Recently on Medium, a 19-year-old college student from the University of Texas at Austin shared how he and his Millennial friends used and viewed social media networks. From the article:
I read technology articles … and see plenty of authors describe the teenage audience, especially in regards to social media. However, I have yet to see a teenager contribute their voice to this discussion. This is where I would like to provide my own humble opinion. For transparency, I am a 19-year-old male attending The University of Texas at Austin… I’m here to provide a different view based on my life in this ‘highly coveted’ age bracket…this is just what I’ve noticed.
Since I am a Baby Boomer and use social networks personally and professionally, I thought it might be interesting to compare my views against the Millennial and also look for marketing opportunities anyone could use along the way. Let’s start with Twitter.
Millennial: “There are then three main groups of Twitter users: the ones who use it to complain/express themselves, the ones who tweet with the assumption that their prospective employer will eventually see whatever they are saying, and the ones who simply look at other Tweets and do the occasional RT.”
Baby Boomer: Work wise, Twitter has become an automated broadcast medium for me, I use tools to pull relevant articles and tweet several times a day. I also use it for link research and to check for trending terms but personally, I find it too big, too fast and too public to carry on meaningful conversations. Most of the people I interact with personally are on Facebook.
Where we Dis/Agree: Sounds like we feel pretty much the same way about Twitter except we Boomers tend to be the employer’s Millennials are tweeting about! 😉
Millennial: “Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave….Facebook is often used by us mainly for its group functionality. …groups do not have the same complicated algorithms behind them that the Newsfeed does. It is very easy to just see the new information posted on the group without having to sift through tons of posts and advertising you don’t really care about.”
Baby Boomers: I belong to a number of Facebook groups on a wide variety of topics and love the information and comradery they provide. I also maintain a personal and business page which means I’m keeping up multiple accounts whereas Millennial Man maintains one. I post on my business page daily, my personal page twice a week and spend at least an hour a day keeping up with family and friends.
Where we Dis/Agree: We both like and use groups and feel the news feed is annoying, but this Boomer also sees the Newsfeed as a research and marketing tool. Ads are a pain but professionally, Facebook’s Ad Program can be a real boon in promoting your business. I have no issues or embarrassments with maintaining a Facebook page for personal reasons, I like keeping up with people I know and view it as an easy way to stay connected.
Millennial: “Facebook gets all of the photos we took — the good, the bad, etc—while Instagram just gets the one that really summed up the event we went to. It is much more selective, and honestly, people spend more time on the captions to make them relevant/funny.”
Baby Boomers: One of my resolutions for the new year was to get more involved on Pinterest and Instagram especially after reading several reports on the growth of both.
My use of Pinterest and Instagram puts me in the minority when it comes to most Boomers I know outside of search marketing. My offline friends tend to use Flickr and Shutterfly to store photos and while a number of girlfriends love Pinterest for finding recipes, they don’t build boards or share photos there.
From a professional standpoint, I like the idea you can connect your Instagram page to your Facebook business page, gives you another way to drive traffic and build a brand. And I like putting effort between both Instagram and Pinterest given they share similar demographics, cuts down on marketing research and resources.
Pinterest recently purchased a recommendation startup called Kosei, their technology will help make “highly personalized and powerful product recommendations”. Gold for anyone already established on Pinterest.
Where We Dis/Agree: We both like captions under our photos although for different reasons, Millennials want funny, this Boomer wants marketing descriptive.
[Tip] Iconosquare, an analytics program for Instagram tells you which photo is driving the most engagement, tracks shares and likes. No charge.
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[Tip] Did you happen to catch this article showing how Ikea developed a website inside of Instagram? That is pretty amazing and could be the start of a new marketing trend.
Millennial: “I wouldn’t say a lot of “socializing” — at least in the way we’ve defined it in our social media society—occurs on the site, but people can really easily meet others worldwide who hold similar interests.”
Baby Boomer: I have worked with a lot of companies who have Tumblrs in addition to blogs, Facebook Business Pages, and a Google+ presence, they are in art, food, retail, motion picture and photography niches. If you have a lot of visual content and make it easy to share, Tumblr might be an option for you. Take a look how Coke, LLBean and Disney use Tumblr, very creative with little promotion.
Where we Dis/Agree: I know several people who maintain a Tumblr for professional reasons but don’t know anyone online or off that keeps one for personal reasons. Brands and large companies flourish on Tumblr for good reason, they have the staff to maintain another presence. Small business? Not so much. If you have a visual product and want to interact with a younger crowd, Tumblr might be an option but be prepared to spend time maintaining another site.
Millennial: “What Medium does right is the “recommend” function. This is unseen on WordPress (besides the typical website sharing buttons) and is really what makes Medium a community, not just a bunch of individual sites.”
Baby Boomer: I can safely say none of my offline friends know about Medium. I became aware of it last year, it strikes me as a thought provoking Blogger with an artsy-fartsy air. Lots of great photos and stories by some very talented people can be found on Medium, I love it (and Vox.com) for distraction reading.
Where We Dis/Agree: I agree with Millennial Man, one of the best things about this site is the recommend feature and the exposure a post gets from being a staff pick. But I have to wonder if this site will take off and go mainstream with boomers, millennials or anyone since the level of awesome seems pretty high. The demand for quality plus a bias for posts published frequently means anyone trying to be recommended and picked by staff will have to work. hard. for. it. Really hard. Can either group really afford the time to work on another site? I’m not so sure.
Millennial: “For an avid internet user it’s almost impossible to ignore YouTube. The content is not only entertaining but also extremely helpful; there have been many classes where I have needed supplementary help on YouTube to understand the material.”
Baby Boomer: Ditto for me, YouTube is a terrific teacher. I also use it to catch up on TV shows and as a research tool professionally. I think this is a content frontier many businesses need to explore.
Where We Dis/Agree: No disagreements here!
Millennial: “Vine is an application where I feel a lot of people in my group consume content but do not necessarily make content.”
Baby Boomers: I mostly see Vine’s embedded in sales emails, they were prevalent around the holidays. Other than that? Don’t really notice them.
Where We Dis/Agree: No disagreements here!
Millennial: “I know a ton of people who visit Reddit on a daily basis (an hourly basis for some) to find all of the hottest news on the web”
Baby Boomer: Like Medium, most of my offline friends don’t know about or use Reddit. Online friends and business associates know about it but very few are heavy or even moderate users. Reddit is a great place to mine for content topics and trending ideas but other than that, not a site I frequent mostly because I see way too many articles like this one.
Where We Dis/Agree: I don’t know anyone who uses Reddit as a news outlet, even the “power users” I know use Reddit mainly as a promotional tool.
On Google +
Millennial: “I personally do not know anyone who actively uses Google+. I’ve heard from some friends that Google+ is really awesome for photos and Hangouts, but that’s about it. My only friends on Google+ are those who are more interested in technology.”
Baby Boomer: Everyone in my on and the offline world knows about Google Plus, I use it mainly to participate in Communities and search for leads.
Where We Dis/Agree: Agree that Hangouts are a great tool but technology isn’t the only niche hanging on Google Plus. Surprisingly, Facebook has the biggest community followed by Instagram and YouTube. Photography and travel rank in the top ten so if you have a site in any of those areas, Google Plus might be a good place for you to mine for marketing opportunities.
[Tip] Circle Count is an analytic tool that pulls the number of people in a Google Plus circle by topic, shows +1’s and comment counts. An easy way to see who is a power user, no charge.
Millennial: “What drives a lot of my usage of the site are the semi-weekly email reminders. This gives me not only an overview of popular questions within my specific topic interests but also tells me about popular questions throughout the network in general.”
Baby Boomer: Hello, are you really only 19 years old? Who thinks about email reminders at your age? 🙂
Where We Dis/Agree: All kidding aside, his point is a good one and I completely agree; Quora is a solid site to pull information from. People seem genuinely interested in providing good answers and citing sources, you can get feedback on almost any topic under the sun. Great place to mine for content ideas.
There might be 37 years of age difference between us but surprisingly we seem to exploit social networks for the same two reasons: information and promotion. Doesn’t matter if you’re promoting an emotion, a piece of content, or directions to the next kegger, social networks are a primary source of getting what you want.
Added: The good folks over on Raven Blog posted an article on Millennials the day after I did mine, great blogging minds think alike 😉 It’s a good read, enjoy! How Millennials Can Prove Their Social Media Skills
Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, a link building company in business since 2001 focused on providing relevant lists of sources and media outlets to content developers.When she's not working for Alliance-Link, Debra can be found refinishing furniture or working in her garden.