Britt Hysen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of MiLLENNiAL, an aspirational media lifestyle platform. In 2014, The White House recognized MiLLENNiAL as one of the most influential digital media sites. Since then, the media brand has become a go-to source for hyper-targeted marketing campaigns using their database of over 200 million US consumer records paired with emotional intelligence analytics. Along with being a media entrepreneur, Britt is an international speaker and a brand consultant on all things ‘millennial’.
How did you get started in your career?
Well, I didn’t choose media, media chose me. I was an actor before becoming a journalist. In 2009, I wasn’t booking as much and I needed a change of pace. I decided to write a TV pilot and shop it at a big television conference in Vegas. Before I could even pitch my project, I met the President of Discovery Channel, David Zaslov at the time, who said if I wasn’t on YouTube I was an idiot. So in that moment, I turned my point and shoot camera around and filmed myself interviewing people on the showroom floor.
When I returned home to Los Angeles, I decided to create press videos around the artists in my community who were making a living doing what they loved. What I realized in the process was that I was creating segments about how the millennial generation was coming into their own and ways in which we were redefining life as we knew it. I became known as 'The Voice of Gen Y' during this time and began producing millennial focused segments for various news outlets.
Then in 2013, I was hired by CNBC and had the opportunity to help curate their first 'Disruptor List'. In doing so, CEOs became my new celebrities. I found there was a lack of online content telling their stories, so I left cable news to launch my own media platform that would specifically highlight the heroes of the generation and in turn understand our behavioral buying habits as a unique consumer group.
What, in your view, were the key digital marketing trends in 2016?
I believe Big Data was at the center of digital marketing trends in 2016 and will continue to be even more relevant in 2017. Big Data in this sense was and still is used to collect consumer information and track online behavior related to their interests. Using this information, brands were and are able to retarget anyone who viewed or abandoned their cart. That is why you see the product you viewed for a second popping up on every website you visit afterward.
Do you think influencer marketing is a viable strategy for most brands?
Influencer marketing is great for any consumer-facing brand. When you are able to offer influencers products that they can demo in front of their communities - it’s a win for the brand, as long as the influencer truly supports the product and is coming from a genuine place of promotion. Otherwise the brand jeopardizes its authenticity.
Do you think marketers are prone to underestimating social as a means to drive sales?
I don’t think marketers are underestimating the power of social, however, knowing how to do it effectively is tricky. Understanding your target audience is key. And it extends much further than basic demographics. Successful marketers go into the psychology and emotions of their consumer. When this is applied to the campaign, they will see significant upticks in their response.
How do you think the integration of brands into messaging apps will affect how they approach marketing campaigns?
Messaging apps are a great way for brands to interact and play with their audience. Marketers will start to become more creative in the way they approach the human side of their brand narrative. Messaging apps are by nature conversational, so they offer a fun way to engage with consumers while also learning from them.