Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oh, and You Can Stop Calling Everything "Viral" - That's Lame

Think you've got a handle of what's happening with Gen Y's? Not so fast--unless you happen to be a GenY'er. A thought provoking article in Read Write Web rightfully claims Gen Y is taking over.

Their attitudes about everything from social issues to work, to even the web is different than previous generations. I don't think it's a rebellious movement like has been seen in the past--just different. In fact, it seems that Gen Y's tend to have closer relationships with their parents and seem to be quite comfortable with that arrangement.

I have written many times over the past few months how critical it is that we educate ourselves on the significant differences between Gen Y's and all other generations. The writer of the article concludes the same thing:
Ignoring the voices of Gen Y is something you should do at your own peril, especially if you're a business looking to hire, a company selling a product, or an advertising firm trying to reach them.
Please read that sentence at least 3 times. It's that important.

In the radio business, we have two subsets of Gen Y's we have to be concerned about...employees and listeners. Expectations, aspirations, and goals have changed.

How we develop our on-air product, create our websites and how we help our clients reach consumers will be changing:

Marketing Has To Change: Because Gen Y is media savvy and conscious of being marketed to, brands that succeed in the future will be those that open a dialog with their customers, admit their mistakes, and essentially become more transparent (save one notable exception, apparently). Companies' web sites that want to attract GenY'ers will become more like today's Web 2.0 sites. Social networking will be just a feature. Blogs will be standard ways for companies to reach their customers. Customer service won't just be a phone call away, it will be available via non-traditional means, too. Today, savvy companies might be using Twitter, but that could change at any time if Gen Y moves on. Companies will have to keep up with Gen Y and not get too comfortable using any one format. (Oh, and you can stop calling everything "viral" - that's lame.)

Thinking of hiring a new employee? That too requires a new understanding.
Work Tools Need to Mirror Web Tools: Gen Y will drive adoption of "Enterprise 2.0" products and services. Gen Y in the workplace will not just want, but expect their company to provide them with tools that mirror those they use in their personal lives. If socializing on Facebook helps them get a sale, then they're not going to understand why they can't use it at work. For more buckled down companies, if workers aren't provided with the tools they want, they're going to be savvy enough to go around I.T.'s back and get their own.

Work Isn't Their Whole World: Sure, they're going to go to work, but it had better be fun. For Gen Y, work isn't their identity. It's just a place. Gen Y sees no reason why a company can't be more accommodating, offering benefits like the ability to work from anywhere, flex-time, a culture that supports team communication, and a "fun" work environment. They're also not going to blindly follow orders just because you're the boss. Sometimes dubbed "Generation Why?" they need to "buy in" as to why something is being done. Old school bosses may find their questioning insubordinate behavior, but they would be best to just change their management techniques and adapt. Gen Y hasn't known much unemployment and they're not going to put up with being treated poorly just for sake of a paycheck. (Bosses, your survival guide is here).
The future of radio hinges on Gen Y's discovering something connected to radio they can be passionate about. Passionate is a very strong word and might be unattainable. Let's try this: The future of radio hinges on Gen Y's discovering something connected to radio they can be interested in.

It won't be easy.

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