Millennials Continue To Buck Trends By Building Careers On Social Media

Millennials Continue To Buck Trends By Building Careers On Social Media

September 2016

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Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram have become such staples of our everyday lives that we often forget how powerful they are. But for the thousands of millennials across the nation, the reach of social media is not lost, because many of them are using these networks to earn their living.

What Makes a Millennial Tick?

This latest generation of adults is unique in a number of ways. Its members have grown up in a world that’s starkly different from the one their parents knew as children. Thus, they have somewhat different perspectives on what’s right and wrong, how society functions, and what their role entails.

Here are a few essential details that characterize the majority of millennials:

  • Millennials were raised with the impression that governments are selfish and power-hungry, but they also believe that — through political engagement — governments can sometimes behave as a force for good. So millennials participate in initiatives, programs, and protests to voice their opinions to a greater extent than previous waves of American youth.
  • Millennials are digital natives; they’ve grown up in a world full of technology. Older millennials were just entering their adolescent years when the internet and cellular phones became widespread, and younger millennials know nothing of life in a world that lacks these elements.
  • Millennials are global citizens in the sense that they feel connected to issues around the world. The instant and broad connectivity of the internet and constant exposure to social movements have made this commonplace.
  • Millennials tend to be progressive in the sense that they’re always looking to move forward and seize new opportunities. When new technologies come along, they aren’t hesitant to adapt.
  • Millennials are diverse. This is America’s most racially diverse group ever, which has allowed this generation to face and address many issues that previous generations struggled with, when they acknowledged them at all (for example, immigration, sexism, alternative sexual lifestyles, etc.).

But the most distinctive attribute of millennials is that they are readily entrepreneurial. According to a study from Bentley University, only 13 percent of millennial respondents mention “climbing the corporate ladder” to a C-suite position as central to their career ambitions. Conversely, 67 percent say they plan on starting their own business one day.

Roughly 77 percent of millennials believe flexible work hours are key to boosting productivity and being happy, and 37 percent express a desire to work on their own. Both are clear indicators that a work-from-home entrepreneurial lifestyle is perfectly acceptable to the average millennial.

The Influence of Social Media on Millennial Careers

In the case of social media, we see the digital-native millennials, who are comfortable with technology and express an affinity for social media, embracing the capitalistic advantages that lie just beneath the surface.

Young adults view social media as more than just a tool for chatting with friends and posting embarrassing late-night selfies. This is also a platform for creativity, innovation, and even monetization.

As a result of the unique makeup of millennials and the rich options of social media platforms, we’re seeing some striking differences in the way members of this cohort approach their career paths. Specifically, we’re seeing the following trends:

  1. Visual Platforms Lead the Way

The path to success on social media isn’t primarily via Facebook or Twitter, but on predominantly visual platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram. Millennials love consuming visual content and prefer the streamlined interfaces of these platforms to older networks whose audiences mostly consist of their parents and grandparents.

  1. Sponsorship Opportunities Abound

Visual social networking platforms — Instagram, in particular — create attention for personable millennials with large followings so that they get approached by companies who offer sponsorship deals. This is one way millennials have turned social media into a paying job.

“There are 500 million users on the free and popular photo sharing site, and if you’re savvy enough, you can be one of the few who actually makes some money from it,” Coupon Ninja’s Amy Johnson, a millennial herself, points out. “Instagram users with lots of followers may find that larger companies will sponsor them (as in, pay them) for using their account to promote certain products in their photos.”

Katie Rodgers, an artist and former nine-to-fiver, is living proof. How much money does she make from her Instagram sponsorships? “Enough that I could quit my job, move into a one-bedroom on the Upper East Side, and travel. My salary has multiplied since my corporate days,” she claims.

Obviously, a lot of work has to go into building an audience that’s large enough to attract a sponsorship offer, but once the audience is there, the opportunities become more likely. Now there are even websites and agencies that are dedicated to helping millennials identify such opportunities.

  1. Growth of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has been a common method of making money online for years. But it really took off when social media entered the picture and gave people the ability to connect instantly with millions of potential customers from around the world.

Launching affiliate marketing can require a substantial amount of time, effort, and investment, but it can become a profitable endeavor if you can get it kicking on all cylinders. The process entails developing enticing content, driving traffic to that content, attracting a lot of followers, and ultimately encouraging people to purchase the products you endorse.

Millennials with a business mindset and the will to succeed are pursuing this strategy.

  1. Social Media as the Catalyst

Finally, it’s crucial to note that social media is ultimately no more than a catalyst. While some millennials use it as a direct source of monetization, most are more likely to leverage social networking platforms as the foundation for their activities.

In other words, social media represents a marketing and lead-generation tool. Millennials build audiences on social media and then seek to funnel their brand image into other ventures.

For example, some entrepreneurs will start on social media and then segue into eBooks, courses, or products that their captive audience will purchase. Others build a personal brand and then convert that equity into lucrative speaking engagements. The possibilities are endless.

What Does the Future Hold?

As the months pass, it’s looking as if the former norm of the 40-hour workweek is not only weakening, but possibly even sinking into permanent history. While there will always be nine-to-five jobs, millennials aren’t interested in suffering through their careers, just to pay the bills and save for retirement.

They want to engage with other people, play an active role in social movements, and use their creativity to earn their paycheck. To millennials, work is less about the regular pay — though they certainly aren’t opposed to making significant amounts of money — and more about the experience. This can be difficult for older generations to grasp, but it’s apparent fact.

One thing we know about millennials: They don’t sit still for long. They aren’t nearly as wedded to habit as previous generations, and they love the idea of transformation and progress.

So new trends are sure to surface as new social networking behaviors evolve. We may not be able to predict what the long-term effects of social media and entrepreneurship will be in the American workplace over the long term, but there’s a strong chance the entrepreneurial outlook will be entirely positive.


This article was written by Larry Alton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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