The Young and the Restless: Writing Content for the Next Generation

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Many businesses are finding that Generation X (those born between 1961-1983) are beginning to change markets. Though some are still in their mid-adult stage, most are heading toward retirement, so businesses cannot ignore the upcoming generations in their marketing.

Speaking to a generation of short attention spans and demanding consumers, the content writer will have to learn the hip new language of the Millennial (Gen Y) and (yet to be truly named) Plugged-In generations. How will the upcoming youth view content and what will they respond to best?

Defining the Millennials

The Y generation, or the Millennials, are a group born between 1984-2000. They have grown up with the developments of the internet, technology and social media, though these were not established when they were very young. Millennials are tech-savvy multi-taskers who can switch their attention between their laptops, smartphones, tablets and television 27x per hour (other generations only got up to 17x per hour).

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Image Attribution: The New Yorker

Millennials have short attention spans and will click in and out of search results to find what they are looking for. If your content isn’t catchy, quick-to-the-point and on-target, you will quickly lose the interest of the Millennial. The Millennials want to know what they are getting out of the deal and company loyalty isn’t really their thing.

They are avoiders who don’t appreciate conflict. They are the generation that sees less distinction between diverse groups – growing up with women in the workplace and mixed schools. This doesn’t mean that this generation is devoid of political and racial conflict, but they are less affected by it than any previous American generation.

Millennials are collaborators more than they are leaders. They need to be inspired and motivated. They appreciate positive feedback for a job well-done and they want to know that what they are doing/contributing to is important.

Writing Content: Who is Next?

Of course, there is another generation growing up right now. They are the unnamed generation because society hasn’t observed them enough to slap a label on. Entering the world between 2001-2020, they are the generation who is being born into a wealth of technological devices and digital social interaction. They are the first generation to grow up with their parents constantly on their phones, watching TV, searching the computer or playing Angry Birds. For our purposes we will dub this generation the Plugged-In Generation.

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Image Attribution: The New Yorker

There is already a lot of speculation about what this generation will gain or suffer from because of their parents’ divided attention. We have worried about how all of the impersonal interaction will affect the Millennials –– what it does to their brains and social structure –– but we have yet to understand the ramifications that we may face down the pike with a new generation that is partially ignored because of the Millennials’ devotion to their devices:

[The little boy, who] was about 2 1/2 years old, made repeated attempts to talk to his mother, but she wouldn’t look up from her BlackBerry. He’s like: ‘Mama? Mama? Mama?’ And then he starts tapping her leg. And she goes: ‘Just wait a second. Just wait a second.’ ”

Finally, he was so frustrated, that he goes, ‘Ahhh!’ and tries to bite her leg.

Or what about the two-year-olds who get bored by traditional media forms, thinking the magazine is broken when it won’t swipe like the iPad?

We don’t know much about this newest generation, but as writers, we best keep tabs on them as well. They are bound to navigate their devices like a fish in water.

Alethea M is a corporate blogging guru and freelance writer for WriterAccess. She often uses interesting facts from her article research to impress friends at dinner parties. Her husband is her biggest fan — though this may be because her writing income allows her to share in bill-paying each month.


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