By Riley Panko

In 2019, millennials will surpass baby boomers as the largest living generation in the United States.

Obviously, the term “millennial” is becoming a pervasive buzzword, and much has been written on how businesses can appeal to this generation. Yet, considering millennials are only just now becoming the majority of the U.S. population, there’s still much to learn.

Is your business considering building a social media app, or a mobile app with social features? Use the following tips to better build your app for millennials.

1. Understand how millennials feel comfortable communicating.

While some may scoff at the idea, it’s true – millennials hate talking on the phone more than older generations.

Back in 2015, texting surpassed phone calls as millennials’ primary form of communication. Some may say that the behavior signals laziness or a lack of key social skills. Others say that millennials are being polite, by choosing less intrusive communication methods, like email or text, first.

Regardless of the reason, this means that millennials are choosing to communicate via apps more.

A recent survey found that 21% of millennials open apps more than 50x per day, compared to only 2% of baby boomers who do the same.

“My parents are more likely to call me if they need to contact me,” said Dr. Selepak, director of the master’s degree in social media program at the University of Florida. “I think a lot of my other [millennial] friends forget that their phone makes phone calls. They’ll want to video chat or send a message through Snapchat or WhatsApp, but we almost never talk over the phone.”

You can target millennials by building an app that targets how they want to communicate. Consider how younger users prefer text and photo-based communication, as well as communication that requires less time commitment.

2. Focus on personalized content.

Millennials grew up surrounded by the internet. For them, the endless stream of information offered on Facebook or Twitter feels normal and might even feel overwhelming. Snapchat – which is disproportionately more popular among millennials – exemplifies how millennials might actually be desiring less information from their social media apps.

Anyone building a mobile app for millennials can learn from Snapchat’s approach. Snapchat succeeds because it appeals to millennials’ desire for on-demand, personalized content.

With Snapchat, “[Millennials] can choose to tune in and out,” explained Alex Levin, co-founder of L+R, a creative agency. “They’re not forced to look at everybody’s information. It puts them in control of seeing it or not.”

Millennials appreciate the more focused approach to communication. A 2014 survey found that younger users have more Facebook friends – the average user had about 350 friends, but users 18- to 24-years-old had about 649 friends.

Seeing information from 649 friends can be overwhelming. Snapchat allows users to pick and select who they truly want to communicate and see updates from. Furthermore, Snapchat’s focus on video-based content also helps the app feel more personal. Users tend to share less filtered and more stream of consciousness-style content on Snapchat.

“As Facebook has catered to everyone in the world, Snapchat has doubled down as being a place that still feels raw, unfiltered and personal,” said Josh Krakauer, founder and CEO of Sculpt, a social media marketing agency.

Reconsider if you were planning on replicating Facebook’s newsfeed. Millennials want to be kept up to date – but on their own terms.

3. Provide millennials the information and features they want.

Nearly 80% of millennials read or watch news on social media apps. This drops to 71% for Gen Xers and 55% for baby boomers.

While much has been discussed lately about the reliability of news found on social media, it’s true that millennials appreciate how all of their information – from friends’ and family member’s updates to international news – can be found in one source.

“People like being able to get their news at a global, national, local, and personal scale all in one place. It’s becoming a really powerful and effective way to do that,” said Krakauer.

Only by catering to this appreciation of ease of use can a social media app perhaps seek to compete for millennials. But understand that if your app wants to become a singular source of information for millennials, it will need to compete with the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram behemoths.

Millennials and Social Media Apps

Having spent much of their formative years tweeting, Snapchat-ing, and Instagram-ing, millennials will certainly have a different relationship to social media apps than older generations. Understanding what this generation prefers and how you can best cater to them is key for a successful social media app.

Millennials enjoy apps that cater towards written communication, focus on personalized content, and provide the information and features they want in one neat package.

Photo credit: Millennials using social media from Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock