Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post by Larkin Grant, a marvelous millennial whom I met on twitter.
Recently, I went to meet a friend at a bar and arrived first. What was my first instinct? Check Facebook and foursquare to see if I knew anyone around. In 2 minutes I was sitting with friends. All because they revealed their location to the world.
As kids, our parents taught us not to share personal information with strangers. So why are millennials now publishing this information?
We share because it has become the norm. Millennials grew up with technology, claiming it as part of our generational identity. While earlier generations bemoan technology’s invasion in everyday life, millennials embrace it, even sleeping with their cell phones. This connection to technology make millennials much more comfortable sharing personal information online, with 69% revealing sexual orientation and 78% revealing relationship status online.
The New Connection
Putting personal information like your location online seems little different than telling your friends in person because the way we communicate has changed and expanded with technology. We are communicating with friends en masse and if the world sees it too, millennials accept that. 91% of millennials make their check-ins public.
This shift allows for accidental meetings, like my Saturday night. Checking in sends an implied invitation to friends everywhere to come out. To a generation that hates to wait, this efficiency is extremely appealing.
This is not to imply that millennials are posting social security numbers online. We walk a fine line with information sharing. We may willingly disclose our relationship status, but if a company asks for our email we will baulk. Unless they offer something in return.
Millennials are rewriting the advertising rules. We want interaction with brands. 43% of millennials have liked more than 20 brands on Facebook. Simply releasing an ad is not good enough. We know that we a valuable demographic, and if companies want information about us, they have to give us something in return: a discount, an exclusive, to make our breach of privacy worth our while. 71% of millennials liked a brand on Facebook just to receive an offer.
Millennials do value privacy, but it is a privacy that looks very different than 50 years ago. We are also willing to give up information for the sake of convenience and social connections.
Larkin is the Community Manager for Our Valley Events. Larkin’s passion is for all things technology, changing the world, and cupcakes. She is very involved in the young professional scene, both locally and nationally. Locally, Larkin served as the Hospitality Chair on the Huntsville Young Professionals board of directors and is a recent graduate of Connect Young Professionals. Nationally, she recently co-founded Millennial Chat, a forum for young professionals across the nation that hosts weekly Twitter Chats on a range of topics as well as a blog written by Larkin and her co-founders. You can read her blog here.
My favorite sentence: >>Millennials do value privacy, but it is a privacy that looks very different than 50 years ago.
Thanks for doing a great job describing how privacy is evolving. I think this goes hand-in-hand with how Millenials (and many Gen X-ers) demand better work-life balance and more liberal technology access policies in the workplace too.
Thanks Nicole! You are absolutely right about the changing work-life balance and I predict that as more and more millennials enter the work force you will begin to see the traditional 9-5 work day become less traditional. You will also see technology play a more pivotal role. Out of curiosity, do you have profiles on any of the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc?
I do! Am on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (Frustratdwriter …. short one “e” due to max field length. I’m not doing as much on Twitter these days as I’m writing my kids’ baby books day-to-day as their own Twitter feeds.)
Perfect! You can find me on Twitter at @LarkinGrant. I’ll look for you now!
I’m not a millennial but I sure act like one! Love 4Square and keeping up with people that way. I agree, the generation gap is HUGE in the social media “life as connection now” arena. Refreshing!
foursquare IS a great way to keep up with your friends and what they’re doing. Do you have a favorite social network? My 2 newest favorites are Instagram and Pintrest.
Larkin & Mary Ellen – Thanks for providing a fresh perspective. It’s been an education watching how different generations use social media. We definitely each have our own style of using it.
I also believed that millennials wanted more interaction with brands, as other generations are expecting as well. But that’s not always the case: I presented a seminar at a Wedding Biz Conference and heard there from engaged brides who were planning their weddings on Facebook. They WERE NOT interested in having a conversation. They wanted to see photos and move on. It was a perspective I hadn’t heard before.
Larkin – have you heard this as well?
Maria- I have met some millennials who are not engaged in social media at all actually. But thoses are few and far between.
When you say that these brides wanted to look at the photos and go, are you talking about their wedding pictures? And I’m intrigued; can you tell me more about planning a wedding on Facebook and what that entails?
Larkin – I presented a social media workshop at a Wedding Biz conference in Atlanta. A fascinating part of the conference was a “Brides Panel” where the engaged ladies discussed how they used social media to plan their weddings.
Basically they would look at business pages of vendors they were interested in using for their weddings. They were interested in looking at company page photos – window shopping – but not having a conversation. They wanted to see photos of floral arrangements, catering, wedding cakes, dresses, anything that had to do with wedding planning. They did not, however, want to connect with these companies.
Facebook was their #1 tool of choice, with Pinterest coming in second. These women were definitely using social media in a big way, just not the way most brands would hope for.
Maria- That is very interesting. Social media is an amazing resource for information purposes. I think the real key for any business or brand is looking to use social media (or really in general) is:
-identify WHO their customers are
-look at HOW they are using social media.
-then you can develop a strategy.
Too often, businesses try and make their customers use social media in a certain way and especially for millennials this is not going to fly. We have our own minds. If you can fit into the ways people are already using the media and add value in that way, then you’re golden.
Let me just say this, you can’t rewrite the advertising rules fast enough for me! How we ‘hang on’ to the way it has always been is pushing me further and further away. More power to you!
Glad you’re on board Jeff! Doing something “just because it’s always been that way” has never appealed to me, or the majority of millennials, either. The trick is exploring more efficient ways of doing things without appearing to challenge the actual person in charge, which can often happen. I’ve found that this very communication issue is at the core of many generational conflicts in the workplace.
Although I’ve been aware of the upsurge of social media, I hadn’t thought of it being a generational issue–duh. I think you are absolutely right about millennials being so much more tuned into technology, and it is interesting how this impacts privacy. Frankly I love the way things are changing, although it is sometimes difficult for this babyboomer to keep up. (I admit it, I miss printed instruction manuals).
Glad you’re on board for the changes Linda! And I for one do NOT miss printed manuals. I think its so much easier to just google it, but then again I never read the manuals anyway. I’m more of a trial and error kind of gal.
Sleeping with your cell phone – sounds crazy, but OMG I do that! My iPhone has now replaced my alarm clock and I can turn the volume down low and keep it right next to me so I don’t wake anyone else up when I get up really early 🙂
Me too!! I’m not sure my phone even knows what being turned off is. And of course I also sleep with it right beside my bed.
We are all comfortable with what we grow up with. But we need to adapt as we go or we wil be left behind. As far as understanding technology and how to make it work, just ask any 8 year old.
Bill- you are so right! The younger you are, the more likely you are to know about technology. All the more reason that companies today should be utilizing their younger employees for this type of knowledge, not relying on the principle of “we’ve always done it this way.”
You mean there are people who don’t sleep with their phones? I have 2 iphones on my night stand and my husband has one on his. Love technology and all the convenience that comes in such a tiny package!
Tiffany- I know it sounds crazy, but there are indeed some people that do not sleep with their phones! I am not one of them, in fact my iPad is often not too far from my bed. You are absolutely right that packaging and convenience are key factors in driving the quick adoption of this (awesome) technology.
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