How to write for millennials

For the second time in a week, please welcome back the intrepid Jackson Rawlings. Last time he told us, er, older types in no uncertain terms how not to write for millennial audiences, and this week shares some further thoughts on we can do it right – if we want to be on the same wavelength. Pin back your ears (or eyes, anyway…) Sz x

Article on writing for millennialsI often get asked about the how to approach writing for millennials. Most likely because: a) I’m a writer and b) I’m a millennial. Makes sense, huh?

People ask me “should I write short pieces? Should I use jokes and memes?”

First of all, no. Or at least, probably no.

The assumption is writing for millennials is an entirely different game to writing for other audiences.

The truth is, my mind works in much the same way as yours. I like things that are good, I dislike things that are bad. Things that make me feel good I tend to keep on with. Things that make me feel bad I tend to disregard. If you remember that basic philosophy, then you’re on the right path.

Of course, I’ve grown up in a world totally different to that of my parents and grandparents, and so the way I interact with the world is bound to be a little different to theirs.

So while I’d suggest that you shouldn’t think about writing for millennials as a significantly different prospect from writing for Boomers or GenXers, there are some key considerations you can factor in to make your words better resonate with us under 35s.

Authenticity

Perhaps more so than other generations, millennials demand authenticity from the content they consume.

Showy, superficial, clickbait content may work to grab us, but you won’t hold us for long.

And because there’s so much of that type of content out there, it will be a fight just to be heard over the noise.

Understand how to tell your story and your truth, whether you’re an author, a blogger or a business writer.

And I don’t mean baring your soul type honesty. Just cut the crap. We’ve honed our bullshit detectors, and we can sniff out fake, salesy or stilted writing instantly.

Be honest with why and how you communicate with us, and you’ll get a much better response in return.

Informality

For better or worse, the web has propagated a less-formal, more conversational writing style.

We now expect even CEOs of multinational corporations to Tweet to us as if they’re our mates down the pub.

Of course, there’s a fine line. We want a friendly, approachable, and if appropriate, jokey tone. We don’t want text speak, and probably not emojis either.

What does this mean in practice? Contractions are fine. The odd contextual use of slang is okay. Write how you would talk to a friend — not your best friend, but maybe someone you see a couple of times a year — and you’ll be fine.

Informative

To be millennial is to bombarded with information. But there’s a reason for this. It works. We want to be informed. We want to learn.

Think about how you could write not just to entertain or to sell a product, but to inform.

For a great example of this kind of content, check out Brain Pickings, or Uber Facts.

Understanding

Millenials are often dismissed as snowflakes, but there’s a difference between being offended by everything (I know there are some people like this) and recognising the need for sensitivity and compassion.

What this means in practice is writing with some consideration for how it will impact others.

I’m not suggesting you censor yourself, but if the way you write is spiteful or hateful to minorities, or can be considered offensive in some way, just be prepared for a backlash.

Sometimes, if you’re being honest and truthful, such a tone is warranted, but if you’re doing it just to get a rise, expect a rise.

Attention-grabbing

I have an iphone, a laptop, a TV, an Xbox, not forgetting a partner, a family, a dog, books, friends, guitar, exercise, work and the rest.

My time is limited, my attention divided.

Now what many writers or businesses assume this means is that they should create short, pithy content that I can consume in less than five minutes.

There is a place for this kind of content.

But in fact, just because my time is so split between other things, doesn’t mean I won’t make time for a piece of great writing on the web, even if it takes me an hour to read.

Often, it’s the more absorbing, long-form, detailed and emotive pieces that are the ones that really resonate and stick with me, and which I’ll make time in my life for.

So think about the attention-grabbing basics: headlines, titles, images. But also think about creating brilliant, engaging content that I’m willing to give my attention to.

If you manage to do that, you’ll build an audience who will continuously come back for more.

Article about writing for millennials

Jackson Rawlings

Don’t forget to catch up with Jackson’s views on what not to write for millennials … what really p*sses them off.

Jackson Rawlings describes himself as a “marketing professional, business owner and politics enthusiast based in Brighton.”

He runs a successful content marketing agency, Beanbag Digital covering the south of England, and writes widely on politics, football (soccer!) and life in general.

 

 

 

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