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Millennials, love us or hate us, are here to stay. Over our relatively short but impressive lifespans, we have added a variety of unofficial terms and sayings to our everyday lingo. For marketers to target today’s millennials in a broader scope, they need to develop a fluency in our language cues, culture and overall uniqueness that sets us apart from the world.

I am a clear product of that overall uniqueness, and I know most would say that I live up to the definition of being a part of Generation Y. Here are five key traits about today’s millennial consumers along with correlations to my life:

  • Mobile technology is their first language Mobile technology makes marketing easier. I don’t have to sit behind a desk all day to get my job done. I have the ability to do it 24/7 from anywhere I want.
  • We are social butterflies – I have the need to know everything about everything. This makes my professional life easier because I am always on top of the latest social media strategies and marketing trends.
  • Collaboration and cooperation are key – Have you ever heard of the phrase “teamwork makes the dream work”? That’s a lifestyle nowadays. Why I am clearly more than capable of being independent, everything seems to run much more smoothly when everyone works towards the same goal.
  • There is a desire for adventure and discovery – Today’s world is much more accessible than it’s ever been before. We can seemingly get everything done from anywhere we need to. I can sit on the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, turn on a Wi-Fi hotspot from my iPhone, and get all of the work I need done from my computer or tablet.
  • We are passionate and value-driven in everything we do – I get invested in anything I put my mind to, work or play. I like to make it a point that I can get everything done in life, and I am never scared to show it.

These traits are engrained into me and are part of my everyday life, personally and professionally. With that said, here are some popular words and phrases that my generation uses, along with an accompanying “PG-13” definition.

Words:

Savage – an act that is considered cool and extreme, with a touch of being unhinged and untamed.

Woke – an adjective describing someone who is alert and is always plugged into trends and issues.

Salty – an adjective describing someone who is giving off a negative vibe.

Shade – to throw “shade” at someone is to negatively critique or talk down to them.

Fleek – an adjective describing someone as cool, trendy or on-point; usually phrased as “on fleek”.

Trolling – a more common term, but not what you think. It means you are just having “fun” with someone; leading them on.

Squad – a group of people; specifically friends.

Fam – a shortened term for a family or a close friend group.

Swol – to describe someone who has exercised or worked out.

Basic – describing someone who likes stereotypical things that others like. Someone who is lacking character and personality.

Turnt – to be in or “turn up” to full party mode; to take to the next level.

YAAAS – It’s yes, but with more excitement. The number of A’s determine how excited you are.

Phrases:

“I Can’t Even” being overwhelmed with any emotion to the point of not handling something.

“It’s Lit” used to describe a place or action that is extremely fun; often used to describe a party.

“The Struggle is Real” an ironic phrase used when involved in a semi-difficult situation, but the situation is in-fact very tolerable.

These are just a handful of words and phrases I use or hear every day. Text message abbreviations, hashtags, memes and emoticons (emojis) should be treated as one in the same, but that’s another topic for another day. (YAAAAAAAS!).

When reaching out to millennials, learn what each word and phrase mean. For me, it can be hilarious or very weird when words and their meanings are mixed up in advertisements. However, it could be embarrassing for your business. For example, you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) use the word savage or turnt when targeting young teenagers or children. Once a parent reads into it and researches the potential meaning, your business might receive a negative complaint or review, and it could go downhill from there.

A real-life example of millennial marketing gone awry is something Microsoft attempted while trying to get new recruits. It backfired rather awkwardly, as the recruiters used phrases and words like “dranks”, “hella noms”, “getting lit” and more to invite interns to a party through email. It seemingly meant Microsoft supported partying into the late hours of a work night. They were mocked on social media for being inappropriate.

One of the best ways to reach millennials is to come up with content that’s original and unique to your brand. Your company doesn’t have to force modern lingo or culture down our throats. The best thing you can do is have originality and develop your own sense of coolness.