Speak to a marketing professional – particularly one in the B-to-B space – and at some point they will tell you that content is king. What does that have to do with Millennials? Well, if content is king – then the creation of content is currency. Millennials, who are typically in the early stages of their careers, are not frequently in the position to be the valued thought leaders of a company. And yet, they do bring value to the content game.
A recent piece on Huffington Post highlights this reality. Millennials may not bring the earned industry knowledge to the table right away, but they are natural masters of the universe where content is most important – social media. And while this piece talks about letting Millennials be thought leaders in the social realm, I think there is something to be considered when social is not the business, but the medium. You see, Millennials don’t have to learn social, they are social. Navigating the social universe is nearly second nature, which means that Millennials are the perfect complement to the Boomer experts that are probably at the core of your content or thought leadership strategy.
Working together, Millennials and Boomers can deliver a powerful combination of earned industry knowledge and comfort with the medium. And in the process, the old-fashioned mentor-apprentice develops behind the scenes, which, in turn positions the Millennial to be industry thought leader of the future.
And there goes Gen X, getting lost in the shuffle again…
If Gen X put buying power in the hand of the consumer – relying more on independent research and word of mouth referrals from friends than on company-crafted advertising – then Millennials are putting it in the hands of everyone. That is, not just their family and friends, but their Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc. In fact, according to NBC News, a recent study conducted by eBay indicated that 20% of young motorists would be willing to conduct a car purchase entirely via a mobile device.
While that may be a more extreme stance, the survey results underscore the younger generations’ willingness to rely on peer reviews and mobile communications alike. These are relatively new buying behaviors that should change the way companies look at engaging with younger generations. From what they drive to where they eat to who they work for – this is a collaborative generation that is always on the move.
This can mean a seismic shift in the way some traditional business activity occurs. Is your company effectively using mobile channels for recruiting? Internal communications? Customer service?
You have to appreciate the irony of a totally younger generation communication tool being used to explain an older generation. Check out this info graphic/comic that attempts to convince advertisers and businesses that their traditional target demographics are not aligned with the actual buying power in the country today.
There are so many things I love about this. As I mentioned, an info graphic is such a Gen X and Millennial way of looking at things – content may be king, but only if it is entertaining! And yet the comic styling is classic Boomer. It really is brilliant piece. And so is the point being made – Boomers are still holding the purse strings in this country and will for years to come.
What this graphic doesn’t touch on, however, is how intertwined Boomer spending is with the desires and priorities of the younger generations. Millennials, especially, have tremendous influence on the purchases of Boomers. So perhaps the advertising world doesn’t actually have it so wrong?
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).