koala bear
In these post-election days, let's distract ourselves with a baby koala. PHOTO: Jordan Whitt

It's funny how one really shocking event can minimize your simple frustration over another. 

Case in point: My attitude about Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Millennials  (but didn't care enough to ask.)

As I've said before: "Millennials aren't much different from you and me when we were the same age. They want cool jobs, big paychecks, time to party, opportunities to play as hard as they work. Big deal. Who didn't?"

Understanding Millennials

Then we had a US Presidential election that made it pretty darn clear there's a big division in peoples' attitudes, values and their willingness to base decisions on ridiculous things called "facts."

And suddenly the whole millennial thing doesn't make me grit my teeth anymore — because if 18- to 29-year-olds had voted with the same enthusiasm as people 60 and older, a different group of Americans would be slapping themselves in the face, pleading, "Wake me up!" today.

So yeah, I've flip-flopped, which is apparently socially acceptable now based on the behavior of just about every local, state and national candidates that commandeered our Facebook feeds in the past 18 months.

We gotta pay more attention to millennials (and maybe in the process persuade them to vote, but that's a conversation for another day.)

United States Elections Project
PHOTO: United States Elections Project

But let's just take it slow, and start with some recommendations about cracking the millennial code on social media from Jo Scard and her team at Fifty Acres Principal, an Australian communications agency.

Advice From Down Under

When Scard isn’t delivering strategic advice to corporations and non-profits, she said she's likely to be found walking around her fifty-acre farm near Canberra, Australia's capital. Surrounded by forest, farmland and nature reserves, Canberra is nicknamed the "Bush Capital.” 

After quickly disabusing myself of the notion that "Bush Capital" had any political meaning on another continent, I was pleasantly distracted by images of kangaroos and emus and maybe even koalas.

Yes, I concluded, a woman in the wild surrounded by amazing creatures, far away from a reality that will set the stage for some unpleasant Thanksgiving family gatherings this year, is the perfect expert to share her insights on young adults.

So here we go.

Millennials Do Things Differently

As the first generation of digital natives, Scard pointed out that millennials consume media in a way we’ve never seen before — "juggling their smartphones, laptops and tablets in a bid to stay constantly connected to information and individuals. While a cleverly executed mass media advertising campaign may have appealed to their parents and grandparents, this way of marketing won’t register a blip in the typical millennial’s radar. Instead, to make a lasting impact, businesses must turn to social media, and tap into the millennial social and cultural bubble."

Here are her four suggestions for doing just that:

  1. Be transparent … make that "uncomfortably open and honest," she said. "Not only are millennials inherently skeptical, but they are also incredibly good at identifying lies and external motives. Be personable, and show that you’re not just another organization after their business."
  2. Prioritize positive brand experiences. Millennials like businesses and brands that make the effort to get to know them and give them the opportunity to be part of an experience. Use dialogue to engage with individual users, respond to questions in a timely manner and use live video platforms like Facebook Live to invite users to interact with the brand in real time.
  3. Recognize the power of word of mouth. A KISSMetrics study found 89 percent of millennials trust the recommendations of friends and family more than claims by a brand. "Make the most of this by incorporating user-generated content in your social media campaign, and working with influencers they know and trust," she said.
  4. Get to the point … Now! Millennials are renowned for their AOADD (always on attention deficit disorder), focusing on instant gratification and multi-tasking more than any generation, she explained. Make your content short, “snackable” and accessible.

As for getting millennials to vote for President in 2020, I guess we'll need an app for that.