By And For Them: Connected Storytelling

As America’s young become more demographically diverse, is there a secret to authentically connecting with this fiercely independent cohort? Actually, the clue to their minds and hearts might lie in paying a lot more attention to what is their hands.

But, unlike their parents or much older siblings who were among the first to also use handheld phones, this is the coming of age of a new generation that has grown up entirely on mobile phones but, not just for talking and listening.

America’s mobile young “consumers” unhesitatingly see themselves now as also “producers,” essentially co-creators and active participants in what to them naturally feels like at least a two-way conversation, if not more.

As a result, the traditional notion of the “one-to-many” media dissemination has started to change, as this new generation of young Americans seek shared experiences and active, even if time-shifted conversations.

To be sure, this is a group that demands fearlessness, authenticity, passion and occasional irreverence in topics that they are willing to spend their time and money on, be it words, images, sounds and video.

But, you could say ‘but so did the boomers and the “Old Millennials,”’ as some people dub those born around 1988 or earlier.

What is different—and it is a vital difference—about this new co-creating consumer is their desire, willingness and insistence that they be part of that two-way conversation. And that the original storytellers genuinely represent and reflect who the audience is.

As a result, some of the most authentic and passionate media brands today are those that provide easy and engaging platforms for young consumers, created by young, professionally trained and equally passionate storytellers, to both consume, express and share, concurrently and seamlessly.

The role of smart media companies has thus become more of being curators of super-fans and their conversations, organized around themes and topics—be it technology, gender, sports, music, politics, environment, and social justice, to name a few that young Americans now gravitate towards.

What was once the end-product—great content—has now become table-stakes upon which needs to be overlaid the ability to foster deeply engaging and ongoing conversations among those who share common passions.

And it is this ability to unite America’s diverse young new generation around their passions, by creating multi-media digital equivalent of watercooler-talk, that will separate winners and losers in the media marketplace.

And if brands want to become an integral part of the lives of these young super-fans, these conversations are really where they need to live too, in an authentic, connected way.

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