For me, the Holiday Season is all about spending time with family and close friends, and this is exactly what I did. I love the fact that I can reconnect on a deeper level with the younger adults in my life and because of my social media connection, the bond has grown stronger over the years. Why have I decided to share this with you?
Well, recently Justin Bieber’s name has come up a number of times
when discussing social media. For some reason, it is usually raised with distain and disbelief of any real drive or engagement he has in social media. I listen somewhat perplexed at the attitude. Why? From my perspective, he is one of the first and most successful social media case study. Hands down. When traditional avenues were not open to them, he and his mother used the one’s that were familiar and readily available. He started on YouTube, built his fanbase of loyal subscribers with record numbers (currently at 2+ Billion views), created mass engagement using Twitter (currently at 14Million followers) and Facebook (currently at 37 Million likes)…. and continues to use these tools seamlessly, as if he was born with them. Hold on a minute, he was! Justin Bieber was born in 1994, a member of Generation Y/ Z similar to the young adults in my circle. His mother, Pattie Bieber, was born in 1976- late Generation X, early Generation Y member. They look at this media totally different to those of earlier generations. This is why I decided to write about this topic. In order to stay in the “game” for the long haul, I believe it is important to understand the attitudes of the different generations. As a result, I conducted a little research to better understand these different attitudes. So I am going to get a little academic in some places to make the point. Here goes!
Western characteristics that define the following generations are:
The Silent Generation/ Traditionalists, ST (1925-1945) : Age ~ 65+ yrs
- Children of the Great Depression and World War II.
- Raised in a paternalistic environment and hard times.
- High respect for authority.
- A tendency not to question or ruffle feathers.
- Labor intensive hardworking generation with strong work ethic that worked in factories of a industrialized society.
- Willing to put in long, grueling hours to get ahead.
- High loyalty.
- Era of mechanical automation and the radio.
- Primary form of communication: printed paper and radio.
Baby Boomers, BB (1946-1964): Age ~ 45-65yrs
- Children of World War II parents; a sense of changing the world however have a challenge managing change themselves.
- A disregard for authority and rejection of tradition.
- Hardworking workaholics very focused on their careers; live to work.
- They hold positions of power and authority- make up a large majority of today’s leaders, corporate executives and management.
- Very competitive; believe in hierarchical structure and rank. Power and control are valued.
- Define themselves by their professional accomplishments. Self absorbed.
- This generation will be retiring very soon at a rate of 8000 per day (in North America).
- Confident and independent: Comfortable challenging authority.
- Relatively loyal.
- Era of tape recordings, telephone and television.
- Primary form of communication: letters, newspapers, radio, face-to-face, telephone and television.
Generation J (1954-1965): Age ~ 45-55 yrs
- This generation represents the younger baby boomer years.
- Sharing traits of both the baby boomers and Generation X.
- Materialistic – keeping up with the Jones (J).
- Remembers life before the introduction of mass technology.
Generation X (1965-1980s): Age ~ 30-45yrs
- The family circle is redefined in this generation. More tolerant of alternative lifestyles.
- High divorce rates; more women in the workforce.
- A casual disdain for authority and structured work hours. Values flexibility.
- Dislike being micro-managed.
- First generation to grow up with computers.
- Sees changes from manufacturing from the mechanical era to service era.
- Less committed to their employers. Less loyalty
- Change in work ethics: Work to live rather than live to work
- Adapt well to change; ambitious and eager to learn new skills
- Want to accomplish things on their own terms.
- Integrates humor and social into the workplace.
- Remembers life before the introduction of mass technology. Capable of blending the old with the new approach to technology.
- Era of computers, cell phone, email, PDA and laptops.
- Primary form of communication: email replaces letters, newspapers, radio, television, videos and desktop computing. Prefers reading hardcopy print, face-to-face and telephone.
Generation Y (1980s-2000): Age ~ under 30yrs
- This generation grew up with technology and cannot remember a time without it.
- Relies on technology as part of their daily life to communicate with their friends and to perform their jobs.
- This generation is plugged-in 24/7; they require high engagement/feedback.
- Highly educated.
- Totally different work ethic to earlier generations; they are willing to trade high paying jobs for flexible schedules and a better work/life balance; want meaningful work.
- Confident, ambitious and achievement-oriented. They have high expectations of their employers and not scared to ask for what they want.
- Not afraid to question authority. In fact there is a lack of trust in authority.
- They are entrepreneurial.
- They have a need for fun, flexibility and appreciation at work (engagement and feedback is valued).
- They prioritize family and social circle over work.
- They readily assimilate technology into what they do.
- Era of Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.
- Primary form of communication: Prefers to e-mail, text messaging and social networks rather than face-to-face; Prefers webinars and online technology to traditional lecture-based presentations.
Generation Z (1990+): Age ~ under 20yrs
Technology Naturally Mastered
- The internet and mobile generation. Also known as the IGeneration.
- This generation grew up with technology and cannot remember a time without it.
- Highly connected and highly engaged.
- Lifelong use of communication technologies i.e. text messaging, MP3 players, iTunes and instant messaging.
- They carry a mobile phone so that they can text and access the internet at any given time. They always have their phone for this reason.
- They are growing up with an expectation that connectivity is not limited by a desktop computer.
- Completely born in the era of globalization; a business and social world without borders.
- Curate information online at a phenomenal rate; a natural activity.
- Technology is so integrated into their lives, they have mastered it in a way that they do not think about it. Technology is as natural as breathing; they do not categorize it, like earlier generations.
- Preferred communication: Short texting , pictures and videos.
Once you understand these general characteristics, it is easy to understand the different attitudes to social media by the different generations. Generation Y and Z values, entrepreneurial spirit and use of social media are far more advanced and seamless compared to earlier generations.
Generation Y and Z “live” social media, whereas the older generations tend to be more analytical and talk about social media. Today many of the corporate leaders are from the baby boomers generation and are about to retire at an unprecedented rate. In a few years, those leaders will be replaced by a more mobile X or Y generation and their work ethics are markedly different to the early hierarchical, stationary corporate-focused generations. So, be ready to be mobile, to embrace “texting” and removing the borders of your thinking. Without a doubt, your mid-long term social media plans needs to incorporate/address these attitudes… starting with your 2012 plan. The egos of the older generations should be set aside and they must consider a more collaborative approach to work across the generations to truly maximize the potential of social media going forward. As a Generation J myself, I certainly do embrace it! But then I am a Gen Y/Z wannabe!
Your turn! What do you think? Go ahead and share with your network to continue the conversation.
As always, thank you for visiting. 2012 is going to be our year!
Hippy photo from kevin dooley
- Move over Millennials, the iGeneration is more intriguing. (themrsite.com)
- Social Media – Age IS relevant – Sorry! [Tim O’Donnell] (ecademy.com)
- @Boomer Authority: A New Twitter-based Question and Answer Resource Helps Baby Boomers Obtain Timely Advice When They Need it Most (prweb.com)
- Baby-Boomers are the most selfish generation in history | Mail Online (tribuneofthepeople.wordpress.com)
- Justin Bieber: The Ultimatye Story of Social Media (Mashable)
- Millennial Branding Gen Y & Facebook Study (Personal branding)
- GenerationY. Mu generation of social media (Sparkboutik)
- Justin Bieber- A social media case study (dumblittlebogger)
- Generation Jones (generationjones.com)