If you ever look around and feel like everyone else is approximately 12 years old and you’re a senior citizen in comparison, then you’re not alone. People in the millennial generation are, in fact, pretty young. By definition, as per The Atlantic, they were born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s (experts cap this generation at a birth year of 2004), which means they could be in their early 30s or they could be about 12 years old. And P.S. – those 12-year-olds are probably better with an iPhone than you will ever be.
According to a recent report by the US Census Bureau, Millennials “now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Their size exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates.” What does this mean for you? It means that there are a lot of these youngsters running around and if you want to be able to stay relevant in their world, you need to keep up with them, their habits, their technological skills and their culture. Here are some tips to help you stay relevant with the millennial generation, no matter how old you may be.
Stay on Top of New Technology
One of the biggest factors that defines a generation is how they use technology. Back in the day our relatives didn’t have color TVs or computers, and today’s youth will never know what it’s like to not have a mobile phone glued to their hand at all times, or to not be able to watch any TV show on demand. Kids complain when they are in a zone without Wi-Fi, and they are accustomed to being in contact with the world at all times at the click of a button. If you want to stay relevant with the millennial generation, you need to get educated and skilled at the various technological tools that dominate their time.
It might seem easier to stick to what you know, but to compete and communicate with Millennials you need to use what they are using and get comfortable with everything from the iPhone to SnapChat. In fact, just a couple of months ago Viacom announced a deal with SnapChat that “underscores Snapchat’s rise as a video platform with scale comparable to that of TV, at least in terms of reaching Millennials and centennials. It’s also the latest step in Viacom’s aggressive push into digital and ongoing effort to stay relevant as cord cutting becomes more prevalent.” If you have no idea what SnapChat is or how it works, we’re right there with you. But we also need to hop on board that digital train because according to Tech Crunch “Snapchat’s engagement measured by video views grew massively in 2015, from 2 billion daily views in May 2015 to 7 billion daily views recently.” It’s predicted that there could be over 1 BILLION active users in the near future, and unless you want to get left behind that massive audience, you need to get involved.
Don’t be Hung up on Old Traditions or Trends
Can’t you just imagine your grandparents moaning and groaning about how “when I was a kid…blah blah blah” when you did something modern or timely? Don’t be that guy. Your kids or your new employees or that young barista at Starbucks might seem like a child who has no idea what it was like to wait for the dial-up signal to connect to AOL back in the day, but they don’t need to be reminded of how lucky they are. Instead of harping on old traditions and trends of the past, focus on learning about the new habits and the new trends that Millennials are growing up with.
Don’t Try Too Hard to be “One of Them”
While you definitely need to know what’s up, you also don’t want to act like you’re trying too hard to be one of them. Sorry to burst your delusional bubble, but you’re not a teenager any more. Maybe you’re not even in your 20s any more. Not even in your thirties? Ugh let’s stop talking about it. Bottom line: you’re not their age; so don’t try to act their age. There’s a difference between being able to relate and understand Millennials and trying really aggressively to hang out with their generation. Know the difference.
Learn Their Language (But Don’t Try to Use It)
Similarly, you need to know how Millennials communicate. We’re talking about how they actually communicate (by texting, social media messaging, SnapChat conversations, video calls, etc.) as well as what they say. Every generation has their slang and their weird words that no one else quite understands. You’ve probably heard people toss around phrases like “on fleek,” “bae,” “AF” and “perf”, and you might not know what the heck those words mean, but you need to get schooled in all things millennial slang if you want to keep up. We’re not suggesting you try to USE those sayings, because we can almost guarantee you’ll look like an a-hole. But you should definitely know what they mean.
Exercise, and try new forms of exercise
It’s no secret that exercise is a way to keep you body young, which is kinda a big deal if you want to stay relevant and keep up physically with a younger generation. Make working out a part of your regular routine, in whatever capacity that may be that makes sense to your current shape and life. And while we’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to try some new workout trends and gyms so that you have something to discuss with Millennials. They take their boutique fitness world very seriously, so it’s about time you tried that bootcamp or indoor cycling class. You’ll be sure to bump elbows with a lot of people that belong to the Millennial generation.
Millennials expect brands, people and activities to be new and exciting. They don’t want to do the same old thing. According to Scratch’s Anne Hubert in a piece published by the Yale School of Management, “brands need to be both loved and be different in order to stay appealing to Millennials.” Think of this as an opportunity to break out of your comfort zone, think outside the box and try to stay engaged with an audience who not only appreciates but expects new and groundbreaking ideas.