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The Rise of 'YouthNation' and How to Use Instagram to Reach Millennials

by Matt Britton  |  
June 5, 2015

As CEO of a creative and tech agency, I've spent considerable time in the boardrooms of major corporate marketers, and I've gotten an understanding of their business challenges and needs. But I've also gotten an inside look at the major disconnect between their knowledge of the marketplace and the groundswell of disruption and change being driven by youth culture.

Many of today's business leaders do not understand that youth culture is no longer counterculture as it was in the '60s and '70s. Instead, our nation's youth have become the driving force behind innovation, growth, and competitive advantage globally.

For brands today, the old marketing models are over. That status quo is dead. Our rapidly shifting marketplace requires businesses to be agile, connected, authentic, artful, meaningful, immersive, and socially responsible.

In other words, to succeed, businesses have to embody the ideals of today's "YouthNation."

What follows is based on an excerpt from my book, YouthNation: Building Remarkable Brands in a Youth-Driven Culture, which is a brand road map to the youth-driven economy that will help businesses large and small harness the enormous power of youth.

The Instagram Phenomenon

Considering the increasing predominance of images at the core of communication, it was only a matter of time before a social network broke through to serve that exact purpose. In October 2010, a former Google employee named Kevin Systrom and his college friend Mike Krieger created Instagram, a mobile application that served a simple purpose: allowing users to edit and share pictures with friends and followers.

The growth of Instagram was predicated on YouthNation's desire to share what they were experiencing. The photo filters built into Instagram allowed even the most mundane experience to seem beautiful, the beautiful experiences of mountaintop sunsets or mornings on the beach to look incredible, and the amateur photographer to feel and look like a true artist for the amazement of friends, family, and the world at large.

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Matt Britton is founder and CEO of New York-based MRY, a creative and technology agency with social at the core.

Twitter: @MattyB

LinkedIn: Matt Britton

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  • by Tim Chambliss Fri Jun 5, 2015 via web

    Thanks for this, @MattyB.

    I have a question about promotions as it relates to building Instagram follows. Knowing that advertising is despised on Instagram (just read some of the comments under the very first ad that was placed on the platform) would YouthNation find it palatable to see a great photo of the product coupled with a unique offer? Is this still too much? I've seen some very successful promotions by local businesses (in particular, "like this photo and tag a friend in the comments to win") that look great but still seem to function as "advertising."

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

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