Socrates’ rant gets raised about this time every year during high school and college graduations, the message being that society has survived and flourished under constant waves of younger generations and will continue to do so.
The Millennials—those born between 1980 and 2000—are getting most of the attention now. Businesses want to know what makes them tick. What interests them? What do they buy? How can we get them to buy what we’re selling? How will they impact our society in the years ahead?
Having read quite a few studies about Millennials, I’m encouraged by their potential. True, they tend to want what they want right now—but then, what young person hasn’t been that way?
Notably, they are a generation raised with and comfortable with technology, yet they aren’t necessarily quick to reject the past. Case in point: This fascinating study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which found that Millennials love printed books and libraries as much as they love their smartphones and iPads.
“Younger Americans were significantly more likely to have read an e-book during 2012 than a year earlier,” the report states. “At the same time, however, print reading among younger Americans has remained steady. … In fact, younger Americans under age 30 are now significantly more likely than older adults to have read a book in print in the past year.”
What this tells me is that Millennials see value in the content of information, not merely in its delivery system.
As an author, I’m relieved—seeing my words in print on a bookshelf still trumps seeing them on my Kindle.
And as a communicator, I’m willing to apply this insight to a broader canvas.
Communicators make a mistake when they favor delivery over content. Too many of us talk about “Twitter this” and “viral that” without thinking strategically about the most effective way to share the message with the right audience. Maybe social media is the way to go, maybe it’s part of the mix, or maybe it’s the wrong method entirely. (*gasp*)
Instead of limiting ourselves to the latest shiny tech tool, let’s keep all the tools within reach and be strategic in their use--the right ones for the right job.
Young and old alike are paying attention, and not always in the ways we assume.