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As each year passes, graduating classes of Millennials continue to join the workforce, bringing with them their media and technology focused minds and experiences. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials are on track to make up 44% of the workforce by 2025. To say that Millennials and technology go hand-in-hand is an understatement. Luckily, they bring that insight to the PR industry day-by-day. With this in mind, we went to the movers and shakers themselves to discuss how the Committee of Millennials at W2O group believe that Millennials are shaping the industry and what is ahead for this “disruptive” generation.

Culture and Balance

First and foremost, office culture has drastically changed since we joined the workforce. We’ve said goodbye to the strict 9-5 and hello to connecting outside of the office. Now, thanks to social media many coworkers are able to connect outside of the common cubicle; and thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, offices across the nation as well as with our neighbors across the pond, are able to stay connected through Facebook groups, and up to date on the activities occurring throughout the company, regardless of location.

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Office culture overall has become more laid back, casual and many offices include an open floor plan to encourage collaboration and communication among coworkers. Additionally, Millennials are more focused on developing friendships with those they work with in comparison to Gen X or baby boomers. There is a large push to establish and maintain office culture through fun events throughout the year, outside of the typical annual office holiday party.

In The Know

Say what you will about Millennials being fully absorbed into their phones and social media, but in the PR industry, it is increasingly helpful for those to be “plugged in.” According to study conducted by the American Press Institute, 88% of Millennials use social media, specifically Facebook, as their primary source of news and check it regularly. In this industry specifically, there has been a shift from traditional practices to incorporating more digital media strategy and encouraging a larger presence on social media for clients. Being “plugged in” has us on the frontline of all things tech and consumer based, and with that we are able to suggest different platforms and ideas on how to expand a client’s reach to a different audience in a fresh, new way.

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However, we argue that it is more than just our strong connectivity that puts us at the cutting edge. Rather, it is our desire to question common practices, to ask and learn more, which sparks yet another difference between us and other generations. Millennials love to contribute and suggest new ideas so a company that promotes that kind of participation is key for prospective jobs.

What We Look For

 When asked, “What attracts you to a job,” or what made our Millennials choose W2O Group, many of us reported that the opportunity to communicate and bring ideas to the table is a huge attraction in a potential workplace. Overall, many noted that when interviewing, they highlighted that having strong and natural conversations with interviewers was something that they took into account when choosing a potential workplace. In this day and age, it is no longer only about a skillfully crafted job description and a decent salary, but rather the work / life balance and culture a company supports that this generation is looking for.

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Gone are the days where an entry level employee is discouraged to share their thoughts and ideas. Where previously, they would have to go through their manager and then their manager’s manager to get an idea pitched at a meeting. Now, we are encouraged to contribute wherever possible and at all times. Many also suggested that it was a lack of “red tape” at W2O that drew us here and what we saw was a company that recognizes the flexibility to do what is needed to get the job done.

Moving Forward

Regardless of the daily criticism Millennials receive, whether it be for being too self-involved, too out of touch with traditional concepts or pushing back more than some would like, this generation is shaping not only the workplace, but the public relations industry as a whole. We don’t claim to know everything and our tech savviness will soon fade with newer platforms emerging every day, but until then we will continue to ask questions, remain “plugged in,” and look forward to what is yet to come.

 

We conducted a survey of 37 Millennials this week to learn more about the relevance of the Super Bowl in their lives.  Some pretty cool insights.  Here’s what we learned.

Commercials Only vs. Game Only — if Millennials have to choose between just watching commercials or just watching the game, they are evenly divided.  Either way, they are entertained.

When We Watch Ads – if you are a millennial in college, you start watching super bowl videos and available ads the week before the game.  If you are working post-college, there is a strong preference to watch videos and ads the week after the game.  Very interesting.  Basically, if you are in school, you have more time on your hands and you walk by a lot of pre-game promotion within the University, so you’re more active pre-game.  If you are working for a living, you don’t have as much free time anymore, so it’s perfectly cool to let the marketplace decide who the winners and losers are…..and then they benefit from this crowdsourcing.

Make Me Laugh….or I Don’t Care As Muchthe Super Bowl is an evening of entertainment.  In that spirit, millennials overwhelmingly want commercials that are funny.  Commercials that are emotional or educational are not their choice.  And if you make millennials laugh, you then earn the right to add in some education or emotion.   Brittany literally laughed at this insight as she said “If I’m with my friends, I want to hear a beer commercial that is funny.  I don’t want to hear about all of the side effects of a new drug during the Super Bowl.”

Rethink What $5MM Can Do in the World – we always say that millennials are growing up to be aware and concerned citizens of the world.  Slightly more than 50% said they thought $5MM for a 30 second commercial is not worth it.  So we asked them to make a choice on what they would do with this money.  Overwhelmingly, they said they would choose to build 714 water wells in Malawi and Mozambique at $7,000 per well or pay the utility bill for 20,000 families in February ($250 per family) rather than create a commercial.  This shows what an enormous opportunity there is for a company to have the courage to NOT create a commercial next year and, instead, help the world….and then let us know of this choice the week before the Super Bowl.  Someone will do this right in the future.

Olympics More Relevant than the Super Bowl –given a choice, millennials view the Olympics as a sporting event that gets their attention whether or not they like sports.

Ads Do Work – About 80% of millennials said they take action on an ad now and then.  Nothing controversial here.  Ads can work and always have if done well.

Broncos Favored Just Barely – by a vote of 19-18, the Broncos are the favorite.  That’s surprising to us since the quarterback for Carolina is a Millennial and the quarterback for Denver is Gen X.  But, of course, if Cam Newton scores a few times and does the Dab, Brittany and her fellow millennials will be pulling for the Panthers.  Bob will continue to pull for Peyton and will not understand that he just saw a Dab, since he can only remember “a little dab’ll do ya” Brylcreem commercials.

Now time to prepare the Nachos…….enjoy the game.

 

Brittany and Bob

 

 

As millennials begin to hit one, two and three year anniversaries at work, their feet begin to itch. It’s time to uproot their lives and try out a new location! Who doesn’t love the idea of conquering a new city, trying out new bars, restaurants and coffee shops, and most importantly escaping the bitter cold, dreary rain or sweltering heat (depending on your current city that is). According to a recent Business Insider article, Americans are least likely to consider international relocation for a job. However, the one demographic of Americans who are far more likely to seek out career moves abroad are millennials. Fifty-nine percent of millennial professionals say that they would be open to moving to a foreign country for a job opportunity. We thought it necessary to catch up with some of our own W2O Group millennials who are traveling far and wide, home and abroad and near and far to see how and why they decided to make their own moves.Moving Boxes

Holly Batchelder: New York, NY — Boston, MA

My background is rooted in science, and I spent many years – during and after college – working at various research institutions and hospitals in the Boston area. After a couple of years, I realized my true passion was translating science into easy-to-understand health information for patients in need, so I went to graduate school to pursue a career in health communications. When I finally completed my program, I took a leap of faith and accepted a job in NYC at Twist.

I loved living in NYC. I reconnected with friends from my past, met fun new co-workers and indulged in a convenient little delivery service you may have heard of, called Seamless. However, there was still a lot I missed about Boston, including the nearby beaches, the health-conscious culture, and – of course – the lobster rolls!

In the end, I am so happy that I moved back. The Boston office is small (12 people), but we are thriving! We have an unbeatable office culture, and when we’re not at work, you can find us boxing at The Club by George Foreman III, or drinking Paloma’s at 75 Liberty Wharf in the Seaport.

moving dogsErin Scialabba: New York, NY — Austin, TX

Ultimately, I moved to move—to meet new people, to try new things, and to gain a fresh perspective on life and the work that we do.

At 25, I realized that I had a lot of growing to do; I’d lived in the New York area for my entire life, spending season after season doing the same activities with the same people. I loved my home, my family, my friends, and my coworkers, but I was itching for a plot twist.

So I set myself up to make the change. Months before I wanted to leave, I spoke with managers about my interest in living and working in Austin. I met with leadership in New York and Texas about logistics. I connected with other transfers around the company and asked them about their experiences. Not only was I taking responsibility and ensuring that I didn’t leave anyone high and dry, I was also creating external momentum to help me take a leap of faith.

So I jumped—and by jumped, I mean I slept for 20 hours while my incredible parents drove me halfway across the country, where I would later live with a roommate I found on Craigslist.

But since the initial jitters, I haven’t looked back. Not only have I had a great time exploring one of the coolest cities in the country, I’ve also made significant strides in my career. By switching offices, I was able to “start a new job,” but draw on a year’s worth of experience I had already gained in New York. Moving to a new office almost doubled my professional network and my confidence at work.

Brianna Kuhl: New York, NY — London, UK

I spent a good amount of time abroad in college, first in Austria and then in France, and ever since I’ve wanted to find my way back out ASAP. I joined W2O over 2 years ago knowing about our many amazing office locations. The London office has a lot of heavy digital growth goals and, after a quick visit last month, seems to be everything I’m looking for. So here I go, off to a new country in a new place where I need to learn how EVERYTHING works. I can’t really explain how excited/nervous/happy I am. It’s a decent amount of paperwork to get a visa for another country (and securing travel for your pet is EVEN harder, more intense than getting myself over there for sure!) but in less than 10 days I’ll be in a new place with a bunch of AMAZING folks out in the UK office. Definitely a learning experience going through the process but overall there is so much support at W2O it’s been much smoother than you would think. I am excited to start a new chapter with a supportive company.

 

 

2016 will be a monumental year for our nation. On November 8, we’ll elect the 45th President of the United States. Since early last year, we’ve endured an onslaught of campaign messaging via every form of media known to man. Welcome to political discourse in the 21st century—you can’t escape it!

Throughout the upcoming months, the candidates will carry on their quests to win the hearts and minds of the American public. Of all the demographic segments intensely scrutinized by the candidates, Millennials are a particularly hard-won group: According to U.S. Census data, voters between the ages of 18-24 have consistently voted at lower rates than any other age group since 1964. As Joanna Weiss of the Boston Globe proposes, this is largely due to young voters’ widespread mistrust of politicians and political institutions. Politics has always been a dirty game, but in a culture where attack ads, empty promises and fierce partisanship are the norm, Millennials are understandably cynical about the current political climate.

Despite Millennials’ skeptical attitudes towards politics, this youngest subset of voters exerts a large influence on candidates’ campaign strategies. Below are a few of the key ways Millennials have transformed the nature of political campaigns this election cycle.

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Source: blog.visual.ly

Candidates Fully Embrace Social Media

This year, candidates will spend a record $1 billion in campaign funds on digital media. Many have established a presence not only on Twitter and Facebook (soooo 2012), but also on Instagram, Snapchat, Meerkat and Periscope.

Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) frequently posts Instagram selfies, #tbts and creative renderings of her campaign logo, although she’s been frequently criticized for disingenuously pandering to the Millennial demographic. Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) is never one to hold back from sharing his opinion via Twitter on everything from unemployment rates to global warming and Samuel L. Jackson, but is often cited for his bully-like antics.

There is no doubt that social media is impacting voter sentiment. According to research by Ipsos Mori, more than a third of 18- to 24-year-olds stated that social media would influence their vote, second only to televised debates.

As we head into the primaries, our newsfeeds will undoubtedly be jam-packed with posts from candidates vying for our votes.

2016 Presidential candidates on social media. Source: Newsweek
2016 Presidential candidates on social media. Source: Newsweek

Unique Newsgathering Habits Shape Millennial Voter Decisions

Even without reading up on candidates’ policies or platforms, Millennials are forming impressions of candidates by absorbing tidbits of information available to them through their regular media consumption habits. According to a report in The Atlantic, 90 percent of young people simply “stumble upon” news. Rather than relying on The New York Times or CNN for information about the candidates, Millennials are increasingly turning to Buzzfeed, TheSkimm, and as always, social media. Complex stories are boiled down to quick headlines fit for a tweet, and debates are often reduced to mere soundbites. It’s all about snackable, shareable content—and that has both positive and negative implications. While social media has increased the amount of information available to us, it is also deterring us from conducting deeper research into the issues and the candidates’ track records to make independent, well-informed decisions. To be successful, candidates must find ways to adapt to this new reality.

Presidential Candidates as Pop Culture Icons

In addition to shifting political discourse to social media, Millennials have also shaped another distinct trend in Presidential campaigning: The “celebrification” of candidates. It’s not enough for candidates to be accomplished politicians or business titans. To succeed, they must also achieve the status of pop culture icons. These days, being parodied on Saturday Night Live or a late-night talk show is practically a vote of confidence, or at least a sign that you’re intriguing enough to warrant an impersonation on national television, (cases in point: Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, Larry David’s spot-on cameo as Bernie Sanders, Jay Pharoah as Ben Carson and Jimmy Fallon as Donald Trump). Personality and likability have always been important components of a candidate’s appeal. In an age where politics and pop culture are inextricably intertwined, those traits are even more crucial.

The Race is On…

There is no question that Millennials’ unique perspectives and media habits have already played a large role in shaping the 2016 Presidential Election. The jury’s still out on which candidate will ultimately land in the White House following this crazy campaign season, but you can bet that Millennials will be tweeting, liking, sharing and posting every moment of #Election2016.

 

 

In 2015, the Committee of Millennials (COM) stepped up its game to accomplish goals and objectives set forth by its members. As the year comes to a close and COM celebrates its 2nd birthday, we wanted to share a few highlights and key learnings from 2015.

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  • Slow and Steady Wins the Race… Sometimes:
    • In May and June, COM initiated peer onboarding sessions for all interns, associates and managers led by none other than the committee members. Who better to show new hires the W2O way than those who do the job every day! With courses including account management basics, media research, social and traditional media monitoring, and office basics, COM is taking an active role in helping the future leaders of W2O Group nestle into their roles quickly and efficiently.
  • Oh the Places You’ll Go:
    • One of the COM’s objectives since its inception has been to expand across the long hallway. Originating in New York, the Committee of Millennials is proud to announce that our meetings now include New York, Minneapolis, Boston and Chicago. Additionally, we are working closely with the AA’s and AM’s in San Francisco to align COM and SF Up and Comers, and to extend their meeting to all of the West Coast offices. Hold onto your cowboy hats, Austin. We’re coming for you next!
  • You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me:
    • Expanding COM’s reach across multiple offices created the opportunity for an initiative we’re calling “COMrades.” Our goal was to institute a program within the group to enable its members to get to know one another better. Thus, COMrades was born. Each month, committee members are matched with a designated COMrade and encouraged to take time to get to know each other over hipchat, a phone call or coffee break.

On top of the new and exciting additions to the Committee of Millennials, we continued to stay true to our roots with peer presentations on case studies, key insights from senior leaders and professional development workshops. 2015 was an excellent year for the Committee of Millennials and we have no doubt 2016 will be even better. As Jim would say, we #MakeItHappen.

We look forward to sharing what’s next in 2016!

Happy New Year!

Lauren, Meredith and Colleen.

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of sitting in on a panel titled, Millennials Unplugged: What Are We Learning from Millennials? Moderated by my colleague, Bob Pearson, the panel was part of an event put on by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) and hosted at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. Joining Bob on the panel were Natalie Malaszenko, SVP of Marketing at Overstock.com and Founder/Provocateur of MoStrategy, LLC, Maureen Craig.

Bob-Natalie-Mo panel

As the title suggests, the focus of the panel was what we (brands/marketers/communicators) can learn from Millennials. It’s clearly an important topic due to the fact that in the U.S., Millennials just overtook Baby Boomers as the largest demographic in the country. This not only changes the way marketers need to market, but also how employers think about the needs of their employees. I spent a little time covering this very topic in one my recent Marketingland articles discussing the real meaning of what it means to be “mobile first.

During the panel, Bob asked (and occasionally answered) questions of Natalie and Maureen. All three did a great job keeping their answers informative and pithy. A few of the key soundbites I took away were:

  • Millennials want to engage with brands differently. They are willing to do it emotionally.
  • It’s important as a brand to have heart, soul, purpose when story telling with Millennials. The key is to the find balance of analytics/insights with gut instincts.
  • Bob mentioned a recent article where Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest announced the visual search tool for the social image site making it a “search engine for experiences.”
  • Metrics are important to understand how customers are consuming content along their journey – but how does this impact how we measure?
  • With so much data, importance on using gut to guide is stronger than ever. Also critical to look at how the consumer’s (and in particular, Millennials) media is shaped.
  • At the end of the panel Q&A, Bob referenced the impetus of the panel which is a blog series he created with his 19 year old daughter, Brittany. The format for Millennials Unplugged is that they pick a topic and then both answer from their own points of view, often with other Millennial voices pulled in.

For the second half of the panel, Bob fielded audience questions through a tool called Pigeonhole. Not only was it a cool technology but made it easy to field questions from the audience in an orderly and weighted fashion (the audience gets to vote on the relevance of each question).

Here were a few that piqued my interest:

How has cutting the cord impacted TV advertising dollars when engaging Millennials?

  • Mo – Millennials get a kick out of Boomers and GenXers anachronistic use of tv (similar to land line phone).
  • Natalie – key word is storytelling. Ads need to be created with storytelling in mind and that ads could/should have life beyond tv.

Beyond the headlines of 3-second attention spans and lack of brand loyalty, what are some positive opportunities for marketers in learning from Millennials’ habits and expectations?

  • Natalie – key is to enable Millennials’ behavior vs. trying to change it.
  • Mo – takes offense at the idea of a three second attention span (not accurate). She thinks of Millennials as t-shaped – tremendous depth and huge reach (via new social/digital platforms). Can apply what they’ve learned from Call of Duty to shopping for groceries. What can we do to congratulate that and take advantage of that?

How do you value sharing vs. reach & frequency?

  • Natalie – don’t diminish importance of reach and frequency but sharing is the ultimate metric. It is a sign of passion.
  • Mo – her company is constantly looking at what it takes to encourage a climate of sharing.

In Texas, we would say “Nancy Zwiers?  Yeah, she’s done a few things in her life”.  Typical Texas understatement, of course.  Nancy has held multiple executive positions for Mattel, the #1 toy company in the world; she led worldwide marketing for Mattel’s $2 billion Barbie doll brand; she re-launched Polly Pocket and grew the #1 Cabbage Patch brand.  And she has advised clients ranging from Disney to Hasbro to Spin Master about the area of kids and play.  Yeah, Nancy knows a few things.

So we thought this Millennials Unplugged should be an interview with Nancy to learn more about youth marketing and what it all means.  Here’s excerpts from our talk.

Q: You were selling over 100 million Barbie’s a year, inventing new Barbie’s and learned a lot about what matters.  What did you learn about how we think as kids? 

A: I like to say that we had big data before there was big data—with so many transactions, we were able to see patterns that others missed that helped us develop our understanding of “Core play patterns.” These play patterns are amazingly consistent across time, geography, and culture.  We have concluded that play comes from the inside out.  It is a biological drive.  If you tap into these core play patterns, you are more likely to be successful in engaging kids.

 Q: That’s fascinating.  We always think we are so unique.  Why are we actually so similar?

A: Play is nature’s way to ensure we learn what we need to learn to survive.

For example, the original play pattern is “exploration & discovery,” which starts at birth—or maybe even before.  It’s innate in us and it drives us to explore our environment.  As we grow up, that same play pattern is fueled by curiosity and the little thrill that goes with each new discovery. 

Q: Very cool.  What are some examples we can relate to?

A: Reading flows from this play pattern.  Our desire to travel is a form of exploration & discovery.  Scientists feel like they are playing as they are driven to explore their scientific fields.  We want to learn in order to survive and we play to discover and learn.  The second play pattern we all share is “challenge & mastery,” which is at the heart of sports and most game play.  It drives us outside of our comfort zone to help us grow.

Q: How is entertainment viewed compared to play?

A: Entertainment flows the opposite direction of play.  It comes from the outside in.  That said, the new “discoverability” of entertainment content is a manifestation of exploration & discovery.  Further, the more entertainment is interactive, the more the lines are blurred between entertainment and play. 

Q: We realize it’s hard to ask you what your favorite toy has been…..but we will……

A: My favorite toy of all time is Barbie.  And the most innovative Barbie dolls are the ones that I like the most.  We created the first radio-controlled Barbie (Dance n Twirl Barbie), Becky the first “differently abled” friend for Barbie, the first mass customized doll (University Barbie) and even Barbie’s baby sister, Kelly, so we could facilitate the nurturing core play pattern.

Q: What’s the importance of nurturing as it relates to toys? 

A: Girls, especially, are irresistibly drawn to nurturing play—whether a baby doll or a pet.  Girls are also drawn to toys that let them explore what beauty means to them—think fashion dolls and arts & crafts. Frozen’s famous star Elsa personifies girls’ beauty fantasies.

Q:  What happens when we grow up? 

A: Our behaviors change but the drive behind them stays the same, so instead of Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, now we play with X Box or Minecraft.  You know, boomers didn’t have as many opportunities to play with a wide range of toys.  We only had a few TV channels*, but we were ok with that.  Now, kids and millennials have a wide range of toys and they see play as digital or physical.  Plus, they have an expectation that we can personalize our play experiences.  Customization and interactivity are the big things.

Q: When we think of the movies, what is happening when we love a character?

A: We find that you need an aspirational lead character that is also relatable.  Aspirational means “I want to be like her/him.” and relatable is “He/she is like me.”  These are the characters we most want to play out fantasies with. The real life Princess Diana illustrates this.  She was actually a princess, she was beautiful AND she had flaws.  Having a weakness makes us love characters more.  Think of Superman and kryptonite.   One quick note:  In the key imaginative play years of children from 3-6 years old, they will often fantasize with a toy/character that often reflects gender stereotypes.  Many adults think this should change but it is part of an overall process of developing one’s identity. 

Q: What is the future of the toy industry?

A: 3D printing will have a big impact on the toy industry…..digital (and physical arts) and crafts will grow…..kids are getting more focused on wanting to express themselves more……the need to differentiate from our peers is growing….customization and personalizing experience is important.  The Internet of Things will have powers we never realized.  Imagine a new 3D view master with augmented reality or having Siri-like interaction with dolls?  Or learning how a child is using a toy and then suggesting what else they may like based on sensors in the toy itself, sending back data to headquarters that is meaningful. 

Q: Nancy, what was your favorite toy growing up?

A: It was my microscope.  I loved it.  I still remember what my hair looked like under the microscope.

Thank you Nancy, this was fantastic.  Very insightful!

Brittany Pearson (millennial) and Bob Pearson (boomer)

*Bob’s favorite Saturday shows were Speed Racer and Jonny Quest. 

When we look at millennial habits, social networks have become a remarkably important part the Millennials’ digital life.

We all know “The Facebook” first started as a community platform for college students. Today, the social network has over one billion registered users that connect and share information on a global scale.

Similarly, Twitter began as a source of ‘microblogging’, in which users could send out 140-character blurbs on anything they wanted. It has now transformed into one of the fastest and most viral opportunities to communicate breaking news and information.

A new source of information

Social media is becoming more than just a place for people to connect. It’s a reason for discovery, it’s a way to absorb knowledge, it’s shareable.

A survey conducted by the American Press Institute measured the use of several social networks as pathways to news-like information. Interestingly, they found that each social network is now considered a news platforms my proper definition.

Eighty-eight percent of Millennials surveyed stated that they occasionally got their news from Facebook, while Pinterest (36 percent) and Twitter (33 percent) were close to follow.

More often than not, Millennials engage more actively with news that’s already on social networks than developing their own social content. They tend to click on regularly read news that has been shared or viewed by people they know, which is ironic, since the original purpose of social media is to provide users the opportunity to connect with people to see what they’re talking about or interested in.

The fact that more Millennials are looking to social networks as a trusted source of information makes social media an extremely powerful tool.

More Millennials are getting their news

Social media is a powerhouse

In addition to being a resource for news and information, social media has also exposed Millennials to different opinions and views. This generation is constantly looking to social media for insights into purchasing decisions, political views, and social views.

Goldman Sachs Data Story on Millennials found that 34 percent of people aged 18-35 turn to their online networks when making purchasing decisions. Unsurprisingly, this generation tends to do more online shopping than in the store, and brands that have little-to-no social presence are often overlooked when making purchasing decisions. If they aren’t being talked about online or among their social network, people will move on to brands that have a presence.

In recent years, political candidates have seen the impact social media has on Millennials’ lives and they have started to use that in their favor. President Barack Obama is one of the first presidents to have an active social media presence, in which he uses Twitter to inform and connect with his supporters.

Snapchat is a social platform that has seen a fast growth among the younger audiences, 71 percent of its core user base being between 18-24. Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, recently joined the social messaging app in a move to reach this audience, those who will potentially be voting for the first time in the 2016 elections.

Most recently, we have seen social media set the stage for social activism. Many Millennials are now looking at social networks as a way to raise awareness of philanthropic efforts and initiatives, because they can reach a larger audience, at a faster rate.

In 2014, NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin was taken out of Gaza for reporting the killing of four Palestinian boys by the Israeli Defense Force. The lack of media reporting on these issues in Gaza was quickly noticed, and the hashtag #LetAymanReport was developed to alert the world of the situation. Within 24-hours, Mohyeldin was back in Gaza and continued reporting on the whole story.

Similarly, events such as the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have sparked movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” to shed light on issues of racism and police brutality in our country. Millennials have the ability to voice their concerns and opinions like no generation has before them and social networks give them the power to do so.

Also notable is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took to social media to raise awareness around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disease marked by degeneration of the nerve cells that control voluntary movement. The social campaign, which encouraged people to dump a bucket of ice water on themselves, raised $115 million last year. It was so successful that the ALS Association has partnered with major organizations, like Major League Baseball, to implement the challenge every August until a cure is found.

Millennials have the power to inspire, facilitate change, and illicit choices.

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with and they don’t plan on slowing down. Social networks give them a platform to connect, learn, share, and educate. Their affinity for technology and their passion to have a voice has reshaped the way they view and use social media. In a time where you can Tweet, share a status update, Instagram, Vine, or Snap thousands of people at any moment, the Millennial voice is more important and impactful than ever.

millenials

Via Georgetown University Center for Social Communication Blog

I’m a “Slacktivist.”

At least, that is what the Internet tells me after I perform a quick search on “Millennials and Activism.” According to myriad voices, my generation is known for creating and implementing “Slacktivism,” a digital action plan in the form of online clicks, Facebook likes and media sharing surrounding political and social causes. The term is controversial: It has been used to describe this young generation’s “cheap” attempt at political action: Changing ones’ profile picture in support of a social cause; “Liking” politicians on Facebook or Retweeting them on Twitter; and using a specific hashtag (#BringBackOurGirls) or taking part in viral campaigns (the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge) in support of a larger cause or relevant issue. All of this in place of actual volunteer work or donations.

However, our generation is far more complex than a simple retweet in support of X cause. I debate this purely because of my own efforts to make a change. Last semester, I started an after-school journalism program in a charter school in Syracuse, New York. Nine other journalism majors and I would leave class and walk to the school to teach high school students newswriting and inspire a love of storytelling. I am continuing the initiative this fall.

I know though that I am not the only Millennial out there trying to make a difference. In fact, there are numbers to prove it. We are recognized for volunteering in torrents for organizations like Teach for America and for donating to charities at a higher rate (87 percent) than our elders. And just because we are online, doesn’t mean we aren’t politically and socially conscious: In 2013, the Harvard Institute of Politics found that Millennials who were actively engaged on social networking sites had higher levels of political engagement and stronger partisan identity.

Still, there is more to the story than just quantitative analyses. At the most recent Committee of Millennials meeting, members of W2O’s New York office discussed why they support certain causes, the influence of collegiate charity involvement and the need to adjust the charity space to fit the digital age.

Christiana Pascale explained the need for Millennials to have a connection to the cause prior to getting involved. “If it is personal to me, if it is for a cause that has affected my life or someone close to me, then I am more likely to get involved and donate,” she said.

Pascale supports THON, otherwise known as the Pennsylvania State University IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. Pascale says that, by remaining involved in the cause, she gets to give back to a cause she supports and remain involved with her alma mater.

“It’s always nice to have that connection to your school, especially for a good cause,” she said.

College is a notable time for Millennials to become invested in causes and develop the roots for continued involvement postgrad. Olivia Zucosky started a chapter of the Make-a-Wish charity on Colgate College’s campus and plans to remain involved in the cause after her graduation next spring.

“In college, you have time to start causes on your campus with your friends for a cause you are both passionate about,” Zucosky said.

However, the ability for Millennials to remain active and volunteer for causes they are interested in becomes limited when they enter the working world. Therefore, many turn to online donations as opposed to in-person volunteering efforts to offer support.

Lauren Barbiero explained that on-site volunteering often takes up too much time compared to financially supporting the cause online with a few simple clicks. “If it is online, that means it is easy enough to get involve with and to donate to,” she said.

Digital tools such as websites and social media channels are advancing the ways in which Millennials are donating and becoming involved in charities. Call-to-action buttons on organizations’ websites easily direct users to donation pages. By entering a code into iMessage and hitting send, Millennials are able to donate and support causes from their iPhones. Organizations are active across social media platforms to spread their messages across younger demographics.

“As charities and organizations become more digital, more social, it will become easier to recruit people to support and volunteer,” Anke Knospe said. “The digital age is going to revolutionize how people donate and support certain causes, especially for Millennials.”