Millennials Prefer Narrowcasting

This article was first published by Training Journal on August 4, 2016. 

The ever-changing landscape of social media is offering opportunities for learning technologies professionals. In particular when directing our efforts to cater to the millennial employee, we should carefully consider applying the tools this generation of learners heavily uses. Narrowcasting is one of those tools.

Research done by academic Felicity Duncan, associate professor at Cabrini College in the US, indicates a contrasting to popular belief fact: according to Duncan, millennials are not checking Facebook, nor are they checking LinkedIn or Twitter. Another study by Ipsos also shows that 27% of Millennials use Facebook less than once a week, while 11% don’t even have an account. Duncan also mentions that young people are moving away from what we can now call “broadcast social media” such as Facebook and Twitter. Increasingly Millennials prefer private, so-called “narrowcast platforms” such as Messenger or Snapchat.

Duncan highlights that in a study published in August last year, the Pew Research Center reported that 49% of smartphone owners between 18 and 29 use messaging Apps like Kik, WhatsApp, or iMessage, and 41% use apps that automatically delete sent messages, like Snapchat. According to another Pew study, only 37% of people in that age range use Pinterest, only 22% use LinkedIn, and only 32% use Twitter.

How does this affect learning technology solutions? The issue for organisations is that many have very recently unveiled shiny, new social media-style platforms for collaboration and learning and development designed in part to appeal to Millennials, only to find that the Millennials have shifted allegiance to a different kind of communication.

Instant, visual & malleable technologies

All technology services & software need to be constantly adapted to the users’ needs. Learning technologies and collaboration platforms are no different. Here are three steps you can take to ensure that your learning and development platform is keeping pace with real-world digital transformation:

  1. Respond to Millennials’ preference for instant narrowcast communication, from IM to Instagram, by offering some form of ‘live’ chat, enabling people to get answers to questions they have at the point of need – when they are actually undertaking the training module.
  2. Many of the latest digital platforms are highly image-intensive and people are increasingly communicating through images – from graphics to videos, emojis to vines – rather than traditional text. Training professionals can tap into this and ensure that training delivery is correspondingly visual. Many people are visual learners and it looks likely that this category of learners will only grow as people shift towards image-based communications. There is strong evidence that visual learning is effective even when it comes to verbal and text-based skills such as language acquisition.
  3. Revisit your blended learning offer regularly, supplementing it with the latest technologies and preferred means of communication. Learning provision combining formal learning, coaching mentoring and on-the-job support continues to be the most effective. Make sure that real-life human communication continues to be part of that mix, especially when it comes to language and communications learning and development.

Speexx has added an instant coaching live chat box to our learning platform – accessible from desktop and mobile devices, of course – to satisfy those learners that want rapid responses to questions. We have learned that if we are to keep ahead of the curve, digital transformation must be a continuous and responsive process that reflects the preferred modes of communication of all employees. By integrating the instant coaching feature in the Learner platform, learners can benefit from direct guidance at the point of need.