When I was growing up a popular show on PBS had a song that teased “one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same.” It’s becoming clear that etiquette, common sense and social media just do not belong in the same sentence and it is affecting the one of the most etiquette-focused areas of the business world: the job interview.
Yes, the “I can’t believe somebody actually did that” HR files include job candidates who have texted or accepted cell phone calls while in an interview, according to this story from USA Today.
Normally I’d take the time to tell you how the generational norms make this understandable, but today I’ve got nothing. Well, that’s not true. I can tell you where it comes from but that still doesn’t tell you why they don’t know any better. Sometimes I do join you in SMH. (That’s text for “shaking my head.”)
And for the younger folks out there reading this – turn off the phone when you walk into an interview. It’s that simple.
The disparity in wealth between Baby Boomers and Millennials is changing the demographics of restaurant clientele. In the past, older generations were more apt to cook and eat at home while younger generations preferred the luxury and convenience of eating out. Now the Boomers, a generation that came of age during the explosion of chain restaurants and fast food, dominate the restaurant market even as they near retirement. Meanwhile, Millennials who still like the convenience of dining out don’t have the means to do it.
Even as Millennials grow into adulthood, jobs, and careers, the number of them patronizing restaurants is declining, not advancing. It’s decreased 6% since 2008. On the other side of the spectrum, the oldest Boomers are now the leading patrons of restaurants, visiting them 220 times a year on average, according to a new NPD report.
The study’s authors say the equation is simple, Boomers have the money to eat out and Millennials don’t. Their suggestion for restaurateurs who want to attract Millennials is to adopt a social media strategy.
Millennials are fond of “causes,” charities, philanthropies, non-profits, etc., and are responsive to cause-based marketing. But fundraisers for actual causes can find it difficult to solicit donations from a generation that has very little money. Thus, it’s hard to translate Millennials’ enthusiasm for global and community aid and movements into real benefits for charitable organizations.
However, one clean water charity seems to have found a way to channel Millennial enthusiasm into real donations: it turns them into social media fundraisers. Mycharitywater.org found that what Millennials lack in funds, they can make up for with their fondness for social media and brand enthusiasm.
Mycharity:water allows users to generate their own fundraising campaigns – kind of like a Facebook page – that they can customize and promote on social networks. Now, Millennial users who would have trouble coughing up a hundred bucks for a cause are generating gifts in the thousands using their own creativity and contacts. The idea hits on many Millennial touchstones: social media, customization, individuality, brand evangelism, and community. And it’s worked. Mycharity:water has generated $20 million since it started up.
The recent Intelligence Group survey of Millennials found that they interact with candidates and political parties in the same way the interact with their favorite brands: through causes and social media.
In Millennials, the president of the Group sees “little distinction between airing their support for a candidate, a cause, a team, a movie, a birthday, or a pair of shoes they’ve purchased.” Indeed, brand loyalty and brand evangelism expressed through social media channels are key Millennial consumer traits that shape their political activity. Two-thirds of them said in the survey that social media activism was more effective at creating change than traditional forms of political activity.
Engaging Millennial consumers through an effective social media presence is a key part of any branding strategy and was clearly an integral part of the success of the 2008 Obama campaign. It remains an edge in the incumbent’s favor: The Klout score, a measure of social media influence, for the incumbent is 99 (out of 100), higher than Lady Gaga, Twitter, or Nike. Since 2008, other political “brands” have learned to use social media effectively to target Millennials (the Crossroads Generation and Generation Opportunity sites are great examples). Their task is to “catch up” with the brand that got to digital natives on their home turf first.
Millennials are finding it tough to land jobs and it’s not just because of the economy. In many cases, they may be their own worst enemies in the application and interview processes. Recruiting firm Adecco surveyed hiring managers and found them more likely to hire Boomers than Millennials, in many cases because of the mistakes that Millennials make when applying and interviewing.
Managers surveyed were three times more likely to hire a Boomer than a Millennial and they weighed in on the key mistakes that Millennials are making. The top mistake Millennials make is wearing inappropriate attire to an interview, according to 75% of the managers. Shorts and flip flops were named as examples. Just behind that on the list was inappropriate social media content. 70% of managers reported seeing offensive or compromising photos or personal information posted by Millennial applicants on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Only 19% of Boomer applicants seem to have that problem.
Other common mistakes included not doing enough research or preparation for an interview (62%) and failure to ask questions of interviewers, both of which betray a lack of motivation and interest. Finally, many hiring managers (57%) find Millennials applicants to be overconfident in their abilities and qualifications, perhaps not surprising in the “self esteem” generation.
Baby Boomers give the most positive online ratings, Gen Xers the most negative ones, and Millennials fall in the middle, according to a Bazaarvoice study of 6 million online opinions. A majority of all generations are now online and all participate in reviewing and rating products on web sites. In fact, 82% of all online reviews and ratings are positive, according to the study.
Baby Boomers now make up the largest group of online reviewers at 45%. They are also the most likely to give the highest (5-star) ratings to products. Not surprisingly, Gen Xers tend to be the harshest critics and are the most likely to give the lowest (1-star) ratings. Millennials are decidedly middle-of-the-road, giving the most 3-star ratings but the fewest 1- or 5-star ratings.
The differences in the groups’ rating tendencies are slight, ranging from about 3-7% in each case. But they do suggest generational differences in approaches to online rating and reviewing, which are now key referral sources for almost any product, whether sold online or off.
Millennials share a few common characteristics but can’t all be lumped together and stereotyped, according to study by the Boston Consulting Group. “The Millennial Consumer: Debunking Stereotypes” is based on a survey of 4,000 Millennials and 1,000 from older generations.
The study found a few shared traits, most notably an affinity for technology, that confirmed existing stereotypes. Millennials are significantly more likely, in some cases by a margin of 2-to1 to use various tech devices than non-Millennials. Other well-known traits that showed up in the survey include Millennials’ preference for convenience and efficiency, for peer input and social interaction, and for altruistic causes.
On the other hand, the survey also found some substantial divergence among Millennials from both stereotypes and from one another. The study identifies 6 distinct Millennial personalities: the Hip-ennial (“I can make the world a better place,” 29%), the Millennial Mom (“I love to work out, travel, and pamper my baby,” 22%), the Anti-Millennial (“I’m too busy taking care of my business and my family to worry about much else,” 16%), the Gadget Guru (It’s a great day to be me,” 13%), the Clean and Green (“I take care of myself and the world around me,” 10%), and the Old-School (“Facebook is too impersonal, let’s meet up for coffee!” 10%). Details about each type and about the study are available at the study’s home page (free registration).
The Millennials are the connected generation. Statistics show them to be early adopters and avid users and consumers of all kinds of communication technology including texting, social networking, email, blogging, smartphones, etc. Now, the Pew Center is asking how all of that “hyperconnectivity” will affect the generation’s personality.
Pew surveyed over a thousand internet experts about the long term effect of hyperconnectivity on Millennials. 42% saw at least one significant downside: Millennials will be apt to make poorly informed decisions based on shallow or incorrect information the get from the internet or their connected peers. On the other hand, 55% believed Millennials would eventually hone their ability to sift the good from the bad in the digital world they live in – and will thus eventually be able to find better answers than older generations.
The study even coined an acronym for the apparent learning disability of the distracted, short-attention-span, hyperconnected Millennials: A.O.A.D.D. for “Always-On Attention Deficit Disorder.” However, several experts pointed out that this problem is not restricted to Millennials. Other generations are quickly becoming just as connected, and as distracted.
According to the Pew Center’s latest look at social media, Baby Boomers and Matures are now the demographics driving explosive growth in social networking, while Millennials’ use of such sites has flattened. While social networking sites are still enormously popular among Millennials – 83% use them – growth in their popularity within the younger demographic has stalled, and even declined over the past year (from 86%). On the other hand, the growth in the use of social media among older generations has been as phenomenal as it was among Millennials just a few years ago. Over the past two years, social networking has doubled among Baby Boomers and risen by 150% among matures.
For the first time since Pew has examined the issue, a majority (51%) of Baby Boomers are using social networking sites, up from 11% three years ago. And while just a third of Matures are currently using social media, that’s up from 7% in 2008. These growth rates mirror the explosive adoption of social media by Millennials from 2005-2007.
The graying of social media has obvious ramifications for the networks themselves. They will have to adapt to a new demographic mix of users and may find that some sites appeal to certain generations more than others. (Already, for example, Twitter is the most popular among Gen X while Facebook is tops among Boomers.) Marketers and sellers who are oriented to older generations should also take note: social media strategies are not just for reaching teenagers anymore.
Marketers and businesses trying to reach Millennials know by now that the generation they seek lives in a digital world. If you want to be noticed by Millennials, you must reach them where they are: online, social networks, email, instant messaging, etc. However, connecting with Millennials on their turf has proved to be a fruitless quest for many. The online world is littered with websites and Facebook pages that are unnoticed by their target audience. Now, a study from MTV offers insights into Millennials’ digital habits, or “what makes them click.”
The study shows that Millennials’ digital habits are not just a matter of media consumption, but rather have created a culture unto itself. So the first tip offered by the authors of the study is to follow the etiquette of that culture. For example, do not “overshare” on social networks or Millennials are apt to “hide” your “feed,” i.e., your message will no longer reach them. The second tip is that Millennials should be able to use your brand as a “proxy.” In other words, if they like and identify with the style or message of your branding, they will use it to express themselves to others, sharing your brand in the process.
Third, you should “curate” your online identity like a Millennial. Keeping it “up to date” doesn’t mean keeping the information current. It means keeping it interesting, cool, ever changing, and associated with symbols that represent the brand in a way that attracts interest. Google’s variation of its homepage logo is a perfect example. The fourth tip is that your brand should develop a “feedback loop.” Millennials respond to digital feedback. If they post something, you post in response. They’re likely to post again and keep returning to your brand for more feedback.
Finally choose the right medium. According to one millennial, “sending an email is like going out to dinner and Facebook is like getting coffee or just seeing someone at the store.” Are you using the appropriate platform for your product and your relationship with your target audience? If not, you might be scaring them off rather than attracting them to you.
One of the study’s authors has summarized its findings in Advertising Age here: