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Who are the millennials? How are they going to define the future of the industry? And just how can we get them to part with their hard-earned money?

We in the Page Lizard office have seen an almost constant stream of articles pondering the mysterious millennial. They are defined, categorised and pigeon-holed by publishers who regard them as something unfathomable and strange; a market to be ‘cracked’, a group separated by ‘them’ and ‘us’ terminology.

Here’s a newsflash from an office full of 20-somethings: we’re actually pretty normal. There’s no great ‘secret’ to what we want – just be open and seek to engage us rather than label us.

Here, we’ve rounded up three real-life millennials* to answer questions about their tech habits, day-to-day lives, social media profiles and their widely varying relationships with publishing.Daisy-Jarrett

Daisy Ware-Jarrett, 23

Introduce yourself!

I’m Daisy, a 23-year-old lover of all things digital. I work as a Digital Editor at Page Lizard, so my head is in CSS and HTML for most of the day. I also co—run an non-profit magazine in my spare time called #Photography for young photographers to showcase their work online. I’m currently transitioning from a loyal Apple user to a die-hard Android fan, so whilst I still use a MacBook Pro for big projects and photography work, I have a Nexus 5 phone for my out-and-about digital life. I have no use for a tablet at the moment because I’m either “lite” browsing on my mobile or on my Mac for heavier things like shopping, working and writing.

You’re co-founder of your own magazine, #Photography. How do you keep your current millennial audience engaged?

The best way for us to keep our readers coming back is to keep content free. Most of the people who apply to be in and read the magazine are young students or semi-pro photographers like myself, who have adapted to working and living in a world where content is expected to be free.

The second way is to build up a strong community. There’s a strange idea that the online world means young people have become much more self-involved, and don’t have strong communities any more. That’s simply not true, and in some ways I think online communities can be stronger than ‘real life’ ones. Alongside our readers, we want to feel engaged and up-to-date in the photography community, so by having a Facebook page, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest and a website, we’ve managed to build a strong community that engages, contributes and supports each other on a daily basis.

How would you define your relationship with social media?

When it comes down to my personal relationship with social media there are two platforms that lead the way, Instagram and Pinterest, but I may be a little biased as someone with an interest in photography. Don’t get me wrong, I use pretty much all of them on a daily basis: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp & WordPress, but I have a completely different relationship with them all. Facebook, Snapchat and WhatsApp are quite personal to me and I use them to keep in touch with family and friends. Twitter, Pinterest and WordPress fuel my creative research and inspire my projects. Instagram is the awkward crossover; it belongs in both the personal and creative parts of my life.

I would never pay for social media, I rarely pay for music or films either (apart from Netflix) but when I come across an album or film that I think I will want when I’m an old woman, I pop to the shops and buy a hard copy to keep for the future.

Any advice for those hoping to reach out to millennials?

Stop thinking so hard! ‘The Millennial’ has become such a mystical term. Who are the millennials? What do they think? What do they eat for breakfast? It’s really not that complicated and like every “group”, the most dangerous thing anyone can do is shove them into one box and assume everyone thinks the same. Especially with this generation in particular – we literally have access to anything we want. Accept that every millennial uses the internet and social media in their own way, and make sure you facilitate that level of variety. Don’t try to push them all down one path.

Andy Clarke, 24

Introduce yourself!

My name is Andy, an avid gamer and all-round audiophile. Whether I’m hosting massive LAN parties or just chilling with a few friends at the weekend, I’m always plugged in. My room functions more as a mini-cinema, with a big ol’ TV and 5.1 surround sound system. I have an ipod touch (old school) and the world’s oldest phone (it looks like a blackberry, but certainly doesn’t perform like one!). I use Skype for most of my communication, as you can group call and share files for free.

What content do you get for free, and what would you expect to pay for?

I pay quite a hefty internet bill each month, but very little for anything else. If you’re savvy, this is how it should be. I get my TV shows and movies online for free. I also get my podcasts for free – there are a couple I donate to, but that is optional. The one service I do pay for is Spotify; I am always building new playlists, and being able to download them offline and take them with me is essential.

You’re a self-confessed podcast lover. Why audio, over other forms of media?

There is something liberating about the format. Podcasts aren’t weighed down by the usual set of tropes that TV shows and movies tend to cycle through. No matter how abstract the topic, there is likely a podcast about it, and that’s the beauty of the whole setup. They are an opportunity to reach out and make a genuine connection with communities of like-minded individuals whilst being entertained. It doesn’t matter if I am gaming, commuting or out-and-about, I will likely have my headphones on and be tuned in. Did I also mention they are free?

Any advice for those hoping to reach out to millennials?

I can only speak from personal experience, but I think that there are two key factors to consider.

Firstly, the cost. Millennials, however you choose to define the word, are likely to have a finite amount of disposable income. Coupled with the fact that the internet has completely blown the vault doors wide open in terms of nabbing content for free, I won’t be looking to pay anything close to a premium rate for anything.

Secondly, don’t underestimate how apathetic millennials will be towards what you are offering. Everything has been done before, and is therefore probably boring. The second it gets boring, it becomes white noise along with everything else. Offer something new and exciting, but avoid gimmicks.

Esther Kezia Harding, 23

Introduce yourself!

Hi! I’m Esther, and I work as a Digital Editor and Designer. Outside of the office, I can usually be found illustrating or reading a book. I own a laptop, Samsung smartphone and a Nexus tablet, and mainly use them for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, which is my favourite platform for curating everything from inspirational design pieces to ideas for tomorrow’s lunch. I use Linkedin a fair bit too, mainly to keep up with industry news and views.

What content do you subscribe to/pay for and why?

I have monthly subscriptions with Spotify and Netflix. I’m a real digital hoarder – my Spotify collection is insane, and it sometimes worries me that if they ever go under, I’ll have no music to show for it! The benefits outweigh this though – I’ve been able to try so many new artists that I’d have never spent money on before. Aside from that, I have a TES subscription (for the app!) to keep an eye on education news, and regularly pick up the free Tesco magazine – the recipes are great. I read all my news digitally, either via my Facebook feed or the BBC app.

How is the millennial relationship with advertising changing?

Honestly, I rarely notice adverts now (unless they’re really bad, like that one with Nicole Scherzinger attempting to eat yoghurt). I usually watch any TV shows online, and have Adblock Pro installed to try and cut down the sheer quantity of rubbish that is thrown at me. As a generation, we understand that it’s a primary way for the industry to make money, but banner ads are outdated. This is where Buzzfeed has the right idea by getting brands to sponsor content – then we feel like we’ve learned something rather than just being fed irrelevant information. Adblockers will continue to get smarter, so the industry must look at why we’re resorting to using it, not how they can fight it.

Any advice for those hoping to reach out to millennials?

Be authentic and honest. We’re a cynical bunch who can smell a rat a mile off. Saying that, I would also caution against sweeping assumptions – we may be a generation of digital natives, but we’re also incredibly diverse in tastes and behaviours. I have friends who still own Nokia 3310’s but are brilliant coders, and others who are passionate about the future of digital publishing but still love curling up with a print magazine.

 

Meet the Millennials #2 – your questions

Got a question you’d like to ask us? Email us, tweet us or write to us (if you’re desperate!) and we’ll feature it in part #2.

*There are two definitions of ‘millennial’ – those literally born in the millennium, and those who were born in the late 80’s/early 90’s, started work in the millennium and have grown up with technology. The latter is the more popular definition used in the workplace and in various industries, and for the purposes of this article, is the one we’re using.

 

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