Are You Millennial Enough?

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Take the Pew Research Quiz!

Understanding how millennials think and what they value is critical to your success as a business or nonprofit. The millennial generation (born approximately 1980-1996–it varies, depending on who’s counting) is creating fundamental shifts in how we all think, learn, communicate, and act.

So if you want to reach people in this digital age, you need to learn to think like a millennial. Here are some tips on how to be more millennialish.

Create Millennial-Friendly Communications

Millennials are more likely to get their news and information from social media and the web than from print newspapers and magazines, and chances are, they’re Tweeting while watching TV. If you want to grab their attention, your content needs to be short and punchy, use lots of images, and tell stories. This style of communication is more effective for everyone using a computer or mobile device, not just millennials.

Photo: Larry McCallum, Creative Commons
Photo: Larry McCallum, Creative Commons

There’s a higher volume of information to sort through today and we all have shorter attention spans. When you write short, engaging articles on specific topics, they’ll be more likely to rank higher in search results and be shared on social media.

* Make your content easy to scan and look good on a smart phone or tablet.
* Choose eye-catching images (especially video) that make you smile, laugh, or think.
* Surprise us with something unexpected.

Make It Personal and Authentic

Photo: Nina Matthews Photography, Creative Commons
Photo: Nina Matthews Photography, Creative Commons

Each millennial was raised to be a unique snowflake. They want to be recognized as special. Providing personalized messages and customized recommendations goes down big with millennials. And despite their skepticism and their hipster, snarky attitudes, millennials are craving something to believe in. Information, transparency, and authenticity will go far.

* Despite complaints about privacy, millennials actually respond well to targeted emails, ads and texts that have been generated based on their digital activity.

* Millennials seek out healthier, fresher, more customizable food options, and Chipotle which uses the slogan, “Food with integrity,” is their #1 casual restaurant. While Chipotle does a better job with sustainability than most other fast food restaurants, they can’t live up to all their claims. Still, being willing to raise the issues attracts fans, even if your practices aren’t perfect.

* Even McDonald’s is experimenting with selling customized burgers and McBrunch in order to connect better with millennials.

Make Connections

Millennials have less trust in or attachments to traditional institutions, such as politics and religion, but they have extraordinary trust in the people they interact with online–both friends and strangers–for information, referrals, and connections. The “sharing economy” is growing because millennials have embraced the idea of using technology to share ideas, goods, and services for convenience and the common good. They crowdsource everything from restaurant recommendations to funding their next indie film.

95CraigslistKickstarterAirbnbZipcar, Meetup and Uber weren’t all invented by millennials, but this generation has helped them succeed.

* Look for ways that your company or organization can foster collaboration.
* Even though people are connecting online, they still want to hang out in-person.
* Millennials love to help others by sharing links,retweeting, and writing reviews on social media, so if you go out of your way to listen and respond to them, you’re likely to get rewarded with positive feedback.
* Provide a way to interact – no more one-way communication. Love ’em or hate ’em, CocaCola did a brilliant job getting hundreds of thousands of people engaged with their #shareacoke campaign this summer.