In October 2018, I set out on a research journey to learn more about Millennial communication. I wanted to understand where they liked to express themselves and how they wanted to be recognized on social media. I also started to uncover the types of interactions Millennials expected from their “Leaders.” For the purposes of my one-on-one interviews, “Leaders” were defined as their own company leaders, business executives from familiar brands, or from the brands and the causes they cared about, and political leaders too.
One question was easy to analyze and the results didn’t surprise me. I asked 25 Millennials what advice they would give to leaders on social media. After analyzing their answers and using a tool to create a word cloud, certain words carried more weight and meaning. These included: TRY, UNDERSTAND, SOCIAL, MEDIA, NEED, CARE, GIVE, PEOPLE, RESPOND, MESSAGE, INTERACTIVE AND EMOTION. You can see the word cloud below.
Diving further into the interviews, the quotes from the Millennials answering this question were just as interesting. Here are a few of my favorite quotes offering advice to their leaders:
- Be relatable and much more interactive with us.
- If someone tweets to you, the least you could do is respond.
- Be clear and concise; our generation is overloaded with far too much information.
- The message doesn’t have to be perfect; this will make you more relatable and approachable.
- Show you care about the people behind your organization and brand.
- Operate your own social media, don’t let someone else; it seems a little shady.
- Take the time to understand us or your audience in general.
- Take the time to know us, especially on social media.
- You need to learn how to communicate through social media.
Millennials are asking for leaders to be more human and genuine and to show up with the emotional intelligence when they answer questions or interact with them. The smartest leaders will take this information and work on how they communicate through social media. One way to close the gap between what Millennials expect and how their leaders currently communicate is to FEEL first. What does this mean?
Face Fears – making you more open to different perspectives and not share knee jerk communication
Engage with Empathy – Don’t just listen but listen actively and ask questions, understand people so they know you care. Think less about your messages and how you can help them.
Use your Ethics (and good judgment) – Always being accurate, truthful and fair in your interactions. It also means showing up as your authentic self.
Unleash the Love – If you don’t show your passion, energy, and enthusiasm then why would anyone want to join your cause.
Here’s a video discussing the research and a new FEEL First Test (a web app) which is coming soon.