily integrate into a new campaign if you want to try boosting your engagement with your millennial demographic.


The Lingo

Slay - The previous generation used ‘kill it’, Millennials use the word slay to convey largely the same meaning. Someone ‘slays’ when they achieve something awesome. This isn’t limited to people; products or things can slay too.




Slay’s popularity has actually grown to the point where millennials even use it directly in the names of new companies that they’re starting

Slay 2



GOAT - not a word exactly, it’s an acronym for Greatest of all time! A big claim but one that will probably be pretty easy to fit into a good social marketing campaign. Of course, if you’re using it immodestly, you could throw some serious shade on the competition




Yassss - When a simple affirmative won’t do. Spelling yes like this is used to convey a great deal of enthusiasm or support for whatever is being discussed.




Goals – Usually prefixed with the noun of your choice. This term is a common hashtag which is used to indicate qualities that you hope to achieve yourself. It can be paired with almost anything. e.g. Fitness goals, dessert goals, travel goals etc. but is also commonly paired with ‘Squad’, which is another millennial term referring to your group of close friends.

 Squad goals



BAE - Mercifully on its way out, BAE is short for ‘Before anyone else’ and was formerly used to refer to your partner/ girlfriend/ boyfriend. Today it is mostly used in an effort to be ironic; which is definitely an improvement. While I’d rather you just let this ‘word’ die, if you must use it, ironically is certainly the way to go

 Pizza is bae


A Few Important Dos and Don’ts before you go

Don’t over-do it - So now that you know how to speak like a millennial, it’s really important not to get carried away with it. As with all the best things, marketing campaigns included, a little moderation is usually a good idea. Don’t hop on every bandwagon and don’t adopt every trend that comes along. Pick up on the ones that work for your message or brand that you can use effectively and run with those.

Don’t force it - It’s best to say this early and say it bluntly; if it makes no sense to your business to try to appear on-trend when interacting with young people, then it’s probably okay for you to give that approach a miss. For example, while millennials are certainly going to need banking, legal and health services at some point in their lives, it’s unlikely that they will be enticed to choose a provider for these critical professional services based on their ‘coolness’. The result of such an effort may, in fact, be the opposite of what you hoped for since millennials looking for ‘serious’ services are unlikely to be impressed and may prefer to opt for a rival that kept their tone more professional.

Don’t neglect your metrics – Keeping track of your engagement and performance across multiple social media channels is crucial to help you understand what you’re doing right and where you need to improve. Keeping an eye on your analytics will help you quickly fine tune your approach based on how your audience responds and engages with you. If you’re still on the lookout for a good analytics tool, Check out this list on some great free social analytics platforms to find the perfect one for your needs.

Don’t ‘talk down’ to them –This one should really go without saying. No one enjoys condescension, so if you choose to try implementing more millennial lingo and sensibilities into your next campaign make sure that you don’t come off as mocking them or the unique subculture that they have formed.


Commit To The ChangeBreaking into the millennial market by changing your marketing language isn’t going to happen with a single throwaway tweet. To get any traction with a new market, you need to commit resources to doing it. It may not need money, but it will take time and effort to formulate a new approach for your social media presence that fulfills the tone you’re trying to strike. If this is your first time setting up a campaign (or even if it’s just been a while), try out this guide to social marketing will be able to help you perfect your approach, boost your engagement and build up some serious brand credibility.

Pick Your Channels -If you’re going to be incorporating millennial slang into your marketing, you should consider who you want to attract with this approach and who you currently cater to currently before you pull the trigger on your new plan. If you have a lot of older clients or customers that you want to retain, then you may want to try to ensure that each ‘customer profile’ sees a different side of your business. Incorporating more millennial lingo on your social presence (particularly the ones whose user base trends younger such as snapchat or instagram) is one of the best ways to gain traction with this approach while keeping your current customers who may not appreciate the change, insulated from your new outreach to younger patrons.

Make it Visual – When you’re trying to appeal to a generation that grew up on a steady diet of gifs and emojis, adding visual elements into you messaging is going to go a long way to not only getting your point across more effectively, but also make that message way more memorable. While emojis are already old hat, their widespread usage in mainstream marketing is far more recent

If you haven’t tried it out already, many platforms and even a few social media management services have already gone a step further with native gif support and even integrated gif search tools to help you find the perfect ‘rich media’ add-ons for your posts in no time at all.

Use It Wisely

As we said before, one of the hardest parts about marketing to a millennial audience is that they don’t really want to be marketed to. Millennials are savvy and highly resistant to traditional forms of marketing, making them a challenging demographic for even the most talented marketing executives to reliably secure. And that’s why it’s so important to make sure that when you’re planning your next campaign focused at the millennial market, that you don’t “Come on too strong”; because that is more than likely going to backfire.


Featured Image Courtesy: Flickr /  State Farm