It’s a common misconception that customers are looking for a “small town” or “homemade” product. The reality is that customers are looking for response from companies. They want to keep in touch and they want things to be current. The millennial generation is now the largest consumer generation in the United States. To keep afloat you need their buying power.

The millennial generation isn’t frivolous as much as they are pragmatic. They don’t expect instant communication because of entitlement – they simply don’t want their flow to be interrupted. This generation navigates information as smoothly as changing lanes; they expect efficiency. As a generation, according to a recent NPR article, they hate things like voice-mail, as phone messages are seen as something that takes up too much time and disrupts their flow. How do you connect to a generation that values function above form in almost everything?

You pay attention to them

The key to success in today’s market is incubation. Incubators are a support process that helps elevate businesses to new places according to NBIA.org. These incubators have resources that allow start-ups to focus their time on product creation. As a current business, the idea of incubation is more to test out products in the small scale before taking them into wholesale level production.

For example, if you see pinstripes everywhere, then don’t go into production on something with stripes. Instead, take your products in another direction, see how well it does with the customers in your storefront or your Shopify page. If it takes off quickly, you know it’s time to move forward. Trends can get old in a few months instead of a whole season.

A great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending with your customers is to keep an eye on social media. These days, everyone is on Facebook or Twitter. Car companies have been in the forefront of using social media to drive sales. In fact, Twitter has driven $716 million in car sales according to Adage.com. Balancing social media with other sorts of advertising can be tricky because unlike traditional print or TV ads, social media advertising is just that: social.

Social media is an art form

There is a reason why companies now hire Social Media Technicians. They know that connecting with their customer base is one of the things that will get them sales. One of the hallmarks of the millennial generation is that they are able to navigate constant streams of information. Almost everyone in this generation is an accomplished information curator. They know exactly what they like and they share it on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. The days of businesses choosing what is popular are long gone; now, it’s all in the hands of the consumer.

Social media is an art form

The use of hashtags and placing your company in the forefront can be a simple matter of tagging. For example if your company, Scarf Time, makes scarves and gloves, you would tweet something like ″Stay warm with the newest Knitty Collection from @scarftimes #knits, #scarves, #warms, #fall, #winter, #fallthings.″ This setup will tell someone everything they need to know. They know what company to look at, they know what you do, and if you use hashtags the way they like, they will immediately be drawn to you.

Pay attention to your core market’s use of tags. Remember that millennials are all about streamlining of information. They want ads and headlines to be nearly invisible. If they want to find it, they will. The best way to do this is to follow a tag that you think fits your brand. See what people are doing and use similar tags when reblogging or tweeting your products. Keep your feeds regular without being overpowering. You want to post a few times a week at the most. Think of this as a passive form of marketing.

Once people follow your feeds, you will notice that some will start tagging your company in posts. This is where personality starts to really come in. It’s imperative that you pay attention to what other people are posting and tagging, especially if they tag your company. Keeping with our Scarf Time example, if you see a post that says ″Got a brand new fluffy scarf from @scarftimes! #selfie, #winter, #colors, #girlthings, #ilovefall″ you then have the ability to respond to that person.

The key is that you want to keep your responses fun, light, and friendly. An appropriate response is ″Glad you love the scarf, @username! Stay warm! #funinthenotsun, #fluffy, #funtimes, #weloveselfies.″ Notice how you can see that there is a bit of a conversation going in the hashtags. These days people tend to have commentary and conversations in their tags. You’ve invited other users to share pictures of themselves in your company’s collection. Not only is this free advertising, but it’s giving the customers a sense of community. This sense of community is the #1 priority for millennials.