Stop trying to be Perfect. Start being Authentic.

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Snapchat may feel silly to us. but it is very real to our kids. and it is ultra sticky.

Millennials don’t care about our “glamorous” commercials, our “airbrushed” magazine ads, our “botoxed” billboards or our “optimized” pop up windows. Email? Ha. That’s what our kids use when they need to send a thank you note to their grandparents for their birthday gift.

Traditional advertising has become invisible to millennials, who, as a generation, don’t trust institutions. Political, Religious, and Corporate Institutions have let them down. Their trust is low and their BS radar is on high, all the time. They don’t trust media, they trust their network of peers. What they’re looking for is an unfiltered authentic connection.

 Stop trying to be perfect. Start being Authentic.

Here’s what I do know. My generation values hard work and perfection. We value a system of meritocracy and how all of it contributes to a well-earned path of achievement and a sustainable trajectory of formulaic success.

I also know my kids, who are in their teens, do not value formulas or perfection. They value transparency and authenticity.

 While we became fluent in perfection. They became fluent in authenticity.

This is the first generation that’s grown up online. They are, technologically, “ivy” leagues ahead of everyone else. That’s why, in order to better understand how to navigate the future of their consumer behavior in social, mobile, and cloud technology we must learn to learn to play by their rules. We need to let go of our need to be picture perfect and embrace the art and science of authentic, fascinating and even silly engagement.

Take, for example, Snapchat. It has over 100 million active daily users. The app is the fastest growing social channel because it most closely mimics the way our children actually interact. It’s genuine, raw and whimsical. In Snapchat, nobody cares about perfect grammar or double chins. Photo altering is for amusement and amplification, not to achieve a kind of unattainable perfection.

 Snapchat is a sneak peek into the future of consumer behavior

Most recently, Pokemon Go’s virtually started a revolution. It’s a game with more daily users than twitter and has fascinated the world so much that people (some of whom have been chronically depressed) are getting up off their couches to engage. They are walking their neighborhoods and interacting with strangers on a similar quest. They’re filling parks, libraries, and swarming around public art spaces.

That, by definition, is art. A creation so powerful it’s moved people to change their behavior, and explore new things. Snapchat and Pokemon Go has fascinated the world and changed the way we interact.

Something soon will come along and replace Snapchat and Pokemon Go. But what will remain is the blueprint for how millennials communicate and value genuine authenticity.

Consumer behavior is the gateway to understand the future of business. If we want our messaging to remain relevant, we must reverse engineer our social constructs and become fluent in their foreign language.

I have a confession: I don’t really understand how to Snapchat or Pokemon Go. It’s humbling for me to say that I’m not fluent in either of these languages. But I do understand marketing and I absolutely understand the radical shift. I’m happy to report that yesterday I started an account on Snapchat to try and learn.  I’m willing to stumble and make mistakes in an effort to connect. To grow. To move.

I’ll be the beta. If ya wanna watch me bumble thru snapchat follow me @erikwahl

Discipline of Creativity