What is a millennial?
Millennials are also known as “Generation Y,” and were born between 1982 and 2002. They tend to be civic-oriented, politically engaged, technologically adept, and compassionate about causes.
How millennials view mobile
Millennials view technology in a fundamentally different way than previous generations. Technology is personal and taken everywhere. It tends to be social, location-based and offers prediction behavior.
Social content on mobile
- Social messaging apps are most popular (Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram)
- Smartphones are inherently social, unlike desktop computers
- Millennials view shared content as impermanent
- Freely jump from network to network and abandon old ones
- Millennials aren’t using Instagram just for photos or Snapchat just for messaging – they use everything for everything
- Half of all Facebook users are mobile-only
A day in the life of a millennial’s smartphone
- Smartphones are part of a millennial’s morning routine, the same as waking up with an alarm, brushing your teeth, or having your morning coffee
- Millennials use their smartphones everywhere, including at the dinner table
- Millennials converse digitally with their friends via mobile messaging apps as much as they do face-to-face
- 90% share photos on a social media platform
- 62% share videos on a social media platform
Desire to self-document
Often described as narcissism, millenials post extensively to social media as a means to creatively express themselves. They desire to share their point of view and what matters most to them on a platform that makes the most sense to them – social media. Social media is a to a millennial today what the peace t-shirt was to Boomers in the 1970s.
Photos speak louder than words
Photo sharing is the number 3 driver to use social media (49%)
- Allows millennials to connect through creative expression.
- More photos shared on Facebook than status updates.
- Led to rapid growth in Instagram and Snapchat adoption.
Translated into a rapid growth of online video
- Millenials compose 40% 0f digital video viewers.
- Share and consume video collaboratively by posting favorite clips on social media.
Millennials are distrusting of institutions and advertising, preferring to trust the opinions of their friends (and strangers) over the posts of a brand. However, millennials rate brands with social media presences as more trustworthy than those without.
So, what does this mean for brands? Make content share-worthy and share-able:
- Share expertise so your followers can look smart.
Be entertaining or funny so millennials “have to” share it with their friends.
- Provide helpful tips or how-to’s because millennials want to help their friends.
- Let millennials express their values and views through your content.
Binge consumption of media
Millennials are creating and sharing so much content because they really like to consume it– and in a way that’s been labeled “binge media.” This concept applies to both information and entertainment, and it has a lot to do with the way technological innovations have affected modes of media consumption.
Style of consumption mirrors technology
Previous generations commonly gathered information by reading a daily paper (or watching a daily newscast- and the same rules apply). The purpose of this activity was to be generally informed about the world; a few key characteristics:
- Each story had a beginning and an end
- Articles were read in the context of other articles, providing a broad picture of daily events
- By consuming news through a paper, readers easily stumbled upon stories they had no previous knowledge of or interest in
In contrast, Millennials are much more likely to consume news online, increasingly through mobile devices. Key differences with this mode of consumption:
- Stories often contain hyperlinks to related information, meaning that no story has a set beginning or end; the reader can interact with that story for as long as he or she chooses
- Articles are consumed individually, rather than as part of a big tableau of news (such as the front page of the paper); readers commonly find articles directly through social media shares– completely bypassing any “front page” experience
- Readers are less likely to find stories that don’t already resonate with them in some way– while using features such as hyperlinks and comments to engage with something that interests them for much longer than daily paper readers could
Access > ownership
Ad exec Matt Britton as quoted by Financial Times: “Access is more important than ownership for this group. They value experiences versus owning things.”
For Millennials, broad access to information and entertainment is very valuable. Some key reasons why:
On-demand and a la carte: They want to consume the content that interests them when they want it and without having to wade through content that doesn’t interest them.
Desire to self-curate:Millennials often have diverse interests, which means they value the ability to organize content as they see fit. This also applies to the amount of content; for example, they may want to watch five episodes of a particular TV show in a row rather than waiting for a network to dole out one per week.
Institutional filters = barriers: Since Millennials won’t necessarily see value in organizational hierarchy, they may reject anything (such as an editorial board or network schedule) that looks like a barrier to content they want to consume.
- Millennials are trained to tap (or click) and search.
- They look for hyperlinks and will keep tapping/clicking in to find more information on a subject that interests them.
- Having grown up with search engines, they’re inclined to see browsing through pages or channels as inefficient; it’s just not a great way to find content that interests them.
- In order to present information in the style that Millennials are accustomed to receiving it, brands should maximize clarity and efficiency while minimizing barriers to important content. (And keep in mind that there’s a good chance it will be consumed on a mobile device.)
- Remember to leverage Millennials’ desire to search by using relevant keywords and tags with your content. Give them as much ability to self-curate as possible, and when appropriate, provide a way for them to comment or give feedback on your content.
Making a difference
When information about the millennial generation was initially released, many reports claimed the cohort was narcissistic and selfish. However, further research has shown that millennials are one of the most compassionate generations in regards to social issues, and that they have some of the highest rates of volunteerism and philanthropy of any generational cohort.
Millennials are activists
- Millennials were raised to accept differences. As the most racially and ethnically diverse cohort in American history, they are generally more open and accepting to social differences.
- They were taught volunteerism and citizenship from early ages in school and tend to carry those principals out in their daily lives.
- Their generation is defined by 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and other disasters. Having grown up watching others come together in times of tragedy, this generation seeks to mobilize around causes.
- Millennials support causes, not institutions. For example, they support Relay for Life as a cause instead of the American Cancer Society as an organization.
By the numbers
- 73% of millennials volunteer
- 67% feel they can make a difference for a cause they care about
- 83% donated money in 2012
- 52% would consider monthly giving
- Kickstarter: Kickstarter is a great example of millennials’ capacity for philanthropy.
- $984 million has been pledged since the site launched
- 64% of Kickstarter users are under 34
What this means for brands
- Affiliation with a cause is more important to the Millennial generation than to any previous generation.
- If you can tie a cause to a campaign you are doing, the campaign will have a greater chance of success.
- Example: TOMS sells shoes, but part of their success can be be attributed to the cause of donating one pair of shoes for every pair that is purchased.
- Millennials integrate brands that align with their values into everyday life.
- Example: Walmart vs. Target. While Walmart and Target sell virtually the same products, research has shown that millennials view Target more favorably because of Walmart’s negative reputation for employee standards, production practices and price undercutting.
- Their social nature means they want to find ways to actively engage in cause campaigns
- When discussing programs and campaigns, demonstrate the “why” not the “what”
- Facilitate engagement with peers
- 41% of Millennials participate in cause programs by supporting friends and family in causes meaningful to those people
- Create opportunities for millennials to engage with your cause through social media
- Micro-volunteering: Organizations like change.org and Upworthy.com have great success by encouraging millennials to complete simple actions like signing petitions and sharing content that expresses their values.
- Cause advocates: Encourage them to share your updates, change their profile pictures to a logo representing the cause or invite their friends to events.
- If using email marketing, make sure content is mobile friendly.
- The number one action taken by millennials on a smartphone (in relation to a nonprofit) is reading emails. Reading organizations’ emails tops social engagement, reading articles and text alerts.
- When following up, focus on impact not results. Millennials want to know what the outcome of their efforts were. For example, if you’re relaying the results of a fundraising campaign, instead of saying “we raised $1,000,” you might say “we funded four scholarships.”
Key sources: American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation, 2013 Millennial Impact Report, USA Today: ‘Civic Generation’