The Creative Toolkit for Marketers

How to Get Millennials to Watch Your Videos

Megan Cook


You’ve come up with killer creative for your video content that’s targeted to a millennial audience, you’ve posted your videos on social media, you’ve even shared your videos with your millennial coworkers and employees, but you just can’t seem to get the viewership and content engagements you were hoping for.


So, what gives? In this article, I (a millennial myself) will give you a few helpful tips and methods to keep in mind to help boost viewership from your millennial audience.


Who are millennials?

Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are people born from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s. The widely accepted birth years are from 1981 to 1996. Essentially, anyone who came into adulthood in the 2000s and who was also born before the early 2000s is a millennial.


This group of people came into the world during a huge technological boom that’s still running its course. This technology boom not only shaped our generation, it reshaped everything about how we communicate with one another, including how we communicate through video.


Why Target Millennials With Video? 

Millennials have a reputation that isn’t necessarily appealing to companies trying to sell: they have high student debt and aren’t buying homes until later in life. However, millennials are still spending money.


A survey found millennials spend $600 billion in the U.S. each year and are projected to spend $1.4 trillion each year starting in 2020.


Millennials are spending money, and video happens to play a big role in their shopping habits. A study found that 85% of millennials found product demo videos helpful, while nearly three-quarters found video helpful when comparison shopping. The survey also found 6 in 10 millennials prefer to watch a company video over reading a company newsletter.


What Devices are Millennials Using? 

How Are They Using Them to Connect With the Brands They Love? 

Let’s now talk about tech. What technology will your video content be viewed on? A laptop, tv, tablet, or smartphone? Your videos should be created with the viewing platform in mind. To make sure millennials are seeing your video content, you need to format your videos for smartphone use.


According to a 2018 survey, millennials prefer to view content on their smartphones rather than on their TVs. In fact, when it comes to watching content like live concerts, self-help/improvement videos, and finance tutorials, smartphones are the MOST popular device to use. If you want millennials to watch your content, you need to make the video in an aspect ratio optimal for smartphone viewing, which means either making your videos square or 9:16.


There is a catch with doing this across all platforms though – square may look good on Facebook and Instagram, but YouTube is only set up for 16:9 aspect ratio, even when used on a smartphone. Think about where you’re posting your video content, and whether you should have the same video in square, 16:9, or another format so you can easily cross-post your content. Which brings me to…


Social Media Videos and Millennials

Which social media platforms should you share your content on? You should aim to post on the big 3: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. According to Wired, YouTube reaches more millennials than any single U.S. cable network. It’s also the 2nd largest search engine, with a little help from Google’s acquisition of it back in 2006. From this it may sound like YouTube is the king of video content, but Facebook is actually the millennial’s preferred platform to watch video.


While Instagram is not as popular for watching video content, it’s still important to use. More and more millennials prefer Instagram over Facebook, for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the brevity of the content is one of those.




Speaking of brevity, millennial engagement is highest among video content that’s between 1 and 2 minutes long, but Instagram only allows for videos to be under 1 minute, and YouTube has very popular content well over 5 minutes long. I know, it can get confusing, but bear with me – there is a method to this madness.


Facebook is a scrolling platform. You can log in to your account and scroll down for hours, getting lost in multiple rabbit holes of content. The platform prompts you to see what’s next, so it’s only a matter of time before your need to know what else is waiting for you outweighs your desire to finish viewing the content you’re currently on.


Instagram was made for brevity – you can see your content feed in a grid form or a scrolling form and, much like Facebook, get lost in a string of suggested content solely due to how the platform is set up. The platform limits your video posts to 1 minute to get you to keep scrolling through.


YouTube has a scrolling function, but it’s not unlimited like Facebook and Instagram. The content suggested on your feed is based off what you have previously watched and which channels you’ve subscribed to. Because the platform doesn’t scroll through endless content once you’ve clicked on a video to watch, you’re not thinking about what else is waiting for you as much as you would with Facebook or Instagram. This, coupled with the fact that YouTube jumps to the next suggested video 5 seconds after finishing the previous video, makes it easy to put YouTube on autopilot and let it play whatever it thinks you want to see. For me, it’s usually right.




Here’s a cheat sheet for remembering what length your content should be for each platform:

Facebook: 1-2 minutes – The goldilocks platform.

Instagram: <1 minute – short, sweet, to the point.

YouTube: 1 minute or longer – it’s the wild west, go ham.


Facebook videos 1-2 minutes long, Instagram videos need to be under 1 minute long, YouTube videos 1 minute or longer


Creating Engaging Videos for Millennials 

With all the above information, it may sound like all that’s important is where and how you’re posting your content. While that is a big part of getting your content seen, just like every generation before us, your content needs to be compelling too.


You need to educate and entertain your audience in an unexpected way.


If all of your videos are just a person sitting in a chair and talking into the camera, essentially giving an armchair seminar, your audience most likely won’t be attracted to your content. They probably won’t even click on it because it’ll look boring just from the thumbnail and the title. Now, if that person is someone like Chris Hemsworth though, that’s a wildly different story.


I would be surprised and delighted to find Chris Hemsworth giving a seminar, and could listen to him for hours. If I saw his face in the video thumbnail and his name in the title I would click on it in a heartbeat. In fact, I never actively seek out a GQ video on YouTube, but since this one has Chris Hemsworth in the thumbnail and in the title, I clicked it. And yes, I watched the whole video.



Using Celebrities or Influencers in Videos

This leads me to my next point, celebrities. People love celebrities, and love to hate celebrities. Either way, they’re popular and a great way to boost the exposure on your video content. “But wait!” you say, “I don’t have the budget to get a celebrity in my video.” To that I say, “perhaps you’re not looking in the right places.”


There is a plethora of semi-celebrities in internet and social media culture. Take a look at Instagram influencers. There are micro-influencers who would gladly work with you on boosting the exposure of your video content for a much smaller price than a big screen star. They also tend to have incredibly dedicated fanbases who love to watch any and all video content they participate in.


I myself am a perfect example of this. I regularly watch Good Mythical Morning on YouTube and actively search for video content outside of their channel in which they participate. This is reflected in Defy Media’s survey in which they found that 63% of millennials watch video on social media to keep up with celebrities, sports, and fashion.


But let’s say you don’t want to have a celebrity of any kind in your video content targeted to millennials. What do you do then? Remember – educate and entertain in an unexpected way. Give the video value beyond the selling point.


Millennials don’t like to feel as if they’re being sold to, they like to feel as if they’re being helped.


Whether that’s helping them laugh, helping them with a problem they are facing, or helping them learn how to make something, make sure your video content is providing them value beyond your sales goal. We expect to be sold to, we don’t always expect to be helped and entertained while doing so.


Marketing to Millennials

All in all, getting millennials to watch your videos is a lot like getting baby boomers to pick up the phone and place an order after watching an infomercial on TV. Analyze what we respond to and put the content where we’ll see it.

To summarize:

  • Think about what devices millennials are using most to watch video, and format your video accordingly.
  • Create your content with social media platforms in mind – how long should it be? How is the content presented?
  • What social media platforms are best for hosting your video content?
  • How can you inform and entertain your audience in an unexpected way?
  • Make an effort to provide value beyond your selling point.

Sure, the viewing platforms have changed, and yes, there’s a lot more noise out there, but if you take the above tips and methods to heart, I guarantee you’ll notice a bump in engagements and viewership of your video content.


Click the image below for a free, downloadable Instagram checklist

Instagram checklist


Tags: Marketing video, Millennials marketing, millennial video marketing

Megan Cook

Written by Megan Cook

Megan Cook is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at VMG Studios. Megan has experience in editing and publishing academic journals, content editing for novels, and is a professional commissioned artist. Her interests include painting, writing, astronomy, and playing with her cat.

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