Making Sense of the Selfie Generation (And Why It's a Good Thing)

When millennials take a selfie, it's part of their personal brand online.
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When millennials take a selfie, it's part of their personal brand online.
Selfie.jpg

We crashed and broke Twitter. We have made history. -Ellen Degeneres, March 2014

Millennials are called the “selfie-generation.” It might seem like a dis, but smart publishers know that it’s actually a good thing. It means millennials are self-aware, selective and smart. When we take a selfie, it becomes part of our personal brand online—the brand image that defines who we are, what we like and what we stand for. While members of previous generations would rather floss than see themselves in a video, we post selfies to Instagram and Vine constantly. We’re not afraid to put ourselves out there—and you shouldn’t be either. If you look a bit closer at the selfie generation, and take some cues from our quirkiness and self-deprecating wit, you might just let a few of us off the hook. 

Here's why being part of the selfie generation is actually a good thing:

We’re self-aware: We know what we look like to our families, our friends, and our employers. We know what it means to be funny, to be put together, and to be socially minded. We also understand, on the flip side, how reading your content or purchasing your product can either improve or degrade our ever-changing self-image. Make sure that your content speaks to our need for reflection and self-improvement.

We’re social: Millennials share everything. From Twitter to Airbnb, we know that nothing we buy or do or even read will stay private for long, and we like it that way. So when we’re looking for good content online, we look not only for content that’s technically easily shareable, but content that speaks to us personally. Listicles, how-tos and testimonial tell-alls allow us to see ourselves in your content.

We’re mobile: Selfies are taken on the go: on train platforms and at every bar and restaurant in the country. Make sure anything you’re throwing at us is mobile-ready. Better yet, create an app. We love apps: they’re easier and more pleasant to use than mobile sites, and it makes us feel more connected to the content.

We’re brave: We’re not afraid to look silly or scrubby in a selfie or Vine video. We’ll try things like a salad from a vending machine and meatloaf cupcakes. Create content and products that let us think differently about what we consume and read. We’ll try something that’s outside the box if you just give us a chance. We’re brave, and you should be too.

We’re selective: For all of the above reasons, we’re picky. We vet the things we consumer very carefully, and we take great pains to make sure that whatever we consume is reputable. Online reviews, and word-of-mouth reputation, are more important now than ever. Make sure that your brand is projecting an image of quality, trendiness and timelessness: that’s the ‘special sauce’ of reaching millennials (today, anyway).

We’re smart: We’re no dummies—despite what we may look like making duck faces in front of bathroom mirrors. Millennials have a healthy distrust of brands and advertising, and we vote with our clicks and our wallets. This final advice is simple: be smart. Be smart about your content, your brand, your products and your reputation. Think ahead. Be smart not just about what millennials are reading today, but about what that will mean tomorrow.

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