What Millennials Read and Why

Millennials spend nearly 18 hours a day consuming all kinds of media. 18!
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Millennials spend nearly 18 hours a day consuming all kinds of media. 18!
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“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” -Lemony Snicket

Given millennials’ love of short-form video, Instagram, hyperlapses, tweets and the gamification of everything we touch, it’s easy to believe they don’t read long-form media. But it’s simply not true. In fact, according to Crowd Tap, millennials spend nearly 18 hours a day consuming all kinds of media. 18! Granted, millennials consume more than one form of media on more than one device at a time, but this is still a massive amount of time to be consuming anything.

In fact, millennials are reading more than the over-30 crowd: 88% of Americans under 30 says they’ve read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of Americans older than 30, according to the Pew Research Center. Bonus fact: 43% of millennials read from a book every day – it just might not be a paper book.

Want to take advantage of millennials’ penchant for reading? Here’s one millennials’ advice:

Write stories millenials can relate to. The trick is not to get us to read. It’s to get us to commit to the media we’re reading and to pay attention through the end. We like to see ourselves in the stories we read. We like to learn something from them. We want to be inspired to change our lives because of them. Write stories that speak to millennials’ desire to change our lives and ourselves, and we’ll be hooked.

Speak to their sense of adventure. Right now I’m reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and I can’t put it down. It makes me want to pack a few belongings in a backpack and just take off, leaving my comfy world behind. I keep reading because I want to know Cheryl will be okay as she hikes alone for more than 1000 miles, and even after I know she’s ok (of course she is, she lived to write the book), I’ll see the movie Wild in December to make sure she really was okay, and to re-inspire myself to leave everything behind and just start walking. Millennials want to go on adventures. Give those to us through the content we read, and we’ll come back for more.

Avoid TLDR article abandonment. That’s not to say that all content must be fewer than 500 words, but make sure, though, that you’re not populating the web with fluff. If millennials deem any content to be a waste of time, they won’t read it. Don’t’ count on us to trudge through junk to get to the good stuff, because we won’t do it. Edit.

Create multimedia experiences. When we like something, we want more of it. We’ve all had the sinking feeling that when a book we love is finished, there will never be more of it, but in the age of the Internet, there’s always somewhere to get more information about whatever we want. Remember that we love to watch videos and scroll through pictures, too, so if you can create visual content to accompany long-form written works, we’ll likely take a look. Give us more and we’ll consume more—as long as the original content was good to begin with.

Be mindful of shareability and accessibility. Whether it’s about simply tweeting or sharing on Facebook, or actually having a conversation on a message board or Goodreads, we want to be able to share the media we like. Make sure we can, easily and effectively. Remember, too, that millennials read everything, including books, on mostly mobile screens. Make sure any content you create, from long-form articles to blog posts, has a responsive design.

Millennials invented, or at least wholeheartedly adopted, an instant-gratification-seeking, hyper-connected, 18-hours-a-day-consuming-content culture. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t like to sit down and read a book. Take advantage of millennials’ love of long-form reading—disregarding what people say about our attentions spans supposedly being shorter than that of a goldfish—and give us something good to read. We’ll read it, and we might even share it with our followers.

Molly Soat is a millennial and a staff writer for Marketing News and Marketing News Weekly. Follow her on Twitter @mollysoat.