The way current research talks about millennials makes them sound like foreign lifeforms from another planet. I’ll admit, when writing about millennials, I am prone to making our demographic sound like a strange wild animal that I don’t understand—despite the fact that I am one!

Here’s the thing: We’re not strange creatures with outlandish needs or demands; we simply have grown up with amazing technology around us, and have adapted to a world that operates at a different pace.

I may be dating myself, but I remember dial-up connections, fax machines, and actual hour-long phone conversations with friends on a nightly basis. The older cohorts from our generation remember these quaint niceties, but along with the rest of the world, we realised that, while charming, these relics from the past didn’t keep with the pace that school, work and general society demands of us.

Hence, our love of mobile, social media, videos and texting.

Not sure how to connect to millennials, or why it’s important? Here are a few tips to help you.

Short & Savvy Messages Get to the Point in Real Time

@brandX, #OMG times have changed lol.

This sentence should make sense to you. If it doesn’t, then your communications standards may need fine-tuning. Yes, we are still human and speak to each other through dialogue, literature and art. But when it comes to modern ways of connecting to the online world, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so many other mobile applications have capitalised on a new standard where immediacy, impatience and real-time access are paramount.

This means:

Time Is Limited: Use Concise Wording, Online Language, Images and Videos

Recent studies have found that with the emergence of digital technology our attention spans have dropped off by a tremendous degree. In fact, the average human’s attention span now hovers at roughly 8 seconds[1] —shorter than that of a goldfish. This drop in our ability to pay attention has spawned (and some would argue, is the result of) social media applications (many of which are mobile-only or dominant). These applications use short, to-the-point messaging to get people’s opinions across, bringing rise to new communication standards like Twitter handles, hashtags and shortlinks. Likewise, the desire for reading long descriptive copy has been replaced by image and video-heavy content. In fact, in 2017, video content will represent 74% of all internet traffic, according to predictions by KPCB[2].

All of these ‘changes’ are the norm for most millennials, requiring the modernisation of technology, language and delivery of your brand messages to remain relevant and in-tune with the times. Take, for example, Coca-Cola. The brand is 130 years old, yet is still popular with our generation because it has kept pace with our communication standards, as seen in this popular Christmas tweet below[3]:

Say “Yes” to Social Media

There was a time not too long ago when companies questioned the ROI and longevity of social media. Nowadays, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find a successful brand that doesn’t have a Facebook page or who doesn’t use social media ads. Brands who accept the importance of social media are on the right track when it comes to us. Specifically, a recent study by Blackhawk Engagement Solutions found that millennials find out about products, deals and shopping news through social media (often with their phones) more than any other channel. Social media even beat Google, Amazon, retail websites, TV and website ads in this category.

Research aside, we like social media because it’s easier and cheaper than phoning friends who live far away. Not that we don’t still have meaningful phone conversations, but we don’t need to phone friends just to tell them that we’re envious of their latest restaurant adventure. In other words, it’s a good way to keep in touch for minor updates, and it also lets you open the world to acquaintances who you might not call, but like to hear about every so often. On the other side of the spectrum, for those of us looking to expand our social circles, social media is a great way to meet new people without fumbling for your words or making awkward first impressions. Are you starting to see a trend here? We like easy and we like fast—not just because it’s time-saving, but also because it lets you spend more time on the things you really love, like quality time with family (yes, many millennials are in their 30s now and are starting families).

Text, Text, Text

Texting is important to our generation. In particular:

• Text messages now outrank phone calls as the preferred communication form among millennials[4]
• Adults 18-24 send and receive 3,853 texts a month[5]
• Adults 25-34 send and receive 2,240 texts a month[6]
• Adults 35-44 send and receive 1,557 texts a month[7]
• Texting takes up 33% of millennials’ mobile usage[8]

Bearing these figures in mind, brands who want to reach us—especially when it comes to important service messages—should text. In fact, the preference for texting expands beyond millennials, with recent studies finding that 70% of customers prefer service-based messages be sent to their mobile phone[9]. Why? Because they are short and immediately notify customers of important issues and updates, from billing and service errors to customer support and feedback. However, our generation specifically prefers text communication because of its speed of use. So much so, that according to OpenMarket, 83% of us open text messages within 90 seconds of receiving them[10].

Additionally, texts can achieve up to a 48% average response rate[11], a rate that can be up to 8 times higher than that of e-mail12. Texting works because of its quickness and ability to target customers during relevant moments. For example, texts can reach customers right after they’ve had an interaction at a brick or mortar location, and depending on their experience (perhaps very good or very poor) at this location, they have an immediate gateway that lets them communicate with their brand and express their elation or disappointment—right away. The speed and relevance of this interaction achieves an outcome that email and phone just cannot surpass.

These are only a few points that speak to our generation’s way of life—but they are expanding to older and younger segments too. A broad communication shift is taking place for everyone, and millennials just happen to be the most prevalent generation right now because of our size and potential wealth. Understanding our needs shouldn’t be too foreign if you like keeping up with technology yourself, meaning that your ability to connect with us shouldn’t be a struggle. In fact, for the most innovative brands, it should be fun and cutting-edge—a challenge that builds excitement with our oh-so-handy Internet of Things, Big Data, VR and other technology that brings us into the future.

To learn more about mobile, check out our previous post ‘Why Mobile is Mandatory for Success in our Modern Era’ here.

[1] “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish.” McSpadden, Kevin. May 14, 2015.
[2] KPCB, “Internet Trends 2016­­Code Conference,” June 1, 2016.
[3] The Cocal­Cola Co., Twitter Post. December 24, 1:10 PM, 2015.
[4] Newport, Frank. “The New Era of Communication Among Americans.” November 10, 2014.
[5] “Young adults: Texting is just as meaningful as a phone call.” December 3, 2012.
[6] “Young adults: Texting is just as meaningful as a phone call.” December 3, 2012.
[7] “Young adults: Texting is just as meaningful as a phone call.” December 3, 2012.
[8] “How Mobile Use Varies Across Generations.” August 18, 2015.
[9] Vibes, “Transactional Messaging Consumer Report 2016: The Value of Service Based Mobile Messaging for the Enterprise,” 2016.
[10] SurveyMonkey on behalf of OpenMarket, “Why Millennials Prefer Two-way Texting with Business,” 2016.
[11] ResponseTek, “How Pushing Customer Feedback to the Frontline Improved Mortgage & Home Loan Conversions by 8% for a Fortune 100 Bank,” 2015.
[12] Cellit: ePrize Mobile Solutions, Releases Benchmark Mobile Marketing Study Analysing Engagement from National Retailers.” May 24, 2012.