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What do you do when you’re not working? No matter what the generation, many will consider this same question, especially when the weekends come around. However, when asked who they will be with, Millennials have their own perspective on how peer-to-peer relationships should occur in the workplace.

Older generations are known for separating their work lives from their personal lives, but this is not the case for Millennials. Known as the digital natives, this demographic connects with peers on Facebook and interacts with colleagues outside of normal business hours. An infographic from PGI details how 71 percent of Millennials want their co-workers to be like a second family. To accommodate the growing number of Millennial employees who build their workplace relationships out of the office, organizations and businesses are rethinking their cultural efforts to better attract and retain top talent.

After all, a positive corporate culture is more important to Millennials than money. According to a survey from CNN, a full 60 percent of 2015 grads said they would rather work for a company that has a “positive social atmosphere” even if it means lower pay. A LinkedIn survey also reiterates the Millennials’ need for community building in the workplace. Of all respondents, 50 percent said workplace friendships motivate them, and 39 percent said these friendships make them more productive.

Still, actively creating camaraderie at work is easier said than done. In fact, this is where a majority of cultural efforts tend to fail—when the employer tries to play too large of a role in forcing friendships. In the Miami Herald, workplace consultant, Cam Marston, stated the most successful companies encourage young workers to take charge of creating the camaraderie they want at work themselves.

“Young people are saying we want a happy hour or we want a cooking class and we would like to organize it,” Marston said. “Employers are then facilitating those activities by giving Millennials space on the bulletin board or Intranet and not frowning when requests are made.”

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W2O Group and its culture committee have a similar perspective on this aspect of employee engagement. According to Lauren Barbiero, media manager at W2O, the culture committee allows anyone in the office to participate or take the lead on things that are meaningful to them. She emphasized that this results in more active involvement because everyone genuinely wants to be involved.

In the New York office, a dodgeball team has epitomized how community building can be embraced by coworkers. Since its inaugural season in the spring of 2013, it has become a staple cultural activity for W2O. Meriel McCaffery, senior manager on the Corporate & Strategy team, said, “It definitely has helped me get to know folks across the company that I never usually work with.”

At W2O, there’s even a committee dedicated to—you guessed it—Millennials. A typical agenda for the Committee of Millennials includes socializing time, professional development activities and discussions with senior leadership. Led by Millennials for Millennials, it’s an opportunity for this group to discuss things that are meaningful to them.

Organizations that want to foster a community-building atmosphere for its Millennial employees need to stop overthinking it. The best relationships are formed when authority figures sit back and let the employees take the lead. Friendship is not something that can be forced. But, when Millennials have an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, their peer relationships will inevitably follow.

If you’re from Texas, you might know that a Longhorn, a Horned Frog, and an Aggie don’t exactly get along on the football field. That goes without saying if you also add in a Pelican, a Spartan, a Tiger, a Mustang, a Wildcat, a Bear, and even an Orange Man…you never know what you’ll find. Who knew Horned Frogs and Aggies could work together in a digital light? Or that Bears and Wildcats could become friends whilst inquiring and compiling useful analytics? Luckily for us, this was the perfect mix to create an excellent marketing campaign. In only one month and across four different office locations, W2O interns developed a simulated marketing campaign and presented a deck for a non-profit corporation to target millennials. Our subject was a local non-profit corporation that offers credit cards that cash back points as a channel to donate directly to charities of the user’s choice directly from their mobile app. How much easier could donating get?

“We collaborated across four different offices to #MakeItHappen, now that’s the definition of #LetsHang.” -Andrew Echeguren, Media and Engagement Lead

Millennials are not one segment – As you might know, the age group of Millennials differs based on who you talk to. By definition, we are between 18 and 34 years old. This is definitely a difficult age range to target, but we were asked to reach out to all millennials who are interested in giving back. When we ran our analytics, we found that millennials are interested in both charity and philanthropy. Our #1 source of information from millennials was from Twitter handles.

The power of hashtags – It’s easy to start a conversation in person with a simple “Hello, how are you doing?” or “Good morning, did you see the CNN news this morning?”…The web can seem a little overwhelming, but there is a way to focus the conversation. If you are reading this, you are probably familiar that it is called a hashtag. With our campaign, we wanted to reach millennials in creative and unique ways to get their center of conversations about how they can help and “Charge It Forward”. Our team created our own hashtag, #PositivelyCharged, to begin and facilitate conversations.

Crowd sourcing knowledge & diversity matters – Much like representing different mascots, each member on our team had a different skill set they each brought to the table…and those skills didn’t all come from one location. They came from four different W2O offices. Our planning lead, Lauren Harris, brought up the challenges of collaborating with a national team, and explained, “Working between time zones and offices was a new challenge that I think we all learned a lot from.” Back at our universities, the most distant person we will work with on a project, is across the lecture hall or living in a different dorm on the same campus. “Working across three different time zones was pretty tricky, but we all adjusted our work ethics and learned how to work around our obstacles,” stated Digital Lead, Brittany Pearson. That must be similar to what you may have learned a long time ago – or maybe not too long ago, depending if you’re a Boomer or a Gen X. Bottom line…we grasped that we are far more powerful as a team, than we are on our own.

Importance of presenting – More often times than not, a presentation of some sort is required as part of a project for class. Anxiety and fear is normal…but why? It’s only your peers, whom are your own age – and your professor of course, but that isn’t all too worrisome. For many of us, this was the first time to present to an audience other than classmates or teachers/professors. For some, fear came from anticipating speaking in front of leadership of our company…but this experience allowed us to understand how a campaign should correctly be performed. Our account lead, Caitlin Orwin, noted, “Presenting in a business setting was an invaluable experience that presented challenges foreign from any I’d faced in class presentations. No matter how many class presentations you give, none can prepare you for the real thing outside of an internship and I feel much more confident in my presenting skills after this experience.” Another insight per presenting, was from the team’s PMO, Anna Hodge, “It is rare for interns to gain presentation experience – I feel really fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to present to a group of W2O employees across the country.”

Think on your feet & don’t be shy – I think it’s safe to say we all learned that in the business world, you must think on your feet. For example, Greg Matthews, Managing Director at W2O’s MDigitalLife, asked an extensive question referring to the analytics information we provided. In class, a professor doesn’t necessarily ask you a question to get your juices flowing – they just give you a grade on what they think you deserve. It’s also important to learn how and when to speak up. Our team learned that you have to put your ideas out there and not think twice whether your idea will be rejected or glorified. Analytics Lead, Garrett Clare, reflected on how his “teammates were always helpful and insightful, adding their input when necessary, in addition to always being open to what others wanted.” You’ll never know unless you try…or speak.

Overall we learned that the soft skills of collaborating within or across offices and learning how to develop insights and then present them are as important as the hard skills of learning communications or analytics or marketing. Experience matters.

Now back to the mascots…we learned how to work together during the summer, but with football season approaching and going back to school, it might become a little harder…but we’ll figure it out 🙂

 

Note: our team includes Anna Hodge (PMO), Lauren Harris (Planning), Caitlin Orwin (Account Lead), Allison Rogers (Creative), Chantelle Patel (Media & Eng), Andrew Echeguren (Media & Eng), Brittany Pearson (Digital), Austin Thompson (Digital), Garrett Clare (Analytics), and Andrew Slade (Analytics)

We were wondering what the entertainment habits are for millennials vs. boomers, so we did our latest survey on this topic.  Here is what we discovered:

 Millennials really do like to exercise – One might think Millennials only relax via texting, social media, or playing video games if we play to stereotype, but Brittany has always vouched that they are not as reclined as we think. More than half of the Millennials we surveyed said they would rather spend time outside or exercising in order to relax.  The rest of Millennials, of course, were split up between going on social media, watching a movie, playing video games or doing something else that didn’t involve breaking a sweat.

The new play station is the phone – millennials used to have to wait to get home to play a game via their play station or Xbox or computer.  What an enormous drag on their time.  Now, games can be played anytime, anywhere on your phone.  It’s clear that millennials, who have grown up with phones and know all of the tricks of how a phone can really work (unlike the boomers) prefer to play mobile games.  Brittany will often play 2048 on her iPhone when waiting in line at the Smoothie Bar, for example.  Bob just gets a smoothie and is thrilled he did this vs getting a milk shake, which is what he really wants.

“Game churning” is the new normal – It’s quite difficult to ask any millennial what their favorite game is, and that is because of the variety of games/apps available today. They tire of games quicker than in the past, since you can play more frequently.  There appears to be a fatigue factor with any game that is simply reached quicker when you play today due to this frequency.  Millennials don’t think twice about deleting the app or throwing out the game and picking up another one to play.  Game churn is real.  Popular games for Millennials, at least who we heard from, include Heads up, Candy Crush, FIFA, Madden, Call of Duty, 2048, Bubble Shooter, and Tinder (if you consider that a game).

Big screens still win – 63% of Millennials surveyed said that their favorite place to watch a movie is on their TV at home and 25% would rather visit a movie theatre. Back when the Boomers were growing up, that was the consensus as well…yet there wasn’t an option to show a movie on one’s iPhone, tablet, iPad, computer, etc. It is looking like big screens will continue to win when it comes to entertainment.  Gaming on a phone, sure.  Sitting down to watch a movie for 90 minutes?  The couch and a big screen will always be more fun.

Laughing is important…for every generation – When quickly asked, “What is your favorite genre of movies?” a typical reply is “Comedy, why?  Simple. No matter who you are, everyone always wants a good laugh! Millennials are all about the humor and positivity that comedic movies give off…and that’s no different than a Boomer’s opinion.

Four habits fill up our free time – If you give a Millennial 25 free minutes, they’re probably all going to be doing the same exact three or four things: sleeping, watching Netflix, checking up on social media, or working out. When we have an extra 25 minutes, we tend to either distract ourselves, do minor tasks, or sleep…which shows Boomer Bob what he has always been saying may be true. If you are distracted constantly via text, email, or other interruptions…we don’t bounce back well and we will do things of lesser importance.  He wonders if these 25 free minutes are really us dealing with the interferences of life or are we truly finding time to replenish our soul, so to speak.

Ubiquity of content leads to binge watching of TV Series – if you can watch your favorite content on any device anywhere you are, your habits change.  For Millennials, 85% prefer to watch episodes from a TV Show Series, rather than a single movie. The ability to watch anywhere, anytime plus Netflix and Amazon’s services leads to binge watching and binge watching favors television series.

Are you really paying attention? – It is becoming more prevalent for us to watch TV or a movie, while we are checking a second screen.  We asked Millennials what exactly they are doing on their second devices while simultaneously watching the TV. Most are on Instagram or Twitter, checking up on latest posts. The rest are split between Snapchat, texting, and even shopping online. Basically, no matter what is on the big screen, something is competing against it for our attention on the small screen.  Even Bob does it now and then.

Thanks for following our series.  Our next blog will be an interview with one of the world’s top experts in understanding children and entertainment, Ms. Nancy Zweirs.

 

Best, Brittany & Bob Pearson

 

Imagine what your life was like before the age of 20. We realize for boomers you may have to think a bit longer on this one.

What were your biggest accomplishments? Did you like to help others? Had you won any awards? Your biggest accomplishment may have been winning a big football game or feeding the homeless each week or making honor roll in high school. Or maybe you just had fun.

That’s what most of us do. Megan Parken, one of the leading millennial beauty bloggers in the world, had a different idea, starting at age 13.  Just three years after Google bought YouTube in 2006, Megan, who is now 19, decided to build a YouTube channel to share her latest thinking on beauty and life skills. Today, her growing audience has more than 800,000 subscribers to her channel and more than 120 million views. It’s now a media outlet with more reach than most cable shows.

Not bad for an idea started by Megan when she was 13. Megan is also a great friend of mine. So I asked her a few questions recently. Here is a summary of our conversation.

#1 – Vlogging vs. Blogging – “When I first started, I had no idea where it would take me,” said Megan Parken, age 19, and one of the world’s first Beauty Vloggers on YouTube. When I asked Parken what motivated her to create this leading social media platform, meganheartsmakeup, she replied, “Videos for me was something I felt comfortable with. I also felt there was a connection I made with the viewers that was very important to me.” My question was “Why videos? Why not write a blog?” Parken enlightened me how important the personable aspect of videos became to her. Much like an in-person conversation, you can see the way someone’s facial features coincide with what they are saying. Videos are the same way. You can see emotion. “People often comment that they see me as a ‘friend’ or a ‘big sister’ and that means a lot to me.” Parken explained.

#2 – Classic website reviews are becoming outdated – yes, reviews written and posted online are quick, simple, and easily accessible…but for beauty products, video reviews are the latest fad. Parken commented, “People love to watch review videos. I think seeing how a product looks and performs live is huge! You can search your favorite lipstick color and see exactly how it looks and applies on a real person!” After watching review videos, you can now buy that Russian Red lip color that looked too bright on advertisements, yet really appeared its true darker maroon shade shown on a Beauty Guru’s lips. With that being said about videos creating more of a truthful view on products, Parken admitted, “I am very careful with the products and brands I choose to represent. I want to stay honest, and have that mutual respect with my viewers that I will never promote something I don’t truly use and love.”

#3 – Millennials aren’t the only ones watching – We know that the Internet is a huge place and anyone in the world can view the same screen you’re viewing at this moment. What we don’t know is how one blog, video, status, or tweet can affect someone from halfway across the globe, and to what extent. “I’ve had many people from all around the world say I have impacted or inspired them, but the ones that stick out in my mind are moms.” Parken not only has Millennials constantly scrolling through her video feed, but she also has parents glancing at her work and acknowledging her for it. “Many moms comment on my videos telling me that they see me as a role model for their young girls, and that is just so special to me.” Parken tells us.

#4 – “Letter To Me” by Brad Paisley – is a famous country song where Brad Paisley goes back and tells his seventeen year old self everything he would have done differently, and has learned. Parken’s favorite video that she has done is a video called “Letter To Me”, which was inspired by the wonderful country song. “In my video I urged people to send me video responses, explaining their own personal ‘letters to their younger selves’,” Parken told us, as we learned not all of her videos are about beauty, makeup, or fashion. She is different than other beauty guru’s on YouTube…she speaks to her subscribers about life skills, her life experiences, advice, and much more. This not only sets Parken apart, but it also allows her to feel connected with her viewers. Parken then said, “The response was amazing. It made me truly realize how many people I was affecting and showed me no matter how far away these people lived, we were all alike in some ways.”

#5 – From Digital to Print – Back in 2009, Parken was contacted by Seventeen Magazine and asked if she would be willing to appear in their magazine as a Beauty Smartie (a guru who creates beauty and hair related articles). When Parken said yes to Seventeen, she explained “the next day I was flown out to NYC to shoot with them.” Parken has now appeared in the magazine over ten times as a Beauty Smartie. She explained that working with Seventeen was an amazing experience and “working with them on shoots felt more like fun than work! Working with them was such a surreal experience. It felt like something out of a movie.”

#6 – Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the Smartest Beauty of them all? – Megan Parken! She excitedly shared “In 2011 I won the Seventeen Beauty Smartie of The Year. It was a long process of challenges, and going against other very talented YouTube Beauty Gurus. In the end, I was lucky enough to win! To win Beauty Smartie of The Year really meant a lot to me, and showed me my hard work really did pay off! It was really an honor.”

Megan, this was a lot of fun to do. Thank you.

I hope you all enjoy learning about Megan and her work.

Best, Brittany Pearson

We recently sat down to speak with Millennials working for W2O Group in London to think about what is different between Europe and the US.

It is fascinating to both of us to figure out why we have slight differences in our behavior.  Here’s seven examples of how we’re different.

#1 – What’s App is the Choice of a Diverse Region – in a region of 50+ countries, you have a wide variety of telecom providers, phone choices, different cultures and a much earlier embrace of open source software for mobile phones. Android is normal and widespread in the EU. What’s App works across iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android and Nokia.  The ability to work across many software platforms, has become far more important for EU Millennials.  Unlike the iPhone obsessed US, where iMessage is king.

#2 – When a Channel is Local and Trust is an Important Factor, Pay Attention – our careers are pretty important to us.  We want the information just right and we care who sees our information.  Back in 2006, Xing was formed by entrepreneurs in Hamburg, Germany.  Today, Xing is preferred vs. LinkedIn in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, all German-speaking countries.  We believe this will be a trend worldwide in the years ahead.  The more personal the information, the higher the likelihood of local channel success.

#3 – Not all Channels Resonate – Germany, Sweden and Twitter don’t mix well.  Sweden and Pinterest are not a match.  Not sure why.  It just isn’t something people like as much.

#4 – The Common Choices are ClearSnapchat is big for EU and the US.  Spotify is well regarded.  Facebook for sharing of event information works in both regions and Instagram is a winner.  Complete agreement on these four.

#5 – Connecting Accounts to Apps or Social Sites is an Issue – there is little support for having to connect your account to Facebook when you use Spotify in Germany, for example.  There is a general feeling of “why do you have to know what I’m doing”.  Of course, as we think about our feelings on privacy, we are having this discussion in London, where there are estimated to be 500,000 cameras to track what we do in public.  In both regions, there is not a high degree of anxiety about privacy, but there is an underlying question we’re all asking.  How much information is too much and what are you doing with my info?

#6 – #dontcareabouthashtags – that’s the perfect hashtag for EU Millennials.  They don’t care about hashtags like Americans do.  They exist, just not that interested in them.

#7 – Amazon Prime trumps NetFlix – Amazon Prime, BBC and SkyTV are more relevant than NetFlix, which came in fourth in people’s minds.  Bob wonders if the phenomenon of stock price and Silicon Valley buzz impacts our decisions more in the US.  In the US, we hear about NetFlix stock constantly and what the CEO is doing.  In Europe, not so much…..and the result is Amazon Prime is just fine thank you and we still like our local/regional providers.

Thanks to Lisa Neiss, Ruta Freitakaite, Kathrin Harhoff, Zoe Kindler, Piers Jones and Tove Bergenholt for sharing their thoughts and perspectives from living in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania and Sweden.  We realized after speaking with you that there are a lot of common areas between the US and Europe, but an equal number of differences that are pretty cool to think about.

We have a lot more to cover in the future.  Thanks again.

Brittany Pearson (Millennial) and Bob Pearson (Boomer)

Facebook is like family to today’s millennials.  It is relevant in our lives, it’s sometimes annoying, it doesn’t always do what we want, but we know it will be with us for the long haul and we want it to be there.  For those of us who are parents, it sure sounds like us.

Millennials will always try what is new/hot and they know that Facebook will still be there at the end of the day ready to be of help.  Here is what our latest Millennial discussions led us to realize.

#1 – We shape our behaviors in middle school and high school – the majority of millennials make the choice to get on Facebook in middle school or high school.  When we think about it, we make a lot of choices that stick with us forever at this point in time.  Our favorite music, the languages we speak, our set of friends, how we consume content, what we eat and much more.  Social channels are part of this mix.  In this case, Facebook is “who we are”.  It’s grown up with us, so even if we criticize it now and then (like our parents), it’s going to be hard to let go of it.

#2 – We use Facebook to track friends, families and groups – millennials use the channel to track what their important groups are doing.  This means that Facebook is more a place to see a group notification or check out your family members who are not on SnapChat or to see if anything is interesting in your friend group (personal news feed).  This only takes 1-3 hours a day tops, so usage is less.  What’s important is that it is the only place where all of our people are available to track.

#3 – Millennials text or Snapchat more than FB Messenger – it’s more difficult to use Messenger since you need to go all the way onto an app, rather than just use your phone…and then you have to go all the way to Messenger, rather than just text…..and then you can’t turn off the read receipts on Messenger.  That’s the equivalent of boomers having to get into the family station wagon and drive to their friend’s house to see if they are home, rather than just using the phone to call them.  It may not seem like a burden to boomers to use Messenger vs. text or Snapchat, but to millennials, this is an unnecessary mountain to climb.  So they don’t.

#4 – Facebook is less relevant in the “now”, more relevant as “historian” – let’s say you go to a concert tonight.  A boomer will share a photo and a post.  A millennial will share updates from Snapchat during the concert and later in the evening after the show is over, they’ll place a collection of photos on Facebook.  Boomers see Facebook as relevant now.  Millennials see Facebook as their historian.

#5 – Controlled and/or private networks are the trend – you can control who gets your texts.  You have significant control on who receives your Snapchats.  On Facebook, the trend appears to be moving towards more privacy their as well.  The millennial perspective appears to be “if my other channels are essentially private or focused on who I know, why can’t Facebook be the same”?  So a major shift is occurring towards private and controlled networks.  Habits formed in new channels shape our overall habits.  Overall, this is good to prevent “creepin”, but bad for advertisers who prefer data being more public.

#6 – Friends define who friends are more than the individual – back in the “old days”, boomers had this antiquated idea that they would be friends with people they really knew, but not much more than that.  In today’s Facebook world, many millennials have between 500-2000 friends.  This happens because “who you are friends with” becomes the open door to becoming a friend.  This reliance on “mutual friends” as a qualifier is leading to much larger friend groups.  Mutual friends can be classmates, teams, companies and other groups.  The good news, from the boomer’s perspective, is that millennials do seem to want to know their friends…..they don’t just let anyone in and they rarely meet someone for the first time via Facebook.

#7 – Decorum sets in after high school – yes, Facebook trash talking occurs in middle school and then starts slowing down in high school.  That makes sense.

#8 – Millennials want Facebook to succeed – Millennials want Facebook to enable products to be bought directly similar to Amazon.com; they want to live stream movies from their account like Netflix; they want to “do it all” in one place, e.g. Snapchat, videos, messaging and more; they want to find a job within Facebook ala LinkedIn; and they want to be able to create media to tell their own story from within Facebook, like we can via PC software.  Basically, the message to Facebook is “bring it on”.

All the best, Brittany Pearson (millennial) and Bob Pearson (boomer)

SXSW just ended in Austin, so we thought we would write this Millennials Unplugged post from the standpoint of “what matters to us”.  We’re not trying to create a better list of technology innovations.  We just talked this weekend about what we both care about. We also asked our W2O Millennial colleagues for their first-hand views, as well.   Here’s our SXSW summary. 

#1 – We are shifting from Call of Duty to Duty calls – Brittany grew up playing Call of Duty, often as well as the boys, who seemed to dedicate every waking hour to reaching the next level.  Well before women in tech was a theme, Brittany was waiting in line for the midnight launch of the newest Call of Duty game.  Just her and 100+ boys.  That was then.  Now, we see an explosion of wearables, 3D printing and, in particular, healthcare applications.  Bob always hoped that this generation who grew up on gaming would eventually apply their knowledge to the real world, although he was skeptical at times as he watched 5-6 kids shoot each other on screen, laugh and drink a diet pepsi. But it looks like it’s happening.  Kids used to spend time teaching others cheats and tricks of the trade for video games.  Now, we are realizing that as millennials get older, they will start applying tremendous technical knowledge to innovation that may not have been so obvious to us parents.  Yes, fellow parents, our kids did pick up new skills we didn’t fully appreciate.  And as their skills widen beyond Call of Duty to applications in life, it also opens up more opportunities for women in technology.  Duty calls and millennials are ready to surprise us with their innovative ideas.

#2 – Virtual Reality Drives Healthcare Reality – we are living in a time when we have tremendous technology advances and we have a health system in flux due to the Affordable Care Act.  Our colleague, Anke Knospe of Twist said “SXSW helped solidify that virtual reality is truly taking shape and offers potential far beyond video and gaming. Physicians have already been using aspects of virtual reality to conduct surgeries or help treat psychiatric/neurologic conditions, but video games and VR may even show promise as diagnostic tools and could potentially help improve the drug development process.”  Anke’s right, but what she said next is profound.  “While highly scientific, healthcare typically hasn’t been known to be the most innovative and, in the past, hasn’t attracted the (millennial) geek squad that has helped push social media/tech into a new era. The fact that we are now starting conversations around using video games and VR in healthcare and that companies like Akili are working on out of the box ideas like developing a video game to diagnose Alzheimer’s at an early stage are speaking to the fact disruptive thinkers are no longer steering clear of pharma and healthcare.”  Anke, we both believe you are right.  It is becoming cool to innovate in healthcare for millennials and beyond.  Let’s go!

#3 – Let’s break down the walls to connect and share – anyone who does this wins.  That’s why we like Meerkat, Periscope, Snapchat and iBeacons.  Help us connect faster?  Heck, even Bob likes that.  Help us live stream video to twitter?  No brainer.  Break down barriers.  Break down barriers.  Break down barriers.  The three things we both care about.  Meriel McCaffery of WCG added a very interesting observation. She said “Considering the (snails) pace with which some companies adapt basic social media (e.g. Twitter and Facebook), this for me underlines that we need to continue to push our clients and, as an industry, are obligated to make our clients uncomfortable.”  Meriel’s right in our book.  Technology makes innovation possible.  Consultants push the envelope related to what is possible.  It’s like Reese’s.  Have to have chocolate and peanut butter or it just doesn’t work the same.  At least that’s what Brittany says.  Bob’s on a diet.

#4 – Being a real person online matters…..a lot – it’s not all about technology.  We’re people and we care about making connections and doing the right thing.  Taylor Carr of WCG provided a great summary of what he believes matters about better understanding human behavior.

Unconscious Bias conversation – Sometimes, we don’t even understand our decisions, or why we’re making them.  We all loved Judith Williams of Google’s talk at PreCommerce who made us all think about what we do and why we do it.

Empathy at scale – Taylor really loved the Covey quote that was included in this presentation, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Business today is tasked with actually understanding and listening to its audience.

  • It’s All About Strength – Truly tapping into people’s strengths and passions to really unleash them within their organization. In order to do that, you really have to deeply understand them.  Great talk from Mason Nelder of Verizon

Taylor said why this matters.  “We wear a lot of hats. Communicators, marketers, consultants, etc. Today, it’s becoming more important we add some others to our portfolio. Those of sociologist, psychologist and more. Digital technologies like our analytics tools are starting to allow us to “listen” to audiences, but a crucial layer isn’t just listening, but understanding them. Their behavior, emotions, habits, tendencies and more.

#5 – How about just getting to the point? Samantha Hershman of WCG was inspired by Al Roker’s talk and his point to do just that…..get to the point.  She said “I find Al Roker to be an extremely interesting person and appreciated his whole take on digital communications today. What I found impactful was when he talked about what we’re learning about consumers this year, as opposed to last year, and he said that consumers really just want people to be honest with them. He continued to say that consumers are looking for more value in their daily tasks – pretty much they want people to get to the point.”

#6 — Societal benefits of technology are important – a great example is a company started in Austin by Stephen Garten and Scott Jacobs called Charity Charge.  This new company, which was one of 10 companies selected by IBM at SXSW as a key social business start-up is “a for profit benefit corporation focused on creating giving tools that allow people to make the world a better place through simple actions. You use a credit card to earn 1% cash back donations to help the charities of your choice charge forward.”  Perhaps the next Toms is starting right in our backyard?  Let’s hope.

#7 – Automate our lives, please – yes, automated cars are good.  Energy transfer by wifi (Witricity)to allow us to not carry cords in our backpacks or charge an electric car in the future is good.  We’re not scared of what’s next.  Yes, bring it on.  The no brainer of no-brainers for both millennials and boomers. Automation will soon not only assist, but replace the need for human intervention and operators.  That sounds more cool than scary to us.

That’s what we know.  Enjoy, Brittany and Bob Pearson

Our next column will be on Facebook.

More than 700 million photos and videos are shared each day on Snapchat, arguably the hottest service for millennials in social media.  We decided to look at Snapchat from the perspective of a millennial (Brittany) and a boomer (Bob) with the help of survey results from millennial friends, including the W2O Millennial Committee.   Here are our top 11 insights.

#1 – The Heirarchy of “Moments” – Snapchat is mainly used to show what you are doing in the moment.  The quick reveal.  If a photo is more historical, Instagram is the favorite and if you are sharing more than one photo for posterity, you go to Facebook.  There is a genuine hierarchy of moments that defines which social channel is used.

#2 – Entertainment Defined as How we Distract Ourselves – we have heard entertainment be defined as “how we choose to distract ourselves”.  Snapchat is most often used randomly, sometimes during school, often on the weekends, but less at work.  It’s becoming a way to entertain ourselves via a quick distraction.  We choose these seconds long time points to laugh, smile or just communicate.

#3 – Snapchats are Safer than Texting – most millennials believe their snapchats are kept and can be found in the future, but many don’t care.  With texting, however, you have to care, since a text doesn’t go away right away.  So millennials appear to feel more safety with Snapchat than texting, even though you can delete your texts.  That little bit of extra work makes texts feel very different in this regard.

#4 – Knowing Parents aren’t in Snapchat is a Gamechanger – millennials send messages on Snapchat they would not send on other channels.  And that’s because of a major bonus of Snapchat.  Most co-workers and almost all parents aren’t on Snapchat!  They are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.  You can also send a Snapchat directly to a friend or friends, so you have more control and far less oversight of “those people”, which includes parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and other potential snoopers.

#5 – Snap Stories is a rival to Facebook News – you can share stories that last 24 hours, everyone can see the story and once you watch it, it goes away.  Plus, you can see who has seen it so far.  This is competitive with Facebook’s news site and may even serve as a replacement for some.

#6 – Introduction to Mainstream News is Happening – Snapchat is sharing advertising videos from media outlets like CNN and Cosmopolitan where you can get the latest story and a couple of key facts.  A very smart way to introduce those on Snapchat to brands in a non-intimidating way.   And maybe news will get cool again.

#7 – Why We Snapchat – most reasons center around being funny, sharing an offbeat moment, sharing location or commiserating with friends.  Examples range from making a selfie with a doodle (drawing on face with your finger), making an odd face, showing a scenic scene, saying hi to a friend from a location or simply showing a picture of your face with the temperature on it and saying “ugh class”.

#8 – Stay Under 15 Seconds – any story over 15 seconds is considered to be annoying.  This actually makes sense, since the content is not all that serious.  No one really wants to see you drink a smoothie for 30 seconds.

#9 – Brand Loyalty is Low – 75% of those we talked with don’t care if Snapchat becomes available in a similar service or if it becomes old news.  This is showing us that millennials love Snapchat now, but they will also love what is next just as much.

#10 – Text is Favorite Way to Send a Quick Message – text still wins.  We think it is because with Snapchat, a message pops up with a person’s name, but a text pops up with a person’s name and the message.  Just like #3, making things a little bit easier makes a big difference in usage patterns.

#11 – Low Awareness of FTC Issue or Valuation – very few people were aware that Snapchat settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) due to privacy and compliance issues and even fewer knew what the valuation of Snapchat is (ranged from $100MM to $1bn to $2bn to $10bn).   Once again, what matters to GenX and Boomers for regulatory or financial issues is largely irrelevant and ignored by millennials for social media.  Millennials care about the channel and what it does, period.

Hope you enjoy.

 Brittany Pearson (millennial) and Bob Pearson (boomer)

This is the first of a series of blog posts written by Boomers/Gen X and millennials.  In each case, we’ll look at a topic from the perspective of millennials, contrast that with the Boomer’s/Gen X perspective and figure out what the insight is to share.  Our goal is to learn from each generation.  Here are ten key insights on texting.

#1 – The crowdsourcing of social replies – if you are a boomer, you get a text and you reply to it.  Life is simple.  Millennials, however, often get a text and ask their friends for input before replying.  They crowdsource from within their friend group to navigate how to best reply in cases that require finesse.

#2 – The situation dictates the communications style – Millennials text all day long for normal topics of life.  If something is exciting, Snap Chat and texting are the most common ways to express joy.  But if the subject is serious, they will call and use the phone just like boomers.

#3 – Texting is like breathing – a boomer doesn’t know how often they speak with people at work.  You just do it hundreds of times.  No one really knows the # of conversations.  Millennials feel the same way about texting.  They text so continuously during the day that it is not meaningful to ask “how many times do you text”.

#4 – Time to embrace the new dialect – the auto correction technology in phones is making it easy to develop common slang on how to communicate more effectively.  Just like Google knows what we are typing in when we search, the same is true for phones, increasingly.  Boomers would be wise to understand this language with the same intensity we want to learn about which words drive search, since the language of text and the language of search are becoming one.  Which words drive most texting conversations and how do we all speak the same language?  Said another way, Boomers, you’ve lost this one. Technology favors Millennials.  Embrace it.

#5 – Text threads are like conversations – the people who talk a lot also text in longer threads.  The people who are succinct, don’t.  Same as normal conversations in person or on the phone.  If you are a chatterbox in real life, the phone doesn’t slow you down.

#6 – Email is used for academics and work – because boomers make them use email.  Facebook, Snap Chat and texting are the preferred ways to communicate.  It’s work that moves us to email.  And such is the circle of life in technology.  A Microsoft corporate world favors boomers.  Embrace that as well.

#7 – We extend our experience via the phone – Facebook and Instagram allow us to share our lives, but it’s never clear if your key friends will see your latest experience.  The phone allows millennials to send photos and direct their experience to the friends they want to see it.  As Facebook’s algorithm gets more selective, the importance of mobile sharing increases.  Mark Zuckerberg’s acquisition of WhatsApp looks smarter every day.  Photos, by the way, are shared most often.  Videos are only shared when the topic is serious or there is more passion involved in the topic.

#8 – Millennials don’t care about privacy – it’s not a topic of concern.  In fact, many millennials share their texts with their wider group to get more input, so even the idea of 1:1 privacy is not real.  Only boomers care about privacy right now.

#9 – Group texts are for planning – just like boomers may have 3-5 groups of friends that are slightly different, so do millennials and they reserve group texting to these friend groups. Makes sense.  Just using technology better than most boomers.

#10 – Global messaging is a breakthrough – iMessage and wi-fi have made it possible to talk with friends, old and new, anywhere in the world for free.  This is opening up the world much earlier to millennials who don’t hesitate to continue their conversations and relationships with their friends as they or their families move.  Very different than boomers who rediscover long-lost friends via Facebook or reunions.

These are our top insights on texting.  Next up, we’re going to take a deeper look at Snap Chat.

Hope you enjoy,

Brittany Pearson (millennial) and Bob Pearson (boomer)