Millennials and Generation Z, they are a bunch of "newless" individuals who drive social critics and researchers nuts. They have the least interest in the news than those who grew up before the digital age. They spend more time on social media and the first thing they ask when they visit your home is your Wi-Fi password and a charger for their phone!
The biggest worry about them is that their understanding or the awareness of the world is incredibly narrow, which is why they discover news incidentally or passively through the social feed elements.
Be that as it may, older folks can yap and kill themselves over the Millennial and Gen-Z culture or try to fathom their new world and their desire for instant gratification from the news. The kind of news that isn't dumbed down – at least that's what a study by The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) and strategic insight consultancy Flamingo notes.
According to the study, which was dubbed How Young People Consume News and the Implications for Mainstream Media, Gen-Y/Millennials (those aged between 23 and 38) and Gen-Z (those aged below 23) consume news differently from how others before them did. The 2019 report noted that while traditional news brands see news as what you should know, the young audiences consider them as what you should know (to an extent), but also what is useful to know, what is interesting to know, and what is fun to know.
Although the study focused on young audiences in the UK and the US, the trend is global. Back in 2017, a report released by Geopoll, a digital research firm showed that over 60 percent of Kenya's Millennials get news from social sites, indicating a shift in consumption with the advent of new media.
A report released in August 2018 indicated that 64% of the world's entire population is made up of Millennials and Gen-Z. That's 4.7 billion people! With that in mind, news and marketing agencies must rethink their approach if they want to stay relevant.
Well, that 4.7 billion figure has sent people talking with some noting that these youngsters are lazy, contrary to other reports that say they are workaholics. Conflicting studies on the youth of today arise frequently, and for every published piece claiming that Gen-Z is obsessed about their own affairs, there's another claiming that they are community-minded. Moreover, other publications assert that the contemporary youth is narcissistic, but out there is another study claiming they are the saviors of the world.
As a result, we can safely confirm that Millennials and Gen-Z are anything but a monolithic marketing segment. So, what kind of information do they really consume and how do you get them glued to your content?
The best approach to creating content that engages the young generation begins by understanding where they come from. These youngsters, especially the Gen-Z faintly remember the era before the internet. They were born into technology, and this, in itself, has created an intricate set of news preferences.
What Do Millennials and Gen-Z Value?
The choice of format that you use to communicate, the tone, and the approach you use largely determine whether your news will be perceived positively among this demographic bracket. Young people are more driven by attitudes and what molded you as you grew up won't work with them.
They move at a fast pace. They move with trends, and what relates to them, what makes them laugh, what appeals to them. Youngsters want easy access to information that is convenient for them, that is why social media; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, among others are their favorites.
They rarely hold a newspaper to go through it, because all they want to know, they can access it on their favorite social media sites as well as blogs and other websites that resonate with their experiences. They have zero tolerance for anything other than what offers them instant fulfillment.
So, How Do You Stay Relevant?
Although many news industries have experienced a shift in the way their audience consumes news, some old habits are hard to get rid of, which is why sometimes you will find some of these youths reading a newspaper over the weekend or listening to the radio or Podcasts while on the move. So, how can publishers capture those interruptive moments and consistently have content that appeals to them?
Here's where you start, develop news content that integrates entertainment and information that fosters their self-development. Podcasts are good examples here. Apart from offering good entertainment, they are character-driven and can be easily accessed digitally. And oh, they also sell, and the youth will buy it if your content is that good.
Of course, there are other ways in which you as a publisher can satisfy both your needs and that of your audience, but it just won't happen without engaging them digitally.
The young audience is looking for a Facebook or Netflix-like experience. This has driven them to consistently want to help in shaping the news that impacts their lives. Most of them are recommending that publishers offer experiences that emulate what they love. It is, therefore, critical to weave content into their preferences and adopt a totally different approach regarding news values. For as long as you understand and meet their ever-changing demands, they will always engage with your content.
While at it, remember that this generation only read or share what cultivates their social and digital identity. To them, connection is a priority, and they care about their community, and by community, I mean social networks. The media choices you avail them should reflect their personal interests and be authentic.
That said, content creators today have a colossal task of going deep and providing information that is not only smart, authentic, and entertaining but thought-provoking in a manner that engages the ideas of Millennials and Gen-Z. This means adopting new perspectives that do not tie them down to a specific concept or idea. Remain flexible!