I turn 25 this week. I have an iPad, a phone, a computer, and a smart TV. I am active on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I read blogs, play Trivia Crack, and stay up on current events. I travel, love sports, love my family, and am one of those typical “millennials” that is always on their phone.

“Millennial” is a popular buzzword right now. But what does that mean? Who are we? Often, we are typecast by the workforce as entitled and lazy, with short attention spans. We are very focused on “Brand Me”. We are a key target demographic that brands want to get in front of, yet they struggle to understand us.

Months ago, this blog would have been aimed at the idea that the workforce, marketers and society simply do not understand millennials. However, my perspective has since changed. I think non-millennials are starting to understand how we, as a generation, tick. Some brands and companies that are getting it right include Samsung, which now offers exclusive content for its users connecting them with artists, and ABC, which promotes hashtags during its shows, and has cast members live tweet and engage with viewers as they watch.

Regardless of your current opinion of us millennials, here are a few things that I think brands, sports teams, and anyone else looking to interact with our generation should be mindful of:

1. Millennials want to make a difference. Using social media, our devices and our digital footprint, we strive to enact change and seek public attention. We can take a national campaign and, with our friends, followers, and connections, extend it internationally if it is something we are passionate about. Recent examples of this include the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS, the protests over Michael Brown, and the Twitter campaign to help young school-girls in Africa return to their families. All of these issues received world-wide attention and garnered significant engagement, in part to millennials’ interest.

2. We have opinions that we want others to hear in any way they will hear it. Brands that generate content that engages with our “social identities” will have an easier time connecting with millennials. By contrast, those that continue to simple talk at us won’t get far.

3. We are an “out of the box” generation. We don’t like to follow the status quo, and we set our own rules… and then break them. I think this last point is what makes it so difficult for brands (and individuals) to connect with us.

I believe that people are beginning to understand how to interact and connect with my generation, and I am glad to see that the identity of millennials is coming into its own. However, I recognize that there are still many challenges out there that marketers face that are specific to my generation. How can a brand get the attention of someone who doesn’t look up? Is it possible to form a relationship with someone who is more interested in how a picture will look with a different filter than actually living in the moment?

In short, millennials simply don’t know what we want, until it comes along. The best advice I can give marketers looking to engage with us is to be mindful of the fact that we are (and enjoy being) connected, and have the ability to influence far more people than we interact with on a daily basis. Use that as your baseline, and you may become the developer of the next great app that gets us to swipe right, or spend hours playing trivia against our friends. All you need to do is get one millennial on board and then watch their network do the rest!

Like what you just read? Continue the conversation with Turnkey blogger Britney Talty on twitter!

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