MCON13: Millennials and Social Media

Submitted by Megan on Thu, 07/18/2013 - 4:55pm

Throughout the day, well be living blogging sessions from MCON13, a conference to help leaders engage the Millennial generation. We're attending virtually through the livestream. This session featured panelists, Jenna Golden, Twitter; Jessica Mason, YouTube, and Danielle Deabler, NPR, discussing Millennials and Social Change.

"Millennials want to know what's going on all the time and be constantly connected", says Jenna Golden. She sites a recent stat that over 42% of unique Twitter users are millennials. For millennials, Twitter is often their news stream and where they go to get information. It's frequently the place where they first engage. Mobile has been key to Twitter adoption particularly by millennials.

How do you go about leveraging millennial Twitter users for a good cause? Jenna gave the example of charity:water's World Water Day campaign. They used Twitter to build excitement in advance of the event by using an event hashtag and sharing photos. They also enlisted supporters with large Twitter followings to help spread the word. Best of all, they had a great sense of humor while also inspiring action.

You better believe a big chunk of the one billion YouTube users consists of millennials. YouTube itself is built from creators. Jessica Mason describes the connected behavior that drives millennial users, who are used to getting whatever content wherever and whenever. Millennials expect video as part of any content they consume.

When millennials go to channels or videos for entertainment or news, they start seeking out more of the content they like. Remember the "Gangham-style" video? Perhaps you've seen it? There are now three times as many Korean pop videos since the video was first released a year go. This example is a powerful example of how compelling content drives users to share and seek out more on similar topics.

When thinking of launching campaign to engage millennials, Jessica encourages thinking about the three Cs: Content, Connecting, and Community. She gave different social good examples to illustrate.

  • Content Lauren Luke created a video for domestic violence awareness, teaching users how to cover a black eye with makeup in the same manner she has for other how-to makeup videos. At the end of the video, Luke emphasized the importance of fighting domestic violence and encouraged others to donate.
  • Community MetroTrains was faced with the daunting task of making a safety video on a dull topic that most people normally wouldn't want to watch. They used dark humor to present their safety video and it went viral. The popularity of the video provided tremendous advertising value and they also saw a subsequent 40% decrease in train accidents. This is a powerful example of the power of creating content that people want to share.
  • Connecting Water.org used YouTube for World Water Day. They garnered celebrity power with a video with Matt Damon, along with other YouTube stars, taking advantage of an big existing audience that Matt Damon wouldn't have. With a series of humorous videos, Water.org put together curated playlists for World Water Day, garnering support for the event and cause.

But Jessica cautioned nonprofits who feel pressured to create video content without taking a step back to ask what their goals are with videos. How, why, and how will you measure success? Nonprofits can enroll in YouTube for Nonprofits and access a 30-page guide to help them do just that. 

Why should NPR or anyone else care about engaging millennials? Well for starters, look at the major game-changing platforms (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) that were all founded by innovative millennials. "There's really a new integrated model of public engagement now", says Danielle Deabler. "It's not about just writing a check. It's about digital relevance". Millennials are re-defining traditional philanthropy by "sweat equity", engaging in public dialogue over causes they care about. They want their ideas and perspective to be heard.

Danielle described NPR's "Generation Listen" launched at the SXSW conference. Generation Listen is an attempt to connect NPR and public radio with community and create civic behavior. A big aspect is engaging college students and empowering them them to create curated events. The program also has the effect of engaging donors at this young level, creating a donor pathway so when they likely have more financial resources with age, they can continue at a higher level of support.

NPR currently covers about 95% of the country. Looking to future, what if NPR could engage millennials across all local communities? NPR is looking at how to empower millennials with the NPR brand and re-defining what support means.

What good examples of engaging social media for change have you seen? Share them in the comments.