One of the most important ways to make money online, whether you’re a webmaster, writer, or social media strategist, is to secure popularity with the younger generations. Today, there are more than 20 million college students in the U.S., and they have a combined buying power of $417 billion.

These numbers should be even more significant for anyone trying to make money online. College students today are constantly online and will eventually become major decision-makers with the incomes to affect global web markets.

While there are definitely tried-and-true tactics for successful marketing to all ages, there are also surefire missteps that will drive youth traffic away from your site or product every time. Here are a few of the major no-no’s when it comes to seeking online traffic from today’s youth. If you do nothing else, just make sure NOT to do these things:

1. Try to be something you’re not.

Young people today grew up online. Typical marketing tactics, like making a product seem like it does more that it really can, or emphasizing a lifestyle that is supposed to appeal to the masses, just aren’t going to work like they have with pre-internet generations. With constant access to information, millenials are going to cross check your facts, call you out if you’re bending the truth, and avoid your site and products like the plague if they disagree with what they see.


2. Forget to use image and video.

Words are overrated these days. And a picture can say a million words. If an article or piece of advice doesn’t come with an image or video attached, it may as well be placed under a rock to await the apocalypse. Young people want to be able to see interesting, beautiful, or funny images associated with the places they go online. There are plenty of sites providing visually interesting web experiences, so if yours isn’t one of them, you should get in line or step aside.

3. Don’t be social.

Social media is everything. Unless you have a product that is already established, or doesn’t absolutely need a Twitter profile to communicate information, you should really have some sort of social media strategy if you want your site to stay afloat and gain traffic. And, if you do create social media profiles, make sure to keep them active. A weak presence can be just as bad as no presence at all. Twitter and Facebook have become the new marketing landscapes, and young people are some of the most active users. If you’re looking to increase your youth demographic, this is the first place to go.

Mariana Ashley is a blogger and freelance writer, whose posts offer a college guide and news for prospective students and parents. She welcomes comments via email at mariana.ashley031@gmail.com.