(By Georgia Beasley) One of the harshest critiques I receive regarding Millennials is our lack of focus. I can’t deny having my fair share of “squirrel” moments, but as I begin to explore this concept more deeply, I have to admit that I’ve already tweeted, posted a video to my Snapchat with the cutest new sunglass filter, refreshed my work email, refreshed my personal email, texted my mom, and loved 12 pictures on Instagram. So wait, what was I saying? Oh right, our slight issue with focus.
Our world has many more options than it used to, especially when consuming media. This is the root of the disconnect that radio faces when trying to communicate with Millennials inside and outside of the industry. When we break down the fundamental differences in communication between the generations, we need to first consider the impact that short-form media has made on what type of communication to which Millennials have been exposed from an early age.
Short-form media have been surrounding our generation since the advent of the Internet. They can be absorbed in less than two minutes, don’t require much critical thinking, and allow for some serious multitasking. That being said, because of short-form media consumption, Millennials tend to distribute focus and attention while absorbing information that’s being served across multiple platforms simultaneously. From 10-second videos on every social media network, to texting, to the use of in-home audio-demand devices such as Alexa… the Millennial generation is obsessed with saying what they need to say but keeping it, well, as short as possible.
That being said, I have seen examples of short-form communication bridge the gap between Gen X/Baby Boomers and Millennials by taking fresh, Millennial approaches to traditional process and communication. For instance, top players from organizations such as Harvard University, up to Samsung, and even eBay have integrated the use of group-messaging applications such as the industry standard, Slack. They have all found using this type of “Millennial communication” to be beneficial and efficient in their companies, as well as allowing more Millennial talent to emerge and thrive.
As a general manager, explore types of Millennial characteristics that can be cultivated and repurposed to advance a system or process which may have become outdated. In this article, it is the “lack of focus” stereotype being examined and then repositioned to modernize your team’s communication by using short-form media in a unique way. Integrating new, Millennial-inspired tactics can breed success into a team, however, it can also grow and strengthen the audience of a station brand.
When looking through that lens of a Millennial, if multitasking and short-form media consumption across multiple platforms simultaneously is what has become comfortable communication, should the radio industry look at the way we are programming and managing the user experience with our brands by incorporating shorter forms? Should we reconsider the length of commercials and begin the evolution toward 10- and 15-second commercials instead of 60s and 30s? Mobile has changed the way we absorb content, it only seems natural that our programming and commercial inventory match that evolution. TV and the top streaming audio providers only allow 30s and 15s, so why do advertisers expect 60 seconds from our industry and not theirs? The pace of life is so much faster than it was 50 years ago. Why have our commercials stayed the same?
Gen-X and Baby Boomers grew up with very different media consumption which equated to very different ads and their effectiveness. The generations which preceded me engaged in much longer forms of media consumption so 60-second commercials fit very well. If you are a general manager, try encouraging all departments to reevaluate the traditional aspects of our industry. Look at systems, processes, length of commercials and stop sets, and the role they all play in the radio experience. This could be the difference needed to grow our Millennial audience and our industry’s position in media.
Georgia Beasley is Director of Digital Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]