By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
We always pay attention when Millennials push a boundary, so most recently we’ve been looking at the generation’s relationship to diet and exercise regimes. Veganism, Juice Cleanses, and Gluten Free diets (used specifically for weight loss) are gaining momentum on college campuses; many girls are even starting their own blogs/Tumblrs to promote and show off their healthy lifestyle.
We’ve also seen a trend in bodybuilding and lifting among girls, as one panelist told us, “There are actually some girls on my Facebook who have taken up bodybuilding and post picture updates of their bulging muscles regularly. And one is kind of a girly girl, so I didn’t expect that. They’re not just wanting toned muscles, but muscles bigger than most guys have. The app “Watch Me Change My Weight (a time-lapse video of your fitness progress) is also popular. “ Many blogs and tumblrs are dedicated to this trend under the tag #fitspo, #fitspiration, and #Fitblr, curating workouts, diets and inspirational messages for motivation.
Running a half marathon or participating in a triathlon is “NBD”, “everyone does them” (and “humblebrags” about their workouts on Facebook). People are even entering out of-the-box competitions like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and Spartan Race that showcase crawling under barbed wire, jumping in freezing cold pools of water and running through fire.
We cant tell yet if it’s perfectionism, one-up-manship, sensation-seeking or some new dynamic driving this trend, but we’ll keep watching it closely and making mental notes while taking our Soul Cycle classes!
To paraphrase Warhol, everyone seems to be getting their 15 minutes of “Tumblr Fame.” The “Tumblr Famous,” those who gather a serious following and through this highly platform-specific notoriety, are multiplying.
TF is an interesting new development in the story of social media’s ability to create ‘distributed fame.’ What’s quite intriguing here is how hard it is to put your finger on what exactly is driving the popularity of any individual TF. It’s not “famous for nothing,” as some media commentators have claimed. Their followers clearly find something captivating about them. But what exactly is that elusive ‘x factor’ that’s so hooky with the follower fans?
It seems that the TFs are operating as “brand-lettes”…micro-brands broadcasting in a very specific, distinctive, authentic “micro voice,” and on a very particular “dog whistle” frequency: inaudible to many, a clarion call to some. This micro-branding is often playing with one or more quite sophisticated principles of good mass communication. For example…
Visual voice: Many popular bloggers can be identified by the visual vibe of their page or personal style. Molly Soda, for example, has fans who emulate her very particular look.
Editorial voice: Some popular Tumblr users include info and photos from their actual lives, but many don’t. “Deep” use of the reblogging function of Tumblr Tumblr to curate with a very particular viewpoint. This curatorial, filtered view appears to creating a kind of intimacy with the follower that that is especially compelling.
Relatable voice: Marketers have struggled for decades to create the illusion of relatable. So-called “Slice of life” advertising was coined for just this reason. “Hey, recognize this scene? Yes, it’s your life. Well here’s how this product makes it better…” By screen grabbing the stuff of their everyday lives and making a channel of it, TFs are creating complete authentic slices of life that invite the follower in to say “I know you, I recognize myself (or see my aspirational self) there, we are ‘friends’….”
Some of the “Tumblr Famous” are drawing in as many fans as mainstream celebrities. Clearly we are witnessing another chapter in the flattening of the field between the famous and the fan. One the one hand the distance between the famous and the fan is collapsing as we have discussed before (link to zero distance), and on the other the tools and techniques of fame are now in the hands of everyone, fueled by powerful platforms to bring that to full expression.
By Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
Thanks to Twitter, Diplo can invite fans to graffiti his photos, Khloe Kardashian wishes followers good luck on midterms and fans truly believe “artists can be your best friends.” MTV has been talking with Millennials about this narrowing distance between fans & celebs … we call it “Zero Distancing.”
In a panel @MTVInsights hosted during Social Media Week, Millennial super-fans painted a picture of what today’s intimate interactions with celebs looks like. Here’s what we heard:
· Rewards in Re-tweets: Kassie, 22, went backstage to show the famous DJ Diplo her “Diplo Kitty” nails. “He Instagrammed this shot… and it made my life,” she explains. She also talked about when he invited fans to creatively alter a photo of him, and “make it trippy.” Kassie’s photo-editing creativity earned her a re-tweet. She says, “A re-tweet seems small, but it’s so rewarding… it shows me he acknowledges what I did and makes me even more obsessed with him.”
· Behind-the-Behind-the-Scenes: Devi, 18, loves One Directions’ behind-the-behind-the-scenes Tweets, whether it’s Zane taking a photo of Harry sleeping or the guys posting a goofing-off video when fans thought they would’ve been rehearsing. “It gives you insight into what they do all day… and we get to see this side of them that not all artists share.”
· Punctuation Perfectionists: Emily, 17, notes that One Direction fans are OBSESSIVE about every character in every Tweet from their favorite band. “We notice all the little things, where they put periods; how they do smiley faces… we know right away when something is off.” Like when a manager takes over. “It irks us. We know that’s not Liam. That period wouldn’t be there. We know Liam can’t spell.”
Real Love: Nicole, 14, gets real love and friendship from Khloe on Twitter. Khloe’s sent her advice on studying and offered well wishes when she was sick with the flu. Nicole says“It’s honestly like I know her, even though we’ve never met… it’s like we just have a relationship. I love her.” She explains that every Friday Khloe has FanFriday and will post a picture someone made for her on Twitter… here’s Nicole’s, along with Khloe’s glowing feedback:
So…What’s the Future? Through hack sessions MTV orchestrated with Millennial super-fans, we learned they are eager for 3 things from their favorite celebs or artists:
1. More “creative challenges” rewarded: True super-fans aren’t opposed to working for celeb-love… in fact it’s even preferred. They want to Photoshop images, go on scavenger hunts, write funny one-liners, and then be rewarded by their favorite celeb with something as simple as a re-tweet or as big as a special Meet & Greet for their city
2. Co-creation opportunities: Super-fans want to be part of the creative process , whether that’s contributing song lyrics, designing album covers or voting on merchandise. Devi, 18, dreams of a world where fans design official merchandise in place of the “cheesy” OD-branded UGGs… and a contest where a fan gets to serve as photojournalist and take over OD’s Instagram feed for a day.
3. Tapping the creative jugular: We’ve heard that celeb Instagram feeds are hot because they are like “mainlining” into the artist’s creative jugular. And our fans are looking for more vehicles to get this intimate revelation as to what inspires their favorite celeb… whether that’s through celeb-generated playlists on Spotify or inspirational photos. They want more than just in-the-moment status updates… they want to get inside celebs’ brains and unpack what inspires them to actually create.
By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
A whole slew of social commentary has emerged about what it’s like to be 20-something today, with sites gaining momentum like F*ck I’m in my 20s, Thought Catalog and Adulting. On these blogs, Millennials try to dissect the dos/don’t of this somewhat ambiguous life stage in the confusing and chaotic world today…. as Adulting puts it “figure out how to be a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps.” Our panelists often express similar feelings. Mike, 24 says, “We’re not really sure when we’re supposed to become ‘adults’ and I’m not sure if I’ll ever really feel like one.”
As we study this generation, we are seeing this constant need to know the “why” behind the “what.” As “natural researchers”, Millennials are always trying to decode issue and figure out a lifehack for it. It’s not surprising that they are collaborating and working out the rules of modern adulthood together in a funny and even self- deprecating way in these kind of forums. “This content is self-deprecating and honest, giving young people a platform to bitch, learn and figure it all out together.” Explains one of our panelists
All the self-reflection is perhaps not so surprising. There is so much conversation & media commentary out there about what it means to “grow up Millennial” and run headlong into an adulthood laced with unemployment and mounds of student debt. “20-something-milestones” and “before-30 bucket lists” abound. It’s so much a work in process these days, that adult has morphed from a noun to a verb!
By Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
Constant feedback looping is a way of life for Millennials, who grew up with “full on” parenting, as well as the omnipotent social media machine, powered by “likes”, lols, RTs and <3333333333. So it’s not surprising that Millennials are creating new apps, sites and forms of digiquette that fuel the loop. In chatting with MTV’s Inner Circle, our college trend panel, we’ve learned about two new feedback mechanisms gaining momentum at universities:
- Anonymous compliment sites – Compliment Facebook pages have been cropping up for colleges around the country — students anonymously post compliments for friends, crushes and randoms in their Psych 101 class. While compliments run the gamut between sincere and joke, most seem to reflect a witty hybrid of both. A sampling:
o “_____ has her sh*t together more than anyone I know. The most beautiful and the most insightful.” ~Kenyon compliments
o “______, every time I see you I just feel happy …. Also, you make a mean Spotify playlist.” ~Kenyon compliments
o “____, you are like the kidney of Hamilton College. People abuse you sometimes, but everyone loves you and needs you no matter what.” ~ Hamilton compliments
o “_____ has a neat beard, a cool personality, and rocks at social media (texting, twitter, and stuff like that)! He’s also nice. Xoxo” ~Michigan Law compliments
- Lulu- This new app is exploding at the University of Florida and other campuses down South – it allows girls to rate guys in their Facebook network across a variety of dimensions from manners to sense of humor to commitment potential. Each guy is also assigned positive hashtags (e.g. #WillSeeRomComs or #Perfect Grammar or #SexualPanther) and negative ones (e.g. #IntegrityChallenged or #Worlds Worst Massages).
Many guys are obsessed with their rankings and feedback, and are clamoring to check girl friends’ cell phones to check their latest status. And when they aren’t pleased, we’re seeing responses in Twitter like this:
Tweet: “I HAVE TROUBLE WITH COMMITMENT?!?! YOU INSIGHTFUL BITCH! #Luluproblems #yoursoright”
With all the interest in soliciting “likes” & positive feedback across different platforms, we’ve also heard rumblings of annoyance that peers are so feedback obsessed. Some of this is reflected in snarky or fake posts seen on these sites. Regardless, we don’t see the “looping” trend reversing anytime soon.
By Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
Twitter is on trend with Millennials, particularly teenagers who are looking for a more coded, parent-free and conversational platform to chat & share pics.
Time spent on Twitter has climbed significantly in the past year amongst young Millennials aged 12-24: total minutes spent Tweeting on a PC/Mac are up +94% (Oct to Oct) and up 62% on mobile (ages 18-24; both app+mobile site).
Of course, Facebook is still the elephant in the room, or the mammoth we should say. Its 34.3M 12-24 year-old users dwarf Twitters’ 12.4M (on Mac/PC, Oct.) But the fact that Twitter is picking up steam is something to explore further. MTV Insights hears more & more teens across the country getting excited about Twitter, and here are a few of its advantages…
The age-old teen cry “get out of my room” has now translated to social media. While Millennials often have more peer-like relationships with parents, this doesn’t mean that they want parents involved in their online social life. A group of high school boys from Cincinnati revealed to us: “the good thing about Twitter is parents aren’t on it.”
The 144-character-limit to Tweets naturally gives rise to a more coded language amongst teens; one that not only parents have difficulty interpreting, but also friends who aren’t in on the joke/storyline. Teens frequently “subtweet,” or post coded/vague messages that only the right receiver will be able to interpret (messages that often give rise to intense speculation amongst classmates interested in that night’s drama…)
A subtweet might involve the phrase #oomf (one of my followers) which gives someone the opp to vaguely direct the tweet, e.g. “I like that #oomf said she was going to sleep but is still Tweeting.”
Teens love that Twitter gives them permission to share more “train-of-thought” commentary. Alise, a 17-year old from Chesapeake, VA says “I think Twitter is better because it’s updated in real time. I think Twitter is more of a “train of thought” site – people pretty much post anything they want from jokes to how they feel to what they did today.”
Alondra, a junior from Redford, MI explains “Twitter’s become very popular in my school. While on Twitter, they Tweet all day. You can mention things you’re doing every second of the day without posting it on Facebook and seeming annoying.”
Teens pretty much feel pressured to Facebook-friend their entire school… but Twitter is generally a more socially acceptable environment to be selective. Andy, a 16-year-old female from New Jersey explains: “Twitter is a good way to separate my acquaintances from my best friends. On Facebook, I have a bunch of people, most of which I don’t even talk to. On Twitter, I have people that I can’t go a day without talking to.”
While a lot of Twitter is all about interacting with friends, it’s equally as entertaining to follow celebs, news, sports and parody accounts. So to conclude, we’ll end with a few handles that our @MTVInsight teen panelists recommend:
· Bad Luck Brian: @UnluckyBrian
· Funny Facts: @FunnyFacts
· Aziz Ansari: @azizansari
· Bleacher Report: @BleacherReport
*Data source: ComScore
By Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
On October 26th, I witnessed something unusual in the streets of Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Mobs of teens & 20-somethings were wandering about clad in all-white from head-to-toe, donning accessories such as white sunglasses, white furry boots and white angel wings.
This was the pilgrimage to Sensation, an internationally renowned EDM (electronic dance music) festival making its first American appearance at Barclay’s Center. I interviewed several groups of Millennials who traveled from places as far and wide as Buffalo, Denver and Amsterdam to find out what was so special about this particular rave:
Millennials hunger to be a part of never seen before or again experiences… almost an antidote to a world that’s become so manufactured and where everyone has access to the same pieces of digital content. This was the very first time Sensation had travelled to the US, and young people wanted to be physically present at this once-in-a-lifetime event, which they could Tweet, FB and Instagram for friends who couldn’t make it (just check out the thousands of Instagram photos of Sensation Innerspace, many here)
2) Generational water cooler
Millennials are community-oriented, and crave a feeling of oneness and unity – so an EDM show has almost become a religious experience for this generation. Sensation particularly achieves this with its mandatory “all-white” rule, and a few Denver 20-somethings who made the pilgrimage to BK explained they liked the dress code because of the “sense of belonging” it fostered.
This crew also said they like how Sensation connects young people around the globe. “The whole world is connected, you can’t think locally anymore, you have to think globally” said Kan, 24. Al, 24 noted that these kinds of festivals feel right for his generation because they “transcend judgment and presumed stereotypes.”
Denver-ites: Linda, David, Al and Kan
In a world that’s trending towards post-consumerism, experience trumps physical things…. particularly the hyper-experience offered by EDM shows. Drugs are not required to feel transcended by the pulsating bass, multi-colored lights and fountains of fire & water spewing from the set of this $2.5M show. But it wouldn’t be an EDM show without Molly… as publicized on a young woman’s glasses below. And as I finished up my interviews and headed to the supermarket, I came across a pack of teens in all-white who were aggressively searching for the cough syrup aisle to concoct their own transcendental evening…
[Photo via @elisemami]
As the election draws to a close, @MTVInsights asked our college interns to tell the story of how their generation has engaged with this election over social media. Many have coined this the “first social election”… and for first time voters like our interns, they know nothing else. Millennials have been sharing witty memes and Tweefs (def: beefs in Twitter), as well as smartly utilizing online resources to fact check and discover their presidential soul mate.
Our interns Carly Ivrey and Hannah Nicklas share the most frequent kinds of political posts grazing the walls of their social media accounts…
1. Vote for Meme!
The presidential debates have allowed Millennials to go crazy creating GIFs and memes to express our opinions on politics. Even if a meme comes with a point of view, it’s usually more based on ribbing the subject’s reputation rather than policy, so supporters from both sides might be able to have a laugh.
During most of the debates, Millennials live Tweeted their opinions about what was happening on screen. They also poked fun at some of the crazier things politicians said by creating fake twitter accounts like @FiredBigBird and @RomneysBinders.
Instagram users got political by posting photos of things like their morning coffee in 7-Eleven’s “candidate cups,” their friends in politician costume masks, and images of their laptops as they watched a candidate’s speech
While many humorous political videos have been made by previous generations (and SNL shows little sign of slowing down), Millennials took it into their own hands to create something entertaining and kind of (but not really) informative. Some of our favorites:
· “Mitt Romney Style” (a parody of “Gangnam Style”)
· “99 Problems Explicit Political remix” (a mash-up of videos clips that produce President Obama’s take on Jay-Z’s hit) are a few examples of popular political viral videos.
· “Epic Rap Battles: Romney vs Obama” (Romney + Obama duke it out rap style)
5. “Dot Gov”
6. Finding a Presidential Soul Mate
On a serious note, quiz websites like ISideWith.com helped many Millennials, us included, to figure out which candidate really mirrored our opinions. These were a great stepping stone for us to learn more about the candidates, and with the sharing app, it was a great way to learn more about friends’ views too!
Fact-checking is extremely important to Millennials, since we were raised on Google. People posted tons of videos from FlackCheck.org showing what candidates said and revealing the truth behind their statements. Plus these videos run no longer than a minute, making them perfect for our ADD generation.
Whatever our opinions may be, whatever our approach may be, we all used our technology-savvy skills to make sure we were heard leading up to the election. Plus, it gave us another reason to keep humming the tune of “Gangnam Style”.
Stephanie Monohan, MTV Insights
Photo courtesy of Virginia Newton (@va_newton)
Social media has been playing a crucial role in the way Millennials talk about politics for quite some time, and that has never been more apparent than during the current election season. Following the presidential debate in Denver on October 3, Twitter announced that there were more than 10 million Tweets that evening, making it the most tweeted-about event in U.S. politics.
I myself attended a small debate party, in which we played “debate bingo” as a way to keep track of what topics the candidates covered and to make listening carefully to minute details on economic policy more fun. However, Twitter dominated the attention and conversations of everyone in attendance, for multiple reasons.
Twitter provided an outlet for users to share their reactions to the debate instantly, while also checking out the reactions of their friends, comedians, political analysts and experts, and even major celebrities, all of whom live-tweeted the event. People could either publish their own thoughts or instead re-tweet statements that they find humorous or intelligent as a way to convey their opinions without getting too personally involved in the conversation. Twitter (along with other social media sites) was also utilized as a live fact-checker for those closely following the stats and policies that the candidates mentioned. Even @MTV teamed up with the non-partisan FlackCheck.org to help their followers fact-check the information put forth in the debate in real time.
(courtesy of https://twitter.com/MTV)
Ultimately, the activity of Twitter users during the Presidential debates further demonstrates the complex ways in which Millennials utilize social media in their personal and politically active lives. There were plenty of jokes thrown around (Various Big Bird accounts appeared almost immediately upon the controversial Muppet mention), but even those reveal how Millennials’ political awareness is shaped by technology and what people share with one another online. However, while humor appears to be primary lens through which Millennials understand and talk about politics (and the fewer characters the better), it is still evidence of strong investment in the national/international issues and political discourse.
Matt Cohen, MTV Insights
Millennials are a hyper-charged generation that has been primed for success and raised to believe they can conquer the world with their special talents. Growing up, they were coached and encouraged by “peer-rents” and teachers to take the right classes, participate in the right extracurriculars, and do the right internships – all with the promise that if they were responsible and worked hard, they would be rewarded with a fulfilling job and a happy life.
However, post financial crisis, this typically optimistic and high-powered generation has crashed head-on into a very rude awakening — an economy where opportunities are limited and where they have to compete against equally supercharged and overqualified peers. And for the ones who are fortunate enough to land a job, many are discovering that workplaces aren’t as receptive and nurturing as the schools and homes they left behind.
Time and again, we hear from Millennials that they feel duped – that the rules of the game changed while they weren’t looking. Matt, 23, from Nashville tells us “It’s like you have to start fresh these days – the system is different. We started college, the economy tanked. We grew up with the idea: high school, college, get job, get married. I see guys with masters degrees working at sporting good stores.”
It’s not surprising then that nearly 7 in 10 Millennials in the workforce feel “underemployed,” meaning they aren’t in a job that truly leverages their capabilities. An equal number (72%) say they’re afraid of not living up to their potential.
However, despite this rude awakening brought on by the economic crash, Millennials maintain their characteristic optimism in the face of adversity. Millennials still believe that their dream job is out there - 6 in 10 Millennials say “I believe there is such a thing as a perfect job for me.” But they might just have to work a bit harder to find it – or create it themselves, with 6 in 10 agreeing “if I can’t find a job I like, I will try and figure out a way to create my own job.” In MTV’s recent “Generation Innovation” study, we met with Millennial creators, entrepreneurs and makers all across the country who are forging their own paths in this economy, starting anything from food trucks to bike sharing services to party planning apps. And their optimism shone through with their spirited motto “fail faster” – 1 in 2 Millennials (56%) agree their generation embraces failure as an essential part of success. If it doesn’t work, pick up the pieces and start again.
In a way, graduating into a bad economy has been rather liberating for Millennials. As a result of the crash, Millennials have realized that there are more important things than making money. Rather than chasing the biggest paycheck, this generation is looking for fulfillment in their work as we recently discovered in MTV’s “No Collar Workers” study. http://bit.ly/AaWs6W
It’s this spirit of Millennial resilience that has inspired MTV’s newest series “Underemployed”. “Underemployed” follows a group of friends who dream of “complete world domination” as they navigate a post-college world that is very different from the one they had imagined. The show picks up one year after the group has graduated from college. None of the characters are living the life they planned, but that doesn’t mean they are giving up. As Sofia (played by Michelle Ang) explains in the first episode, “You grow up wanting a certain kind of life – a dream of a life. But by the time you get there, that life is gone. You have to make your own life, and you have to make it your way.”
With “Underemployed”, MTV pays tribute to a generation that continues to persevere — and will undoubtedly succeed in changing the working world for the better. “Underemployed” premieres Tuesday October 16, 2012 at 10pm on MTV.