Writing For Millennials

May 10, 2006

Yo dawgs! What’s the yam? We be hittin’ up these millennials for their spare change! FIRE.

Kill me.

You don’t have to write like you’re straight outta Compton circa 1989 to engage with millennials these days. At Mustard, we work with many youth brands and we think they deserve more credit than what the media give them. Sure, they experiment with stupid filters on Snapchat and sometimes have indecipherable conversations, but we think they are the best market to advertise to.

Why’s that? Millennials are the least trusting of traditional advertising, so as an agency we continually have to expand our thinking to get their attention. It can be challenging but creative at the same time, and it pays off when you have a group of teenage girls telling you they love your brand with a smiley moon emoji in a group conversation about how Jess betrayed Brydie at her own birthday (OMGGG! DEVO. Is that creepy of me? Oops).

You should start paying attention to millennials – even if they are “debt-ridden”, they now make up over20% of the Australian consumer market – that’s 4.2 million Australians! And yes, they do actually earn money: More than half (59 percent) of the Millennials surveyed for a study by AIMIA claim they have earnings of more than AUD $50,000, with more than a quarter earning…wait for it…$100,000. As our boomer generation gets inevitably older, retired and less influential, brands will need to start looking to these younger, tech savvy youths.

Here’s a few tips we’ve picked up when writing for millennials. Read away and get ready for the influx of adoring group messages (oh yeah, and some new customers).

Cater for short attention spans

When you’re competing for Facebook news feed space against Doug The Pug and viral Vine videos, you have to keep things short, sharp and snappy. Millennials have a high bounce rate and are not afraid to abandon your website in a heartbeat, so write in short, concise sentences that engage with them (they’ve grown up with Twitter after all). You don’t have to speak in slang (although that helps); remember, they are the most educated generation OF ALL TIME; but think about what resonates with this age group the most. Think outside their obvious spiraling HECS debt, laziness and entitledness; millennials have much more depth and substance than what traditional media stereotypes them to (okay this is written by a millennial but I’m being honest here!).

This type of writing will also help with mobile optimisation too, which is kind of a big deal these days.

Break it up with sub headings

Contrary to popular belief, millennials actually do read. The New York Times report that 15-24 year olds spend on average 50 minutes a day reading and pursuing other interests, compared to 25-64 year olds who spend just 32 minutes. However millennials read quite differently. Author Don Tapscott, in his book Grown Up Digital, comments that millennials have developed terrific scanning skills:

“Digital immerision has given the Net Generation the visual skills that make them superior scanners. They’ve learned to develop the filters they need to sort out what’s important from what’s not.”

Millennials are looking for relevant information. The best way to write engaging pieces for the “scanning generation” is to break up text with engaging subheadings (bolded). Their eyes will be immediately drawn to the headings as they scan, and if the subheadings are engaging enough, the rest of your content will be read.

A clean webpage design also doesn’t hurt; this will assist the millennial in scanning and obtaining the information they need in an efficient way.

Factor in their global mindset

Millennials are travelling more than ever before, and 68% of them consider travelling an important part of their life. So, you could say they are a cultured bunch, and will probably get your very country specific slang. Don’t worry: they WILL get you…or at least will Google it after. Got an Internet term you have come across in the past day? Use it. As long as it’s fresh “AF”, you will probably get away with it and engage your audience. Millennials crave a warm, friendly, engaging brand voice, and using viral slang or an Internet famous phrase is one way to do this.

Be egalitarian

In other words: don’t be a dickhead. Millennials think of everyone as equal these days (well, except for maybe this one millennial), and take huge offence if you hate on (either direct or indirectly): race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other millennials. Love everyone and the youngsters will come in droves. But maybe don’t love this guy. Please, don’t.