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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Much – the 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.
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.
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.
Erin 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Unpluggedis 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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 🙂
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.
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.
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 Clear – Snapchat 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.
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”.
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.
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
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.
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.