Five Major Millennial Misconceptions Marketers Miss

No one likes to be stereotyped  - especially not the millennial generation. Make sure to avoid these five misconceptions about millennials when developing your social media marketing strategy.

On February 21, Social Media Week New York 2014 presented a panel discussion on the “5 Ways Millennials’ Habits are Changing How Content is Made and Shared.” The panel was composed of some of the marketing industry’s brightest – from Mashable CSO Adam Ostrow to PolicyMic co-founder Chris Altchek - and we expected to hear more groundbreaking ways millennials affect our content strategy development

Au contraire. Instead, we took away these five misconceptions about millennials and what it means for marketers.

1. Milenials only care about shallow, simple content and overlook quality.

Did you notice millennial is spelled incorrectly? Apparently, neither did the person in charge of creating Social Media Week’s hashtag for this session.

Millennials have been trained to spot mistakes and call brands out on them. To quote Chris Altcheck, “[millennials] see through the bullshit.” To gain their trust, you have to be completely honest and transparent.

Millennials will also call brands out on lack of quality. You could say that millennials could be as “not impressed” as McKayla Maroney from the 2012 London Olympics with fluffy content that lacks relevancy. As a marketer, it is important to produce quality content as opposed to adding to the chatter in the social sphere. Facebook seems to agree with this quality-first approach with the recent changes in their algorithm, putting rich content (linked to sources) first.

2. Millennials don’t care about hard news…

Millennials are one of the most educated generations for their age. According to Chris Altcheck and Pew Research Center, 54 percent of millennials have a college degree, despite rising tuition prices. It’s not that millennials don’t care about hard news, but it’s about how it’s presented.  Millennials want to be entertained.

One example is the “NowThis News” VJ. That would be, Vine Journalist.

Both hard and soft news stories in 6 seconds or less, presented in an entertaining – yet, informational – way, that may inspire the user to find out more. This isn’t just a trend for millennials, this is a trend for anyone consuming information. It’s the speed of information that is changing news consumption, and the generation is adapting.

3. Millennials are fickle and don’t care about brand loyalties.

Yes, it’s true, millennials can be a bit fickle. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any brand loyalties. In fact, millennials are open to trying new trying things and adapt easily to new platforms. Brands can be a little more creative and experimental when marketing to millennials.

4. Millennials LOVE apps.

Like YouTube sensation Sweet Brown said, “ain’t nobody got time fo that!” Your mobile site isn’t responsive, so you direct your audience to download an app – you just lost your audience. Millennials want it, and they want it now. If you put an app in their face (or, iPhone screen) with the same information they can find at another source’s fully developed mobile site, they’ll go there before going to the app store. By putting a barrier to entry, such as an app pop up, you aren’t fulfilling your promise to deliver content quickly and most efficiently. Apps should exist for a service that a mobile site doesn’t provide.

5. Anyone can market to millennials and, they can all be marketed to the same way.

The millennial generation is defined by anyone born between 1980 and 2000. That’s a huge gap.  If you are not a millennial yourself, it is going to be extremely difficult to market to this generation. As one of the panelists put it, it’s the FUBU (for us, by us) mentality. Millennials can be skeptical of consuming information created by other generations.


With any new generation, marketers are going to have to adapt. With fast-paced technology and constant changes in social media, we can no longer stick to the same book that has been read for years. As marketers, we must evolve our skillsets and adjust our methods as quickly as a new generation exists. In fact, it’s probably already time to stop focusing on millennials and start paying attention to Generation Z.

Which brands have you seen successfully adapt their social media strategy to reach new generations?

 Flickr photo rights