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Young People's Need for Storytelling, Truth, and Purpose

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To better represent FEE's mission through its user experience designs and digital identity, FEE has conducted marketing research about its target audience, specifically young people's online behavior, method of forming personal identity, as well as needs and expectations. The research has brought to light that FEE should use its digital presence to form meaningful relationships with young people through storytelling and transparency as well as by appealing to their sense of civic duty and practicality. 

How do young people form opinions?

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  • 88% of millennials get news from Facebook*
  • 83% of millennials get news from YouTube*
  • 50% of millennials get news from Instagram*

“This generation tends not to consume news in discrete sessions or by going directly to news providers. Instead, news and information are woven into an often continuous but mindful way that Millennials connect to the world generally, which mixes news with social connection, problem solving, social action, and entertainment.”1 *

Even with a method of news consumption that is flexible, the purpose of such activity fits into three distinct categories. The motivations for consuming news are social (what are my friends talking about), civic (how do I become a well-informed citizen), practical (how can I use this information for my career and studies).1 

Since the majority of FEE’s visitors enter through Facebook, the social need is already being satisfied but the practical and civic needs have not been met on FEE.org. FEE can design interfaces that increase the average session time by meeting these two needs. This means displaying relevant content in a visually enticing way (practical) and demonstrating how FEE will help visitors be well-informed citizens helping their community (civic).

Difference between high school and college students?

“Among those under age 25, only a third describe themselves as active seekers, while two-thirds say the news finds them.”1 

High school students tend to consume news that comes to them through their community and social media. As a result, after these students enter FEE.org through Facebook for example, FEE can work to keep them hooked through visuals and relevant content. However, older college students are often active seekers of "hard news" and rely increasingly on written news and study. So, after such a student enters the site through a search engine, demonstrating credibility and viability for research is crucial. Whether it is for a new homepage, digital marketing strategy, or website upgrade, utilizing content such as a visible "about us" or "FEE's history and purpose" section could effectively display why the world needs FEE's perspective and thus why students should care. Not only does this increase credibility, but also as Simon Sinek said in his TED Talk with over 44 million views: it gets past the "what" and "how" to the "why", which is what speaks to and motivates people to take action and do great things.3

When do young people form political opinions?

Not relevant, due to the reality that most young people strive to explore perspectives different from their own. Since the majority of FEE.org users share the same ideological stance as FEE, “perspective seekers” with varying political opinions should be targeted.

  • 86% of millennials report seeing diverse opinions through social media.1*
  • “Once they encounter news, moreover, nearly 9 in 10 report usually seeing diverse opinions, and three-quarters of those report investigating opinions different than their own.”1 

By spelling out FEE’s founding purpose, mission, or about on key pages, young people will be able to identify FEE as possessing the freedom or libertarian perspective. With such an identification, visitors will come back to FEE.org when they want that perspective for an issue or debate. This strategy will use FEE’s media bias/tilt as an asset demonstrating unique content and likely decrease the bounce rate as a result.

Attributes of thought leaders

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Appealing to thought leaders

With the long-term goal of attracting new users to FEE, it is recommended to target new visitors looking for perspective, insight, and direction (not regulars, believers, or evangelists who are willing to do more clicks until they get to their intended destination.

Recommendations for future work

“Today, first impressions are often digital—and digital first impressions are very important to Millennials. ‘When the surveyed Millennials go to nonprofit websites, nearly 9 out of 10 of them will go first to the page that describes the mission of the organization.’”2*

For college students looking for career and academic success, it is a must for FEE to provide credibility through its "digital first impression." This can be done through transparency and a highly visible about us section as well as by utilizing the bandwagon effect through social media icons/follower bases.

For high school students looking for a short-term satisfaction of interest, FEE can provide visual representation of attractive and relevant ideas. 

“’Seeing the difference I make” is an influential factor. When I participate, I want it to be about being part of something positive rather than just feeling sorry about something negative. I would like to be part of what [the nonprofit] is doing so I can be really involved in planning and know what funding is going for and if I agree with it or not.’”2

For any young person looking for belonging and a "difference" in the community, FEE is a source of "something more": an organization facilitating their journey to meaning through FEE's digital presence and by showing how to help and get involved. Activism work has gained much popularity among young people in recent years, so it is essential for FEE to provide the fuel for these individuals to get started fighting for the "freedom philosophy."

It is a must to offer the freedom philosophy as a lifestyle by demonstrating its merits through “knowledge products.” It is not advisable to force the freedom philosophy on young people by portraying FEE's digital presence as one of a journalistic media authority. Overall, FEE is one option and not the definite answer as an educational organization.

*Note: While Gen Z and Millennials are different demographic groups, Millennial trends had to be generalized to identify "young people" in general due to the difficulty of gathering information about minors' digital activity. 

References

[1] Media Insight Project from American Press Institute

[2] Applying Millennial Research to Free-Market Education

[3] How Great Leaders Inspire Action

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