One of the most interesting generational transitions in recent memory is happening right now.

Millennials are now buying houses, sticking with jobs longer, and starting to have kids. Some have been "adulting" so long that they have paid off all of their college debt. (Others, not so much.) Meanwhile, Gen Z have jumped into the workforce (finally). I've mentioned this before, but these young adults are tech savants. They grew up with social media, and they can swipe through YouTube videos faster than a hyper-caffeinated chimpanzee.

Unfortunately, as we transition over to a totally different generation of workers, it's easy to stick with preconceived notions about the "outgoing" generations. Millennials might still prefer avocado toast and plaid shirts, but they are getting much harder to pin down.

That's why I questioned a new survey that profiled just over 2,000 Millennials and found they prefer the advice from social media and YouTube over their parents.

The report said the ages were 18-35, which is the first sign of a problem right there.

Pew Research defines Gen Z as anyone age 4 to 23, so Millennials are more like 24 these days up to about 38. They are college grads...and business owners.

The same report switched between advice about those who use Instagram and Facebook to online bloggers and influencers as though those things are interchangeable.

First of all, they're not. I conducted a study of my own recently profiling about 130 teenagers and not a single person said they use Facebook regularly. They all use Instagram. And, YouTube is a different beast entirely.

Not only is it extremely hard to pin down Millennials as a generation (the older ones own homes, the younger ones are just out of college), but it's also hard to pin down how they use social media. And, what about their parents?

That's where this study goes belly up, in my opinion. (The company behind the study, a U.K. digital media company called 383, did not respond to an email request for more information.) I understand that the survey found that 53% of respondents said they trust Facebook, Instagram, and online bloggers more than their parents. That's over half.

And, the study seemed to lump "influencers" into one big group of YouTube stars and Instagram celebrities along with online bloggers. Which is it?

There's something not quite right here. My first question is--what are we trusting? If we're talking about social media, it's just too broad and too multi-faceted. Are we talking advice about car repairs or how to raise kids? Younger Millennials getting a car loan or older Millennials deciding about a job? Younger Millennials trusting a Fortnite streamer?

It's a bit like asking people if they like hamburger or steak.

I mean, it depends on the hamburger and on the steak.

Blanket statements about listening to advice from parents versus social media don't really help any of us quantify or understand generational differences.

The best surveys--meaning, the ones that are the most helpful--are always specific and detailed. We don't really need another general study comparing parental advice to social media. I'd be more interested in a study comparing the accuracy of social media networks on the same topic (like car repairs or choosing a college).

Doing a survey comparing parents to social media is like asking people if they like blue or green better. You get results, and opinions, but no one will really care.

Published on: Apr 9, 2019
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