On Millennials: Communication and Engagement are Smaller Parts of a Larger Equation
As Elite Daily continues on its current trajectory of growth, we find ourselves in a unique position within the digital media industry. With our predecessors leading the way in redefining digital content, virility and brand engagement, we have noticed that most — if not the majority — of their engagement is measured in one dimension: social media.
Communication and engagement strategies are ever-evolving, especially in digital media, in which trending topics shift in a matter of minutes. Digital media platforms, including Elite Daily, are currently utilizing an outdated model of measuring engagement, which focuses on conversation rates, amplification and cost per thousand (CPMs). We have recognized that these vehicles of engagement and communication are heavily tilted to favor the advertiser.
For the purposes of this explication, let’s define engagement in its current form. Engagement, in essence, is an emotive reaction to a form of communication, whether positive or negative. In other words, when we publish a piece of content, we will consequently elicit a reaction from our audience. This reaction comes in the digital form of a comment, a tweet and/or a Facebook share.
Being the Voice of Gen-Y, with a community of 2,500+ contributors and 54 Million unique visitors, we carry a major obligation that is immeasurable by any metric or analytic to our community of readers. Our number one priority is communication and engagement with our audience, which, similar to our content, is always evolving.
As the media of content delivery continue to evolve, we have undertaken the responsibility to pioneer innovative ways in which our community and audience might engage with our content. We are creating new methods to fulfill the needs of our clients, while simultaneously keeping our company’s commitment to put the reader first.
Through our commitment of delivering content that Millennials resonate and engage with, we have identified four “ingredients” we would recommend for media companies to adopt when trying to capture the time and attention of Millennials.
1. Be Authentic
Millennials have an uncanny ability to decipher when content is genuine or when it’s selling them something beyond the thesis statement of a piece. Media companies need to understand that the Millennial demographic thrives in transparency, whether it is with friends and family or with the content they resonate with. Authenticity is an essential part of content because it is the main driver of engagement. If a specific topic resonates with the reader, he or she, in turn, is more likely to engage with the content and share it with his or her network.
2. Tell a Story, Don’t Spit Out Information
It is easy to convey facts and opinions in content; the ability to tell a story about said facts and opinions is a completely different ball game. For example, raw data concerning the student loan debt are quite simple to state: 40 million Americans are responsible for 1.2 trillion dollars worth of student loan debt. If we take that information and weave in a personal narrative about how a Millennial utilized and leveraged his knowledge of congressional bills so that he was able to refinance his loans and pay them off in 24 months, we have found a story worth engaging with. Why? It’s simple: It resonates with people. Readers like to engage with content that resonates with their personal stories and reinforces the notion that they are not the only ones going through specific stages in their lives.
3. Cater to the Individual
The Millennial generation is composed of millions of people who love their individual fashions, opinions and lifestyles. Never has another generation driven individualism the way Millennials do. It is important to make sure that the content media companies are producing caters to the individual as much as the masses. Yes, this is a difficult task, but not an impossible one. In order for readers to engage with content, they must first relate to it. Being vague and providing a “one size fits all” content strategy is an ineffective delivery approach if you are looking to engage with Millennials. Create content that resonates with the individual, and the masses will follow.
4. Create Value
As digital media pioneers into new and unexplored frontiers, the industry has to continue to create value for its audience. When producing content, media companies should be asking themselves:
• “How will this create value for the reader?”
• “Will the reader be more informed because of this content?”
• “What value are we providing to our reader beyond x and y?”
• “Will the reader be inclined to share this?”
• “Would I, personally, share this?”
• “Does this create value for our brand as a whole?”
As we pioneer digital media and content engagement, it is important to keep optimizing engagement. Communication has been a necessary part of the human condition since the dawn of time, and though its forms and tools have clearly evolved, the underlying notion has remained the same.
We are not in a position to dictate how other companies should be thinking about their communication/engagement strategies; it is simply not our prerogative. Rather, we can provide some guidance in engaging Millennials through what has worked for Elite Daily.
In one sentence, I can sum up the strategy for the future of content communication/engagement: Put the reader first.
 August 2014 Google Analytics Report
David Arabov is CEO and Managing Editor of Elite Daily. While studying at Pace University, David started Elite Daily as an online publication that “Millennials can’t get enough of,” as Business Insider described it. Elite Daily has quickly become one of the most popular sites on the web, due to David’s understanding of the void in the marketplace for content specific to this generation, written by this generation. The site reaches over 40 million people a month and employs over 35 Millennials.
Next: From Story Told to Story Lived by Darren “Daz” McColl, Global Chief Brand Strategy Officer, SapientNitro