This is your brain on Instagram

by Nick Shore, MTV Insights


"We have been taking a lot of disposable camera photos and when the light is low, sometimes they create this pixelated amazingness." - photo & quote from Beach House

In the movie Being John Malkovich, when confronted with the surreal truth that people had been renting space behind his eyes, JM famously melts down, screaming “But it’s my HEAD”. However, if it were say 2013, and Malkovich were, say, the lead singer of an indie band or an EDM DJ, he might have just given an n.b.d. shoulder shrug, or even put a logo on it…..

We have been hearing more and more in our work about how social media, particularly visual forms like Instagram, have created an “open source” portal directly into the “midstream” of artists, musicians and so on, a stream that can be accessed directly by anyone. 

"…following a band on instagram is like literally seeing the world through their eyes…" said John, a 20 year old on a panel we ran connecting young fans with music industry executives recently in Los Angeles.  "it’s like what they see, you see, in real time…"

This dynamic runs even deeper though, we think, based on what we have been hearing more and more frequently from our audeince of late. It is as if social media forms like Tumblr provide direct access to the actual creative inspiration, process and “spirit” of the artist/musician/talent.  

The experience  is like plugging directly into their “creative jugular” as one 20-something music fan described it, “and mainlining it”. 

It’s a fascinating modern development for a generation that runs on high octane creativity and inspiration. We have known for some time that in this culture of celebrity  everyone wants to get behind-the-behind-the scenes. Yesterday at Social Media Week we discussed what we call the Zero Distancing between those in front of and those behind the screen. But “mainlining” into the creative wellspring of the famous seems like a whole new, almost narcotic level. “It’s a rush” one panelist commented…”like, this is your brain….this is your brain on Instagram”. 

Zero-Distancing: The Collapsing Distance Between Fan & Celebrity

By Alison Hillhouse,  MTV Insights

* Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come in @MTVInsights presentation at Social Media Week NYC on Feb 20th *

 It’s no longer unusual for the biggest pop star in the world to wish you luck on your math test, or for a reality star to forgo therapy and solicit advice from 8 million teen fans.  The pedestal has been dismantled by social media tools in the hands of a generation that loves to flatten hierarchies. We indeed live in a flat world  where fans demand not just a VIP pass to celebs, artists and entertainment experiences, but an eye-to-eye view.

 This is the age of “Zero-distancing”

 As Julian, 21, says “Today, artists can be your best friends.” So conversations like this between Nicole (@trukardashfan) and Khole Kardashian about Nicole’s upcoming midterms aren’t unusual:


As Nicole says, “Khloé always makes time to talk to all of her fans. Whenever I get a tweet from her it makes me so happy because it feels  like we are close since we communicate often.”

Millennials also crave intimate glimpses into the mundane daily activities of their favorite celebrities, such as Taylor’s cat claw clipping:


We hear from Millennials that they click through various social media channels to get different perspectives into a celeb’s life, like different video camera angles at a live performance. Each social media channel serves a distinct & unique purpose:

·         Facebook is the most “formal and official outlet” for tour updates and information

·         Twitter offers a “blow-by-blow feed”, and highlights interactions with other celebrities

·         Instagram provides a direct line into their literal world-view, like “seeing the world through their eyes”

·         Tumblr is the most intimate glimpse into an artists’ psyche/spirit. Jessica, 25, explains that it allows fans to get a authentic glimpse into an artist’s creative inspiration and process… it “shows how artists express themselves, the aesthetic that makes them tick.”

@MTVInsights will be speaking more about “zero-distancing” on February 20th at New York’s Social Media Week. We’ll start with a teen panel who will speak about their virtually-intimate relationships with celebs in social media, and then be joined by Viacom stars who will speak about their experience interacting with fans:

·         Nev Schulman from MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show”

·         Drita D’Avanzo from VH1’s “Mob Wives”

·         Cody Alan from CMT’s “Hot 20 Countdown” and nightly syndicated radio show, “CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan”

·         Ivy Winters from Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Sign up here! Event will take place at Viacom’s headquarters in Times Square, 1515 Broadway.

(This article was originally published as a guest-post at Social Media Week)

Safe Sex 2.0?

By Matt Cohen, MTV Insights


In true Millennial fashion, the students behind the recently-launched “NYU Hook Ups” Facebook page are taking an organized and responsible approach to…well, anonymous sex.  Tackling their new venture with the same dedication and efficiency they’d normally reserve for an extracurricular activity, these students are helping classmates hook up faster and smarter.

Why waste time scanning through hundreds of OKCupid profiles when you can post anonymously on NYU Hook Ups and wait for the “Likes” from potential hook up buddies to roll in?

Some of “NYU Hook Ups” safety and efficiency features include:

  • a 2-step verification process to confirm that hook-up seekers are actual NYU students (No need to open yourself up to Craigslist randos  when you can stay within the safety of your college bubble)
  • a commitment to keeping post-ers “100% anonymous” and to “hook[ing] you up in less than 24 hours” (Sure beats Match.com’s six-month guarantee)
  • an advisory urging users to “be careful” and “always make sure to use condoms” (Thank you free NYC condoms!)

As Millennials take unexpectedly responsible approaches towards other “taboo” or “rebellious” behaviors – whether it’s serving as the sober “babysitter” for a friend who is planning to get wasted or using home testing kits to make sure their molly is free of “harmful substances” – this generation is truly redefining what it means to have “good clean fun.”

UPDATE: NYU Hook Ups announced yesterday that they will be transitioning over to a full site with a more sophisticated interface.  Could we be witnessing the birth of a new start-up?


Twitter is Trending

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.”

Filtered followers

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

OMG: Want to Reach Millennials? You Have to, Like, Speak Their Language

- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/2/2012 2:22:28 PM

A recently released study conducted with a panel of 100 millennials by MTV advises that if marketers take the time to understand the everyday language of their target audience, they can speak to them more effectively.

Fluency in the particular language cues of the current generation, the study says, could serve as a valuable tool for marketers to package relatable messages to a millennial audience in their ad campaigns.

The study also says marketers should draw on what millennial lingo reveals about them, namely:

  1. The desire to be seen as smart and funny; and appreciation for clever and quick wit
  2. and authenticity
  3. A heightened sense of drama about their own lives
  4. Optimism over rebellion

The MTV study — titled “What Millennials Are Just Sayin’” — adds that throughout the 2000s, millennials have ushered in their own vernacular reflective of digital culture and gaming influences. In it, MTV takes a look at the everyday jargon of 18-24 year-olds.

Here are the findings.

Pop culture, movies and television have always had a profound impact on youth slang. Millennial slang draws on all these, plus a rapidly evolving digital landscape and a slew of other sources that include:

  • Gaming: Millennials view life as a multi-player game, and have found ways to integrate “gamer speak” into everyday life. Examples include: epic, win, fail.
  • Texting: “Text-speak” is used nearly as much offline as it is on digital platforms, giving millennials a way to codify their lingo and turn it into a secret language for those in-the-know. Examples include: smh, tfm.
  • Smart & Funny Icons: Millennials’ desire to be seen as smart and funny in social media like “Twit-wit” star Mindy Kaling has spawned a whole set of lingo and symbols that help make Facebook posts or Tweets just a hint more clever. Examples include: just sayin’, really, smh, #.
  • Tabloid Culture and Reality TV: Reality culture offers a heightened sense of drama, making millennials think of their own lives in a more dramatic sense. Examples include: fml, drama, epic.
  • Social Networking: The limitless ability to post feedback on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking tools has spurred new ways to like or dislike what others post. Examples include: lmao, hahahaha.

In the digital space, millennials use abbreviations liberally. Song lyrics also play a role in how millennials express themselves online.

  • Abbreviations: Millennials often abbreviate words and sayings as an added layer to fuel the wit in what they are saying, using shorthand such as lol, omg, fml, ttyl, wtf, smh.
  • Lyric-speak: In the same way that abbreviating phrases is cool and witty, song lyrics can catch on and play the same role of self-expression, adding an extra layer of in-the-know wit. Examples include: u fancy huh, hey yo, crunk, going hard, swag, deuces.
  • Authenticity: One word that stands out is “legit,” meaning credible and not fake. This go-to word reflects just how much this generation values authenticity.

The words “awesome,” “love” and “cool” seem timeless among young people and continue to be go-to favorites. But millennials have also come up with some synonyms for “cool,” taking it to another level.

  • Hyper-speak: Given how much content millennials are exposed to, in order for something to stand out, it has to be disruptive and different. This is evident in what they say their favorite words are.
  • Things aren’t just cool, they are “awesome,” “amazing,” “fantastic,” “epic” and “crazy.”
  • Happy-speak: As a whole, millennials are generally thought of as a positive and optimistic generation, especially compared to the rebellious spirit associated with Gen-Xers in their youth.
  • This optimism is reflected in their language: “wonderful,” “smile,” “happy,” “beautiful” and “special” top their list of favorite words.

Analyzing millennial slang reveals their desire to be seen as “smart and funny,” the theme of reinvention tension, and their tendency toward drama.

  • Smart + Funny is the new rock ‘n’ roll: Being “smart” is social currency with millennials, and social media is the place to display clever wit as well as hint at intellectual superiority. Humor is fast paced, un-PC, reference-laden, mashed-up, Facebook-able and disposable.
  • [Epic] fail: originally a gamer term, now mainstreamed to mean a failure so pathetic that it’s funny.
  • Really?: subtle way to demonstrate smarts by knocking down what is unintelligent or obvious
  • Just sayin’: way to show you disagree or disapprove, but with a hint of humor.
  • Frenemy: friend + enemy

Gaga-ism: The quest to be interesting, original and self-reinventing is amplified by an unlimited digital landscape for content discovery and Facebook material.

  • Random: quirky and disconnected; what no one else has imagined, i.e. a YouTube video of Abe Lincoln and Chuck Norris rapping together
  • Generic: way too obvious to be interesting, like a Chinese symbol tattoo
  • Cheesy: obvious, lacking in nuance or layers
  • Typical: doesn’t spark the interest of clever people; often used as a smug remark after the fact (i.e. “that’s so typical”)

The Me Show: While teens have always been known for overdramatic tendencies, reality TV, mega-budget films like Avatar and epic games like Halo 3 heighten Millennials’ sense of drama. Many believe their drama-filled lives are reality TV-worthy, or at the very least, Facebook worthy.

  • Drama: someone who unnecessarily overreacts (“she’s too much drama”) or a way to brag about your exciting life
  • Ridiculous: a person or situation that is crazy, unbelievable or out-of-control
  • Fml: my life is so full of drama, I need to emphatically ensure that everyone is aware

Huffington Post: MTV and the “Curated ME”

by Steve Rosenbaum

Well, kids these days. It’s easy to write off the changes in the digital world as the result of behavior that is relegated to the age of adolescents and young adulthood.

But that’s wrong — very wrong.

What’s changing for young people is changing for all of us. How we connect, how we share. How we present our digital selves.

And the single presentation that brought this point home was given by Britta Schell, MTV’s Director of Digital Strategic Insights as she spoke at the Pivot Conference in NYC.

In a powerful collection of research that was both anecdotal and carefully vetted, Schell painted a picture of Millennials today. A picture that gives us powerful insight into the future, if we understand that young people’s relationship to the web today is already, in many ways, the behavior we’re all seeing broadly in the always-on world.

What did MTV learn? There no longer is a world called OFFLINE. Young people send 3,146 texts per month, over 100 a day. They watch more than 100 online videos a month. And they spend 20 hours online every day — multitasking.

Millennials are born between 1980-2001, digital natives with an intertwined real life and digital life.

The presentation was called ‘Millennials: Decoded’, and was broken into four findings. The Curated Me, Publicly Intimate, Like-A-Holism and Digi-Quette.

The Curated Me
Millennials have grown up with a 24/7 news cycle and reality TV. They know the power of branding and publicity. Every day they act as their own digital publicists, curating and monitoring the ‘me’ brand. Said one young person, “I’m on Twitter all day.” And another, “I can’t put my phone down.”

What does this mean? John L. Jackson, Professor of Communications and Anthropology at the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania, explained, Facebook and the phone are no longer tools, they’re part of who they are: “They’re almost like prosthetic extensions of themselves.” Is this curated me accidental, or purposeful? “You are the author of what gets put out there,” said one MTV viewer. This curation of your brand image extends beyond posts. It’s how you look in pictures, it’s what you link to, what music you listen to. Today photos are airbrushed, makeup fixed, and people you don’t like edited out of the picture. Millennials want to “portray a positive image.” One-third of young people interviewed said they ALWAYS modify their photos online. Said one viewer: “You’re in a lot more control, so you can take the things you are and magnify them, or take the things you want to be and completely fabricate them.”

Publicly Intimate
One thing is immediately clear, not all platforms are treated the same. 94% agreed that texts are private. While platforms like Twitter and FB status are public, with FB being more superficial, and Twitter more real, phone calls are the least welcome, because they can be ‘awkward.’ Some topics are public, while others private. Interestingly, sexual orientation is considered public — while subjects like politics, religion, and risqué and controversial jokes are more private. What this means is that increasingly, we’re modifying our voice and message to match the character and community of a network. Schell tells of teens who will post music on their Facebook, knowing that their close friends will ‘de-code’ the lyrics and understand what’s going on in their life.

Research found that Millennials are hungry for immediate, positive digital feedback. Posting a picture, or a link, they expect a burst of comments, or ‘likes’. Said one of the viewers: “Everyone wants to be loved. If you have posts, texts, likes, even an email. It’s someone trying to communicate to you. There’s something invigorating about that.” And that immediate feedback is a powerful connection with the wider world. Said another: “I feel famous when I’m on Twitter. There are a couple people who re-tweet everything I say.”

The data is compelling here. 79% of respondents said their generation expects feedback, and 58% feel more confident when others respond. 33% said they feel disappointed when others don’t respond, and 23% said they feel alone if they don’t get feedback.

While the point that Schell makes regarding the almost compulsive need to get positive feedback certainly rings true, I’m not sure that using the phrase ‘a-holism’ is useful, since it sounds like alcoholism — and addiction — which suggests it’s a compulsion with a cure. I hope that’s not the case. I hope it’s a new behavior that in the end creates a more connected, more engaged, more interactive community. And evolution, not an addiction.

The etiquette of the always-on-web is emerging as a series of social behaviors. They can’t really be taught about it, because they know more about it than the older generation. Says one expert: “It’s like the air they breathe.”

And they’re sophisticated about the nature of the web, saying that they edit what they say and do online, understanding that it can be distributed and never erased.

Said one respondent: “I have a secret identity as well. I have my Facebook personality, and then I have the me that my friends see. It’s me, but it’s the outer shell. It’s not all of me.” Says John L. Jackson of Annenberg, “The only way of being real in the 21st century is in, and through, all of this technology.”

So, what does this mean?

Well, in some ways it is the evolution of our society from physical to digital. In the past we knew that we had to behave one way at work, another in a public park, and another at Church or Synagogue. Now those behaviors move online. But what changes is the velocity and frequency of how the Millennials change networks and voices. At any given moment, they can be participating in multiple networks, each with their own level of visibility or privacy. They’re a powerful group of emerging creators and consumers, with new expectations of connectedness, responsiveness, and engagement. Britta Schell at MTV says that Millennials have $990 billion in potential spending power, so brands best take notice of how they engage and expect to be engaged.

One thing is for certain, if the new generation created is the Curated Me, then understanding what they edit in, and what they choose to cut out is going to be critically important.

Things Millennials Like….

Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights

1. They seem to like poking fun at themselves…in that self-referential-post-modern-we-are-in-on-the-joke-about-how-others-see-us way:

The now defunct yet wildly popular “Stuff White People” Like seemed to launch the “Stuff____people____” genre in 2008, and since then we’ve seen a whole host of sites and handles that reflect this satirical Millennial mainstay: @TotalFratMove and @TotalSororMove, @BetchesLuvThis (which pokes fun of many a young women’s obsession with having a gay BFF, claiming to have ADD and “Betch of the Week” Pippa Middleton), “15 Things White Girls Do on Facebook” (share pictures of undeserving food, post complaints like “Never eating at AppleBees AGAIN” or publically thank their hubby for being the best hubby in the world)….

… all of which has has inexorably led to the massive viral video series “Shit Girls Say”. The original video has over 14 million viewers and a cameo by Juliette Lewis to boot. In the comments section of this video are a massive pile of “I hate to admit it…but this is SO me!”

So we talked to our MTV Millennial advisory board to dig a little deeper into this phenomenon, to try to understand how they really feel about these kinds of sites and humor and what’s driving all the eyeballs.

First they told us about their generational trait to want to celebrate a more flawed, real side of themselves….something we’ve heard described as “flawsome.” As Amanda, 24, puts it “Who wants to hang out with someone who is really proud of themselves all the time? Flawless can be boring, and cocky, one-uppers are pretty exhausting and annoying.” In fact, 79% of our MTV Millennial panel claims “It’s cool to make fun of yourself.”

Second, we heard that when your whole life is on display on Facebook, the stakes are very high if you don’t have a sense of humor about it. All the posts where you reflected deeply on Kings of Leon lyrics…where on earth do you go with that if you can’t have a public laugh at yourself for it?

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we heard that Millennials don’t want to look the fool who is out of the loop. It’s important to be in on the joke….and the best way to do that it to create the joke. As we’ve noted before, smart ‘n’ funny is the new rock ‘n’ roll, with the emphasis on smart.  Amanda, 24, correlates this desire to poke fun of ourselves with the popularity of Snooki “We’d rather be the first ones to poke fun at ourselves instead of waiting for someone to criticize us for it. I think Snooki is the perfect example of this. She’s totally laughing with us. She knows the hair, and the pickles and the tanning are over-the-top ridiculous, but she owns it and she’s the first one to laugh at herself. That’s why Snooki holds a special place in our hearts.”

This is, it seems, the age of hyper-consciousness of how you are portraying yourself to the public, as you “come of age, on stage.” And with this self-awareness also comes self-reflection, a constant analysis, synthesis, remixing and reposting of one’s attitudes and behaviors.  As Jaclyn, 18, puts it “I think a defining feature of my generation is we often feel like we’re living in our own reality show…writer, director, cast, and editor…”

Full disclosure, as an Xer, I’m jealous of Millennials. We didn’t laugh for a single second at of our obsession with Saved by the Bell. And I was that suburban white girl driving my parents’ SUV around, blasting 90’s hip-hop like Gin & Juice… without a even a hint of absurdity.

AdAge: Five Tips for Marketers From MTV’s Study of Millennials’ Digital Habits

It’s Not Just a Medium, It’s an Ingrained Part of the Younger Generation’s Culture

By: Nick Shore

Published: July 20, 2011

MTV was Facebook’s No. 1 fastest-growing brand last year. As we experienced this meteoric rise in social media, we were also madly studying our audience to understand their movements and behavior in the social space, or what we came to call their “digilife.”

The study that emerged from that work turned over a plethora of fresh insights into what makes this generation tick (or should I say what makes this generation click).

The insights lead, we believe, to some provocative questions for the marketers attempting to connect with this elusive crowd in its native tongue and on its digital home turf.

Here are some findings from our study, posed as a few key questions that marketers might want to consider as they strategize about how to connect to the latest version of consumers.

Does your brand follow the rules of digital etiquette?
Millennials are no different than any other generation in that they’re trying to work out how to look and be cool when they’re hanging out with their friends. The difference, of course, is that so much of this behavior is being navigated in a completely new, digital world. Extraordinarily nuanced codes and informal rules of behavior are emerging in social media. Overshare and you’re hidden in the feed (de-friending being so overly confrontational and all). Respond too fast and too frequently and you’re overeager and deeply uncool. In our “Millennials, Decoded” study, half of smartphone-toting millennials said they were “very concerned” that if they responded too quickly, they’d “look like they had nothing better to do.”

Can my brand proxy for my audience?
One of the more surprising findings of the study is that if you’re too personally controversial you run the risk of garnering negative attention in the social media space. Only about one-third of respondents feel that, for example, politics (36%) and religion (35%) are appropriate for public posting online. What we observed many of the millennials doing, however, was being controversial by proxy. They rip and re-purpose content (show clips, stand-up, music videos, ads) and let that do the talking (and take the risks) for them. Over half (54%) posted video clips or articles they agreed with, “instead of posting my opinion as a status update.”

Do you know your consumer and your brand well enough to be able to create content in the overlap that could serve this proxy role? Virality, we believe, is connected to this proxy role.

Does your brand curate its online identity, like a millennial?
Young people have always experimented with questions of identity. Part of the natural process of growing up is to wonder and play with who we are and who we will become. However, raised on a steady diet of reality TV, blogging and Facebook profiling, millennials have become not just seasoned self-broadcasters but master curators of their identity. Each operates a little like a one-man director, editor and special effects expert of the movie called self; each is a mogul of her own “me”dia.

The sheer speed and dexterity of this self-curation is remarkable to behold. Ninety percent told us it’s important how others view them and their reputation on Facebook, so they constantly and fluidly shift between chosen identities in order to present their “best selves and lives.” In our study, a full one-third of respondents said that they not just sometimes but “always modify their photos before posting online.” We heard anecdotes of attending parties and events just for the photos they could post later.

What would it mean for a brand, we wondered, to be engaged in a process of constantly curating and refining its identity, especially in this online environment — such as the simple example of the way Google is living a constant jazz riff on its homepage logo, or the more extreme case of Geico’s flexible creative strategy (cavemen, gecko and googly-eyed Kash) addressing millennial humor through a variety of lenses. Or Amex’s push to build equity with a younger audience with its flexible, consumer-defined Zync product without alienating or underserving the older Platinum crew. Brands are already starting to play with fluid identity in a way that’s native and natural to millennials.

How intense is your brand’s feedback loop?
Is the refresh button the new cigarette? We saw in the field and in the data a very high degree of what we nicknamed ‘like-a-holism,’ a kind of addiction to feedback among millennials. Over 60% demand immediate feedback for text messages and almost 70% for IM/Facebook chat. And a broad majority of the millennials we studied demand same-day feedback for all digital communication platforms. Why? Maybe because 63% feel more connected when they get feedback, and 58% report a boost in confidence. And a quarter feel alone when they don’t receive feedback, underlining its importance in keeping millennials in the loop.

The air that the new consumer breathes is responsive. The world doesn’t just talk back, it hyper-responds, and is engaged in a powerful and intense feedback loop. Is your brand engaged in a thousand points of conversation — listening and responding?

To tweet or to Tumble, that is the question …
Prior generations dealt with a fairly limited number of communication options: the phone call, the letter, the fax. Many Gen-Xers were already into their 20s before email became part of everyday life — and maybe into their 30s before the BlackBerry did.

This generation, on the other hand, has a set of communication tools of staggering breadth. One of the byproducts of these choices is using each device or platform in ever-more specialized ways. For example, phone only for emergencies, IM for working together on homework. Millennials also relate digital communication to its real-life intimacy counterpart, and see it as an equal way of connecting. Mallory, 22, told us “sending an email is like going out to dinner and Facebook is like getting coffee or just seeing someone at the store.”

How nuanced is your brand in its choice of communication platform? If you have the right message but it’s in the wrong medium, you may be conducting a frequency faux pas.

Digispace is like the real world, but it is also a world apart. It is a new place, a frontier one could say, where the rules and laws and ways of being are still forming. Millennials, the first natives to this new land, have disproportionate power in how this new world is shaping up. So if you want your businesses and brands to thrive there as they do elsewhere, keep your eye on the them.

Nick Shore is senior VP-strategic consumer insights and research at MTV. He is responsible for all of MTV’s research efforts across MTV, MTV2, mtv.com, mtvU and MTV Tr3s platforms.