We’re dawning upon an era of confessions. It’s no surprise millennials have developed a different style of expressing themselves than their baby boomer parents. While baby boomers may opt to tune into traditional news sources such as CNN or USA Today to grasp the latest happenings in the world, their millennial children are likely viewing Facebook and Twitter feeds to gather news a bit closer to home. As social media platforms continue to take a dominant role in millennial news consumption and peer-to-peer interaction, marketers and advertisers alike have noticed another emerging communication subset: confessional media.

While its physical and virtual portrayals continue to evolve, confessional media are not exactly novice phenomena. In fact, they have been sweeping the nation over the latter part of the decade in the rise of a frenzied, media-consuming millennial generation. One such example of the sensational medium, Thought Catalog, has been capturing the hearts and minds of America’s 20-somethings at an astounding rate—drawing more than 2.5 million unique visitors each month.

What began as a small-scale experimental media project in February 2010, Thought Catalog—commonly referred to as “TC”—has grown a cult-like following of devoted readers that scan the site as regularly as they might check their phones or email. Dubbed by Forbes Magazine as a leading force in the new age of confessional media, TC is comprised of real-life, bare-all stories and scenarios with personal—sometimes controversial—confessions and anecdotes.

Written in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek dialogue that often pushes the envelope, stories like “20-Somethings Guide to Living Passively in a Passive System” and “11 Simple Things Everyone Needs to Be Happy,” to the more eclectic “The 6 Creepiest, Shit-Your-Pants Unsolved Cases,” have gained popularity amongst Generation Y.

What can marketers learn from TC and confessional media?

  1. TC understands its key audience and demographic. Drawing wide-eyed millennials like a moth to a flame with intriguing stories of love, post-college life and popular culture, TC’s content is produced mainly by Gen Y freelancers and a handful of full-time staff who readers can relate to. Even TC’s founder and publisher Chris Lavergne dons a boyish charm and a resilient, forward-thinking attitude characteristic of TC’s readership.
  2. Creating an emotional connection. Featuring articles that pull at the heartstrings one moment, then encourage bust-at-the-seams laughter the next, TC is composed of articles that read like personal essays stripped directly from the pages of the writers’ diaries. Each post also represents a unique voice and perspective that makes readers feel connected not only to the topic, but to the writer him or herself. Going through a recent breakup? There’s a TC article for that. Concerned about your future? Someone on TC has already written about it.
  3. Utilizing social media—the right way. With nearly 200,000 fans on its Facebook page alone, TC’s simplistic page design and strategic content sharing of timely and “from the archive” articles with clean, intriguing headlines attract readers like a magnet. If you’re a fan of the page, it’s nearly impossible to scan your news feed without stumbling upon a TC article of interest (lacking the feeling that your feed has been littered with obtrusive sponsored posts).
  4. TC understands its brand—but is willing to evolve. Founder Chris Lavergne recognizes that the TC he helped create three years ago is different from today’s representation. He allows readers to ultimately interpret and submit the types of content they’d like to read on the site. True to his Gen Y mindset, Lavergne is willing to see TC through its progressions, noting that change is “both conscious and natural. Change will always be a constant at Thought Catalog.”

Has your brand leveraged confessional media? What do you think?