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How to Treat Millennials Like Humans

How to Treat Millennials Like Humans

September 12, 2013

Whether you like to classify the millennial generation as Gen Y, or toss around that hipster word, remember that we’re people too. According to Nielson, Millennials are most broadly defined as ages 19 – 36. And just because our digital behavior differs from other generations, and we’re a tough target for marketers, doesn’t mean that our culture and habits should be scrutinized like we’re animals in a zoo.

And while you can find ways to reverse mentor with millennials, building relationships with an untethered generation can sometimes feel like more art than science.


Yes, it’s entertaining to poke fun at our generation. We pretend as if the 20th century never happened (the 1890s is when the action really happened, anyway). But it’s also just plain smart to listen, understand and communicate in a way that makes sense.

After all, Millennials shape the future of business. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, authors of Millennials Rising, refer to us as the next great generation.” And it’s not just because our leadership style is open by default.

Here are some tips to communicate better and build an audience with the Millennial generation:

1. Use visuals + compelling content

According to Pew Internet Research, Instagram resonates with Millennial consumers more than any other age group. And while posting incessant selfies may be a right of passage for some, being self-aware enough to put selfie rules in place is always smart.163217854

Millennials are resisting targeted advertising. And we’re having fun while we’re at it. Can you blame us?

This is yet another reason why outsourcing content is smart. It humanizes your marketing in a way that advertising can’t do.

2. Nuance matters

Hone in and get meta in your conversations. Take into consideration the gender divide reaching male vs. female millennial. It tells your story with more impact.

3. Don’t try too hard.

Campbell’s Soup conducted an extensive field study to better understand Millennials. But more often than not, the proof isn’t in the soup, it’s in the pudding (and frequently in the process).

According to a survey done by the USC Annenberg Center for Digital Future and Bovitz Inc., Millennials are more willing to allow access to their personal data and a greater interest in cooperating with Internet businesses, as long as they receive tangible benefits in return.

Listen to online conversations. Embrace this new reality to process all the proof you need.