Issue #358

Sent to members on September 27, 2021

Generational Shifts And How Online Business Changes

The other day, I was talking to a friend who does a lot of work on TikTok. And we were talking about the mindset differences with the younger generation.

He’s in a position to know since all the work he’s done online the last many years has been primarily targeting the younger demographic. He’s very much in tune with things there.

And it’s interesting. Here’s a few bullet points:

First, yes, there are definitely shorter attention spans. But, interestingly, it isn’t because they’re dumb or anything. He believes they’re just much more choosy about where their attention goes.

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In other words, they’ve got to be really motivated to move beyond the superficial. In terms of most online content, this generation is so used to complete gluttony of information that they’ve developed a natural barrier.

They grew up with social media. They don’t even remember the days of a phone being… just a phone. So, they will scroll through social feeds. Watch video clips. And they need to be communicated to in short spurts.

This is why TikTok works. Why you see things like Facebook Stories, or Youtube Shorts. Personally, I think all these things are stupid. But, I’m an old man now. 🙂 The younger generation eats these things up because they seem authentic and they’re short and they live on their phones.

It would be really easy to look at that and say they’ve got the attention span of a gerbil. It would be easy to complain. I’ve seen so many kids out there who can’t seem to focus on something for more than a minute or so. People don’t like to take any responsibility for it, so unfortunately a lot of normal, brilliant young people end up on drugs and being labeled. But, that’s another discussion for another time.

Point is…

These are smart, young people. Yes, short attention spans. But, it isn’t for lack of intellect. They’ve got a natural wall up that has been developed because of the world they grew up in and live in.


This information gluttony they’re used to has led them to be much more resistant to paying for information. Why pay for an online course, for instance, when everything is on Youtube? In many cases, they’ll even take pride in taking the extra time to find it for free rather than pay for it.

Even the paid stuff you see out there, you see it centralizing and getting cheaper. Streaming services like Netflix provide tons and tons of content for a low monthly fee. Sites like Skillshare offer tons and tons of training content for next to nothing.

And even there, they might join, binge watch the thing they’re interested in, then cancel.


They’re skeptical. Sometimes that skepticism is not aimed very well, because I definitely see other times were I think people fall for the the dumbest things. But, in terms of online business and selling stuff, this younger generation is skeptical of marketing.


Much of the younger crowd just isn’t that into email. The priority of email to them is much less and they use these social platforms for communication.

Now here’s the thing…

I think a lot of these massive adjustments have moved up the generation. It. isn’t just the kids. Much of the millennial generation (who now currently have kids of their own) have much of the same mindset. They’re in a transitional age range.

My own generation (I’m in my early 40’s) is likely the very last generation that actually remembers what it was like not to have all this tech. I remember having a TV with a handful of channels. I remember having a normal phone. I remember having a CORDED phone and dialing with a rotary dial. But, those memories will die with my generation.

Now, how do we adjust to these things?

Those of us who sell online and produce content need to think ahead a bit. We need to not get stuck in our ways. I know I’m an “old man” when it comes to the internet now. I’ve been doing this a long time. And I know I’m quite susceptible to not adapting. But, in this world, you adapt or die.

So, a few ideas I’ve thought about…

  • Not forcing long-form content consumption. The big redwood posts I’ve talked about serve important goals, but I think a lot of work should also go into creating short-form content out of those redwoods. Re-purposing for people with shorter attention spans.
  • Perhaps even format posts with the “cliff notes” version at the top. A way for people to get the big ideas real fast and not have to read everything. Give them the TLDR.
  • Start thinking about more backend ways of generating revenue than merely selling content. Realize that the monetary value of content is approaching zero. Probably more of a focus on “done for you” and “done with you” services and experiences and less on “buy my 5 module online course”.
  • Adapt the marketing mindset more toward branding. Realize that not all marketing has to look like marketing. And often, having it look like marketing is a turn-off. The younger generations are more about the imagery and feelings of a BRAND.

Think about it.

Things change. We need to adapt. And, us long-timers need to remember that those kids out there scrolling through TikTok are going to be making purchasing decisions and running the world one day. 🙂

Tech Talk

Awesome Motive has acquired Sandhills Development. Awesome Motive is the company behind OptinMonster, WP Forms, and many others. And SandHill owns AffiliateWP, Easy Digital Downloads, etc.

This is a rather big acquisition. And I have 2 immediate concerns about it:

  • We sure are seeing a lot of centralization lately in the world of WordPress, with a handful of companies owning and controlling large swaths of the ecosystem. I can’t say I like it.
  • Awesome Motive is a fine company and the founder (Syed) is an old friend of mine. But, I have to also say that I’ve seen this company have a tendency to be… greedy. I think they over-commercialize some of their stuff. And one Analytics plugin they acquired they straight-up ruined (read the story).

So, jury is still out on what will happen here. But, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see some changes to Easy Digital Downloads, AffiliateWP and many others now that Awesome Motive controls them. I hope the changes won’t be regrettable.

My friends at WP Manage Ninja (the guys behind FluentCRM and Fluent Forms) have released a brand new product: WP Social Ninja. And the plugin is currently on offer with a lifetime license.

In short, the plugin enables you to easily embed social content onto your site and manage it. For instance, you can bring in your whole Youtube channel or other social channels right into your site so people can see them there rather than have to leave your site.

Not only that, WP Social Ninja embeds things like Google Reviews. If you run a local business that gets reviews on third-party sites, this plugin would b e super handy in bringing those things right into your site.

I’ll be doing a review on this plugin shortly, but their launch window on the lifetime is limited so thought I’d give you a heads up. 🙂

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