During the holiday season, it's easy to assume millennials are either caught up in Black Friday madness or going on a Cyber Monday shopping spree on their smartphones and that Small Business Saturday just doesn't appeal to them. But that's where you would be wrong. Currently, 80 million millennials make up about 25% of the U.S. population and when it comes to their shopping habits, what they crave is an authentic experience. Give them the chance to explore and discover with personalized service and they'll regularly return to support your business -- and few companies can deliver this kind of adventure quite like a mom and pop shop. If you've never participated in Small Business Saturday, here are a few ways you can get involved and celebrate the movement.
1. Volunteer your time.
While American Express encourages small businesses to become Neighborhood Champions for the day, millennials can still rally together to volunteer their time to businesses that could use extra helping hands. Be sure to talk to the store owner beforehand to ensure that the establishment you'd like to assist can accommodate you since they likely already have employees on the clock that day. If you get the all-clear to volunteer do something simple and thoughtful, like offering complimentary gift wrapping services for purchases.
2. Spread the word of mouth via social.
Since millennials already use social as a means to discover and discuss products that interest them, why not spread the #ShopSmall word via social media platforms?
If your favorite small business is using a special hashtag for the day along with the #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat hashtags, encourage your friends and family to use it when sharing news that they're out and about shopping. Tweet the news on Twitter, create Instagram Stories about your adventure in the neighborhood (and add in the hashtag for everyone to follow along), and check in on Facebook, all while tagging the social handles of the small businesses you're currently at where/if you can. An infographic on Business 2 Community revealed that in 2015 there were 85 million social media engagements in support of Small Business Saturday. Let's keep those numbers climbing upward for 2016!
3. Livestream your experience.
Pictures, posts, and tweets are great, but nothing captures the moment quite like live video. Before this week, I would normally advise using Periscope for filming, but with Instagram's latest updates -- live video on Instagram Stories and disappearing videos for friends on Instagram Direct -- there are more ways now than ever before to get everyone watching your stream. For the live video on Instagram Stories, you can film for up to an hour. Much like Periscope, your friends will be alerted when you're live and they may comment on your video when they start watching it. Bonus points to anyone who has snagged a pair of Snap Inc.'s Spectacles and plans on capturing the day through those lenses!
4. And last but not least, shop!
Helping out, filming, and sharing updates about Small Business Saturday are all great ways to get involved, but one of the biggest and most crucial is -- what else? -- shopping! The total spending in 2015 was $16.2 billion and American Express has reported that 59% of small business retailers (about six in ten businesses) only see themselves growing substantially in 2017 if they have a successful holiday season.
As I mentioned earlier, millennials enjoy shopping at businesses that give them a unique experience that's more than making a purchase and taking it home. If your business has special offerings and one-on-one service, then millennials build a connection to your brand and are more apt to be regular customers. They're even more likely to be your brand advocate if your company supports causes they're passionate about with 50% of millennials committing to buying from companies that give back.
Because at the end of the day, what really drives millennials to shop? Micah Soloman shared on Forbes it's all about transparency. They'll invest in a brand that has values and is honest because they care about honesty and authenticity. It's the best of both worlds when you can provide a service and keep customers of all ages coming back because they recognize what you bring to the table and the community as a whole which is ultimately what makes Small Business Saturday such a powerful movement. Let's #ShopSmall together.