How to Communicate with Millennials
A special note to Gen-X‘rs… and Marketers
“I’ll be interested, if you’ll be interesting.” — Victor Lee, Vice President of Digital for Hasbro
My name’s Balind. I’m in my 30's.
I’m not technically a millennial but I share similarities.
If you were to call my phone right now the chances of me answering are zero, because I’m writing this article. Unless you texted me 5 minutes ago to tell me you’re calling and more importantly why you’re calling.
That why is important — because my time is important… to me.
Millennials are used to being in full control of their time.
Let’s say I answer your call. Please, please… tell me why you’re calling right away. I need to know!
- Do you need something?
- Do you have information for me?
- Just want to catch up?
I just need to feel in control of my time.
Communicating with a Millennial is the same as Marketing to a Millennial — be interesting and be quick about it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have their attention by default.
My girlfriend used to call me while she was saying goodbye to someone she was physically with at that moment, as though I would just hang out for a minute while she finished her conversation.
We’re not together any more.
Other times she would call me with nothing specific to talk about, she just wanted to hear my voice.
Just text me, and you can see my text.
I’m what’s known as a millenial-cusp — a young Gen-X who was an early adopter of all things digital. I grew up with the internet but remember what it was like before Facebook existed, barely.
I can tell when I’m speaking with an older Gen-X because they feel the need to have a beginning and an end to our conversation.
In my world, I connect, I have moments, I keep going —it’s a never-ending conversation that may span media types and will continue through the life-span of our friendship — no need for a big ‘hello’, or ‘goodbye’.
Type Shorter Sentences
And speak faster
Millennials are bred to switch their focus instantly. If you’re a Gen-X or above — there’s a good chance you literally talk too slow to keep their interest. You might think they’re dumb — but really they just stopped paying attention to you because you took too long to get to the point.
I’m not kidding.
Ever watch a movie from the 90's that you heard was really good? I’d be willing to bet it wasn’t as good as you hoped?
What may have captivated audiences in the 90's feels super fake now, right? That’s the impact reality TV has had on filmmaking — everything has to feel more genuine and move much, much faster.
Next time you watch a more contemporary movie like “The Wolf of Wall Street”, take notice of how much faster the pace is. That’s the difference between your slow speech pattern and a millennials mental processing power.
Give Them Control
They’re not a captive audience
This is the difference between traditional and digital advertising.
Millennials self-select their experiences and engage with media when they want to. They’re in full control of their time and attention.
If you’re chatting with a millennial, allow them to end the conversation at any time — or they won’t enjoy talking to you. There’s potentially more interesting streams of conversation taking place on their mobile device, which is in their hand… so close, so easy to look at.
Stop thinking you have a captive audience. Get to the point fast and do it in an interesting way. Unless they’re not providing you with that same courtesy.
Your Words are Content
That’s right — content. The words you are speaking are short forms of content.
You’re competing with their social graph that’s available to them at all times. To truly connect, you need to cut through the noise with some really compelling content.
Learn to write a tweet-lengthed opinion about something relevant in culture. Once you’re good at that, apply that knowledge toward all your communication.
Millennials are always trying to have their messages Liked or Shared.
The quickest way to connect with millennials is to start posting on social media with the intention of getting Liked or Shared.
That will get you in the frame of mind.
You’re welcome, dad. ;)
Follow me on Twitter: @BalindSieber
Got a POV on communicating with Millennials? Write a response below.