Monthly Archives: October 2010

Millennials Won’t Be Checking-In With Foursquare Any Time Soon

In a post-Facebook world, just about anything is capable of happening. The unprecedented growth of various social media’s has yielded a great amount of interesting ideas. But more importantly, many of these are being favourably approached by users. And with usage constantly growing, representing hundreds of millions of individuals, it almost seems like a sure bet. The current level of opportunity could quite well make anything possible.

It’s this same notion of opportunity that got me thinking during Evan Cohen’s presentation last week at the Pivot Conference. For those of you who don’t Evan is, he’s the general manager of foursquare. And for those of you who don’t know what foursquare is, in a nutshell, it’s a mobile based application platform that it is integrated with a sense of social media allowing it’s users to “check-in” at different locations, explore cities, stay up-to-date with where there friends are, special offers and much more that can be found here.

foursquare is undeniably an interesting idea. As their about page states, as of August 2010 they have close to 3 million users worldwide. That’s no small feat in itself. The opportunities that potentially exist here are countless and extraordinary. However, at the same time when it seems like an opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked, we shouldn’t be blinded by it either.

There’s no doubt “place media” has some positive and lucrative potential. And as Evan pointed out during his presentation, foursquare is leading the place media charge. Not only can place media such as foursquare increase business through valuable foot-traffic, amongst other avenues, it allows businesses to leverage consumership to a great extent.

To paraphrase Evan here, foursquare is a great opportunity for companies, brands, products and business alike. I really have no problem with that whatsoever. What I did find highly fascinating though was there was hardly any mention of the end-user. Like I said, I’m in favour of opportunity for business. But what about opportunity for the user?

Yes, the user gets special offers for their participation. And the fortunate few that can become “mayors” of various locations, do incur some special treatment. Though, I don’t think the same opportunity exists for the user as it does for business. In fact, I don’t think the majority of Millennials, myself included, resonate with this and with anything foursquare offers.

There’s a few realities to why this is. Most immediately, our understanding of what foursquare is and what it offers. With mobile phone penetration at the tipping point, chances are we already know where all our friends are, as we text and BBM on an incredible basis. Once you combine that with Facebook and even Twitter, simply on this basis, many Millennials have no need for it. The common sentiment is no one really cares about where you go. Nor do we care to tell everyone where we go. Well, sometimes for bragging purposes. But even then we don’t really care.

The other component foursquare is notably known for is the special offers you receive for checking-in to a location. Whether that be some sort of immediate savings or eventual offering after a series of check-ins at a particular location, amongst the speciality treatment mayors receive, none of this can be translated into something enticing enough for Millennials. Especially, since only as a user would you even know about the offers that exist. While at the same moment everyone is being bombarded by the ever mushrooming variants of loyalty and discounting programs.

At a time when social media has become a facet of everyday life and smart phone growth is ballooning, Millennials have yet to find any need or reason for really wanting to join foursquare. I’m as savvy as they come and I’ve hardly considered it. Even as a niche idea, you can hardly expect your niche users to always and continually support your business. Yes, for business, the opportunity is there. But until that opportunity reflects the customer, until that opportunity represents an user-centric approach, don’t expect the Millennials to be checking-in any time soon.

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Humanize Your Brand

It’s an interesting statement. How could anyone possibly humanize their brand? After all, brands are labels. And those labels represent a type of product. And that product represents a specific function or use. They’re simply materialistic possessions. Nothing more than that, right?

Well, don’t tell that to us. For the Millennials, brand-culture is taking on a significant paradigm shift. For some time now, brands have slowly begun to move away from a product based culture. And for anyone that has been paying attention, you would have noticed that the Millennials have become the catalysts of this progression into a lifestyle brand culture. There is not denying that Millennials love their brands. And it’s something that goes beyond the brand itself.

We want to talk about you. We want to share about you. We want to get to know you. We want to have real relationships with you. The essence of the brand has moved beyond our notions of use, functionality and materialistic being. Though use, functionality and materialistic quality still remain imperative and should in no way be taken to a lesser extent, for us, brands have begun to encompass who we are. And we have become very willing to tell everyone about how awesome “my” brand is and how great “our” relationship is.

I remember a time not too long ago when brands were seen as fashion faux pas’. There was a strong anti-brand sentiment in a sense. Maybe it could be that the consumerism of the 90s was based on cool. Nike was cool. But now it’s about comfort. Our brand values have changed considerably. In a world where everything is seemingly cool, we’ve gone above and beyond to distinguish ourselves in any way possible.

And this shift has only been fuelled by social media and other online innovations. Simple instances of searching and sharing have become more alive and real. Aside from the algorithms of these online processes that are in fact trying to become more human, googling, youtubing, facebooking and tweeting are not only changing language and speech, rather they’re beginning to represent fundamental actions in our everyday life.

Once you move beyond the online based power brands of Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, you begin to notice that we are googling, youtubing, facebooking and tweeting to engage our brands just as we would engage colleagues, friends and real individuals. The essence of brands themselves has come to represent these same feelings of engagement. We are engaging you as if you were colleagues, friends and real individuals.

For Millennials, brand engagement itself represents something completely different than it did for any other generation. This is about trust, loyalty and influence. There is no denying the greatest influencers to Millennials are Millennials themselves. Equally, you better mean every word you say. What you say must be as great as you promised it to be. You have to represent who you are. And if you can establish that trust, we will be loyal customers and brand-activists. But, and this is a big but, you have to provide us with loyalty in return. A relationship does not simply involve us. It involves you and me.

Brand humanization is more evident than we currently understand. It’s not just a smart phone. It’s a BlackBerry or iPhone. It’s not just a coffee. It’s a latte from Starbucks. It’s not just about liking your Facebook page. I want to hear from you Coca-Cola. You have over 15 million likes and you’ve only posted 7 things on your wall since October 13. Your fans are talking and they want to hear from you! Why else would would anyone really want to say anything unless to evoke a response? I’m still amazed that only the lovable Old Spice Guy figured out his friends wanted to hear from him. And he did what any good friend would, he got back to you.

It’s quite clear that with technological and online advancements, our understanding of brands has forever changed. It can also be understood that brands are becoming more human and in fact, they must become more human simply because the virtues of social media dictate that. And we want these relationships. Is it a little unrealistic to suggest brands have to act like this? Maybe. But if you want the attention of the Millennials, if you want us to respond, you might have to come to us on our level. It’s not simply about you the brand. It’s about being real. It’s about our relationship.

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Are You Ready for the Millennials and the Social Workplace?

Yesterday morning, I had the absolute pleasure and delight of being a panelist for IBM’s Smarter Leaders vPanel. The topic at hand and discussion to follow was based around the idea of whether we are all ready for the impact that the social web and social technologies will have in the workplace.

Aptly titled “[Are You] Ready for the Social Workplace?”, the panel was consistent of 3 brilliant individuals and myself, the “rock-star” Millennial. And since I was given that characterization, I guess I’ll take it! Here are the panelists:

  • Jennifer Okimoto – (moderator of panel) Associate Partner, IBM Strategy & Transformation at IBM Global Business Services, Organization & People
  • Dr. Jennifer Deal – Senior Research Scientist at Center for Creative Leadership
  • Sameer Patel – Partner at the Sovos Group, Enterprise 2.0, Organizational Leadership & Collaboration Strategist
  • Josip Petrusa – Me, just being myself as a Gen-Y and Millennial Blogger here on my blog.

Looking at the social workplace takes on a different tone when you begin to involve the Millennials and how social computing has not only changed the workplace but how there has been a drastic transformation occurring as a result of it. It’s not a matter of whether companies can adjust and innovate effectively to such deep changes in the nature of work. Rather, it’s truly and simply a matter of when and how these companies will change.

There has been a few competing ideologies here. The first suggests that Millennials in fact will regress into the typical and traditional worker. The worker and employees we’ve always known. The second suggests, and the one I most certainly resonate with, is that Millennials will have a significant influence to the workplace. And for better or worse, we will undoubtedly change the dynamics of everything work related, in one degree or another.

Hyperconnectivity and disruptive innovation will be the catalysts that alter our viewpoints of collaborative natures and employee relationships in the workplace. Equally, many elements of the personal and professional divide are being forever redefined and blurred. Much of which can be attributed to what encompasses the very essence of the Millennials.

Organizational cultures are being challenged. Collaborative structures are growing. And social networking tools are increasingly becoming strong elements of the every day workplace.

As tribal and group thinkers, Millennials will create a level of unprecedented efficiency. We really do want to work. We also really want to do a great job. And in the midst of economic crisis, our mindset has forever only cemented this mindset even further into what only represents our young careers.

Over the next 5 years, the Millennials will represent a significant portion of the work force. And over that time, we’ll have to adjust, readjust and innovate the operation of every structure, as the Millennial mentality will constantly question it. We have to embrace and channel their abilities in order to achieve mutually beneficial results.

The workforce itself won’t simply represent a large mass of Millennials keen on social networking all the time. Rather each Millennial and each aspect of the social web will rise to a particular situation and dictate it within a certain manner. As we can hardly use every element of the social web at once, simply because it’s not practical, and as all Millennials will not represent the same strenghts, the growth of mass collaboration, crowdsourcing and collective intelligence will dictate results and reward individuals accordingly.

However, before much of this can even begin to take place, necessary recourse is absolutely imperative into understanding who the Millennials are. Rather than focus on over-emphasized negatives, current corporate cultures can not simply impose on a down ward scale. Yes, we Millennials believe in having fulfilling relationships with those older than us. And yes, we will have conversations with you and share our thoughts whether you agree with it or not. This will continue to take place whether it’s right or wrong, and regardless of if you like it or if you don’t.

Not only will mentoring be an essential aspect to creating a positive environment, reserve-mentoring will be arguably the most crucial aspect of all. Millennials have exemplified that relationships are important to their very nature. This can be seen across the social world. Building powerful relationships amongst the ranks can have definitive benefits. Something that can only be accomplished if serious notions of reserve-mentoring are put into adoption and use.

Getting ready for a social workforce will take finesse, patience and embracing this new and changing world. The Millennials are undeniably living in one of the most disruptively innovative times ever experienced by our current societal structures. As Millennials continually embrace and grow with these disruptions, they will ultimately innovate as they go along. You may not be ready for the social workplace but it appears that the Millennials might already be.

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For Millennials, Online Friends Are Real Friends

It’s been exactly a week since I’ve written my last post and I apologize for that. Though you shouldn’t assume by any means that I was slacking off. In fact, I was more than busy.

Earlier in the week, I attended the Pivot Conference in New York City. And for those of you that don’t know what Pivot is I’ll explain. Pulled straight from their about page, Pivot is “the marketing conference for brand marketers that seeks to understand the style, attitudes, technologies, and preferences of the 18-34 year-old consumer.” So how could I not be there. Not only to hear what they had to say about Gen-Y and Millennials but also to represent Gen-Y and Millennials. Further, I was on a virtual panel for IBM earlier this morning representing Millennials. Stay tuned for that article tomorrow.

Not only was it a pleasure to meet many great colleagues for the first time in-person, it was an idea filled and thought provoking experience. And anyone following my #pivotcon tweets would’ve realized this. So without further adieu, today’s blog post, inspired by those many great online colleagues I met.

From the early days of social media, well the early days of Facebook, many of our so-called “friends” equated to people we’ve always known. In fact, the very purpose of Facebook itself was created as a means to literally keep up with friends. And one-by-one, we all started requesting virtual friendship with our friends.

Then, something truly significant started to take place. Facebook friends weren’t simply reserved for friends anymore. Old acquaintances, classmates and co-workers entered the mix. And once those resources became exhausted, the slightest of relationships and introductions warranted virtual friendship. From individuals you commonly see but have never met, to people you’ve met on vacation and anyone you bumped into at a bar. A simple hello was enough to justify Facebook friendship.

Once you add the dynamics of Twitter, everything seems to be even stranger. And how could it not be strange, with complete strangers following complete strangers. Doing the same in person would make you a creeper, stalker and psycho. Even enough to get the police and authorities involved. Our evaluation of real life relationships would definitely question our online ones.

And they have been questioned. There has been considerable criticism on this topic. How can anyone possibly keep up with thousands of new and emerging online relationships? And why would you bother if you can hardly say you’ve met any of them. Simply, many of our friends, followers and connections are just egotistical aspects of the numbers game.

The more the merrier. Right?

The real friends vs. online friends argument is one based on value, legitimacy and our traditional understandings of friendship. And depending on what side of the fence you are on, this is all either non-sense or the beginning of a brave new-world.

The emerging reality is this difference, this distinction between “real” and “online” doesn’t matter anymore. At the very least, it’s mattering less and less. Something that is very prevalent amongst Millennials.

For Millennials, online friends have become real friends. As the online world blurs into and becomes the real world, friends of various natures are becoming, well, friends. As our world broadens, as our communications continually advances we begin to truly enter a world where friends and friendships are not simply defined by someone we’ve met in person. Rather, meeting in-person, though something that is still truly valuable, becomes a method of communication as opposed to a defining characteristic.

I can already hear the naysayers, traditional believers and those fearful of our new and emerging world disagreeing frantically. There are more than a few negative impacts that come with extensive communications growth. But it shouldn’t be misunderstood that these negatives don’t already exist within the  everyday world. And just as we learned to avoid and watch-out for certain signs of dangerous situations in the real world, we will equally learn to live online in the same manner. It won’t simply turn into a fearful world of predators and prey.

Unfortunately, there will be some circumstances that will be glorified to show how evil the online world is but this false perception should in no way dissuade or discourage individuals from creating very meaningful relationships online. Relationships that are genuine, great, caring and real. Though it would be a pleasure to meet everyone in-person, online communication is the most defining substitute ever created to cultivate real relationships anywhere in the world.

Social media has unknowingly established and created more than a few negatives and positives. And by no means should we all be scared to travel down this road in an orderly fashion. I have many relationships with individuals that I’ve known for years that are absolutely amazing. I also have many relationships that were created online that are equally as amazing.

As you read this I have 350 Facebook friends, 1327 Twitter followers, 576 LinkedIn connections and 106 Facebook Fan Page likes. Many of which I’ve met. Many of which I haven’t met. Though I’ll admit I haven’t sustained extensive relationships equally with everyone, the growing number of those I’m continually engaging with online are just as incredible as many people I’ve known in real life.

When I went to New York City for the Pivot Conference, I went not ever having met anyone in-person. Once there, we all met as if we were friends for sometime. It’s because we have been friends for sometime, only separated by the physical distance between us. Friendship is not defined by real or online conceptualization. Friendship is defined by the very essence as our abilities as human beings to interact with each other whether that be a lifelong relationship or someone you’ve come to know on Twitter.

Life online is still very much an infant idea. And many individuals incorporate traditional barriers within the online world. The fact remains that many of us, especially Millennials, are beginning to have more and more friendships created online. For us, the online world is part of our real world. For us, our online friends are real friends.

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Gen-Y Moms Are Digital Moms

I always and still wonder how digital we will be once we become parents. As parents, our lives will undoubtedly change as we alter and shift our priorities. But what does this mean for our digital nature? After all, Generation Y is a generation that has grown up and continues to grow digitally inclined. Will we carry on and evolve in our digital nature, creating families immersed in the digital world? Or will our smart phone and social media ways regress to be figments of our young adulthood?

Still in mainstream infancy, the social and mobile worlds have yet to be fully realized. With quick swings occurring and segment maturation being an unrecognizable reality at this moment, predicting what can happen next year, in 3 years, 5 years and in 10 is, frankly, impossible.

There has already been some debate over this last summer regarding the social media sharing characteristic of Gen-Y. But even then, I don’t see a future of sharing but rather one of growing connectivity. Trust me, there’s a significant difference between sharing and connecting.

Equally, I’ve brought up the idea that Gen-Y will unknowingly introduce to the world a series of Truman Show-esque children. Complete childhood’s will be recorded online for the world to see. And with friends, family and our long lost colleagues on Facebook, I’ve begun to see a strong influx of young mothers absolutely sharing everything about their young children. Whether this is positive, negative or meaningless remains to be seen. But it’s happening in a large series of circumstances where young Gen-Y mothers have had children. At least, in my experience of course.

All that being said, it’s common knowledge to know that mothers are affluent members of blog communities. Both as bloggers and readers. Commonly and most notably known as mommy bloggers. However, what is new and truly interesting is the findings behind how youth Gen-Y moms are communicating.

In pure Gen-Y fashion, these young mothers lead the way in phone, text and Facebook as methods of communicating with immediate family members. As a recent article via eMarketer reports, Gen-Y does them 21%, 14% and 10% of the time respectively. Further, their amount of in-person conversation with immediate family shows significant disparity from mothers older than them. In-person immediate family communication accounts for less than half of all Gen-Y mother communication at 48% in comparison to Gen-X at 58% and Baby Boomers at 62%.

So what does all this mean? Well, obviously, if the means are there we will use them, especially if they can instantaneously satisfy the situation at hand. Secondly, I can’t see dominating lifestyle factors, such as social media and mobile phones, which have been integrated into Gen-Y life, simply dissipating in a cold turkey like manner. And lastly, although there are clear privacy issues involved with the social and mobile worlds, we still trust these mediums enough to continually incorporate them into our lives.

I also understand that these characteristics aren’t necessarily exclusive to Gen-Y. Non Gen-Y mothers do the same things. I won’t deny that. The point here is not to indicate the similarities but rather, to show the notion that picking up a digital lifestyle is vastly different from growing up digital. And growing a digital family structure. And digitally grown parents parenting their digital children. We can hardly understand both the positive and negative implications here. Though, what is for certain here is Gen-Y moms are digital moms. Were we all really expecting everything to stay the same?

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The State of Millennial Smart Phone and Apps Culture

The mobile explosion of recent years has been nothing short of extraordinary. Aside from the juggernaut of social media and networking, the mobile world has become an imperative and defining element to the reality of the Millennials. It’s how we maintain our relationships. It’s how we connect. It’s how we get our information. It’s how we pretty much do everything.

Smart Phoned Millennials

For Millennials, cell phones themselves have had an interesting trending shift. Once seen as objects for emergency use were then transformed to become one of recreational behaviour. Now, that recreational behaviour has made cell phones an object of necessity and an object prevalent to everyday Millennial life.

A recent report completed by Forrester has found that 88% of those aged 18-30 own a cell phone. Further, 23% of those aged 18-30 own a smart phone. The fascinating aspect here is not the fact that there is an overlap, which can be attributed to a variety of different reasons. Rather, it’s the fact that Millennials lead the mobile adoption curves across all demographics. They have also begun to use a new mobile mediums before the previous ones has even passed complete saturation.

Smart phones are not simply the future, they are now. They’re not simply for the privileged, they are for everyone. In general, as Nielsen predicts, smart phones will overtake cell phones by the end of 2011. Something of which has already had double digit growth over the last 2 years, and something that is expected to surge with the general population as a whole.

Even all that said, Millennials are already leading the smart phone wave and expect their smart phone numbers to grow exponentially in the coming years. With roughly 1 in 4 owning a smart phone, the question for many Millennials it’s not a matter of IF you’re going to buy a smart phone next but WHEN you’re going to buy that smart phone.

Millennials and mobile phones have always gone hand-in-hand. And smart phones have only amplified that relationship to great extents. They have become personal representations of who we are. They are the most personal extension of the Millennial self. They are and will continue to become the most used objects of our lives.

And how could they not have such a significant effect? The impressive capabilities smart phone represent absolutely cater to the lives of the Millennials. This is something that can most evidently be understood through the vastly growing apps culture. And one that can’t deny the value and significance apps bring to everyday life.

App Happy

Apps are allowing us to pretty much do anything. You can quite literally have access to and do everything you find necessary without more than a few movements of your thumbs and fingers. You want your news? Check. You want your shopping deals? Check. You want the weather, sports scores, games and local restaurants? Check. And how could I forget our beloved Facebook and Twitter. Check and check.

The reality of the situation, according to Pew Research, 79% of 18-29 years-olds use the apps they have on their phones, with the average Millennial having 22 apps. Further, app-usage skews towards men, representing 57%, and Millennials, disproportionately represent 44% of all app-usage.

Once we take a deeper look into these dynamics, we find that that those 29% aged 18-24 use apps multiple times a day compared to 44% of those aged 25-34. Equally, of those who downloaded Twitter and Facebook apps, 18-24 years-old use each 75% and 57% respectively each day. While 25-34 year-olds use the same social media apps 52% and 69% respectively. To dispel any confusion here, the reason why I mention these older demographics is due to the fact that Millennials arguably represent those currently as old as 29-31 years old, all depending on who you speak with.

Millennial Culture is a Smart Phone and Apps Culture

A world of smart phones and apps is quite apparent when you brake it down by strict research numbers. But it’s also more apparent that Millennials absolutely love their smart and apps as they lead a clear majority of many of the numbers represented. And this really shouldn’t be seen or interpreted as the new “it” thing.

Not only are they cool, they are functional and efficient. They are both time savers and time wasters. They not only represent who we are, they allow us to be who we are. I can hardly think of a moment when my BlackBerry isn’t in arms reach. And I’d highly doubt that this same closeness couldn’t be applied to all Millennials.

Even as smart phones and apps are still part of a very early and infant state, we are absolutely captivated by them. From our first glimpses in our waking minutes, through our daily activities and the final moments before we go to bed, smart phones and apps have become to exemplify, personify and present everything that is Millennial. Equally, Millennials in turn have humanized them. This is the state of smart phone and apps culture. This is the state of the Millennials.

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Embrace the Gen-Y Stereotypes

We’ve all heard the Gen-Y stereotypes. The typical argument suggests that many of these characteristics are negatively impacting these young individuals. And everywhere you turn, everyone seems to be yelling from the roof-tops that we’re too connected, too privileged, too entitled, we share too much, we’re too technologically savvy, we’re too young for anything.

Youthfulness often does imply ambition, optimism and a know-it-all attitude. However, with Gen-Y, like everything else, we’ve taken it to another level. As a result, we’re too impatient, we do too much multi-tasking, we’re too youthful and we’re told we’ll fail with these mindsets. And this sentiment is becoming widely common amongst the media and even professionals.

What I find truly fascinating here is that we are roaring-forward regardless of the situations we face. I think it’s safe to say most of us were promised the world as we were growing up. And even in these troublesome times we’re still looking to fulfill those promises. But then the arguments of being naivety come into play. The popular agenda seems to be a put-down agenda.

But I can’t help but wonder the absolutely positive and powerful elements these stereotypes carry with them. It’s not often that stereotypes actually have a significant plus-side to them. Rather than shy-away from these supposed weaknesses, embrace Gen-Y for who they are. Embrace the stereotypes for the strengths and opportunities they present.

So with out further hesitation, here are the characteristics you should be embracing.

Connecting: The emergence of social media, social networking and the advances in mobile technologies has made the world a seemingly smaller place. Not only have these elements become common place to Gen-Y, they’re imperative to our daily routine.

There has never been a time in history where this much individual-to-individual communication has taken place. That means if you’re not talking to us, we most likely won’t know you’re there. That also means we are very focused on our conversations. We get answers and responses quickly. We influence and are influenced faster than ever. 15% of 12-17 year olds and 18% of 18-24 year olds send over 6000 text messages a month. So are you a part of that relationship? Are you in their conversation?

Sharing: For anyone that has been truly paying attention to the sharing habits of Gen-Y you would have realized by now that it’s about being “status update worthy.” And as I so eloquently put it as when I introduced the idea, we, Gen-Y, are looking for something to share.

From those who barely use anything to share a thought, a moment and an experience to those who are as savvy as they come, the fact of the matter is we are sharing. I have a great friend who refuses to be part of the social media world but yet, even without him being part of Facebook, he is still inherently effected by all those around him who use Facebook. No matter which way you approach it, we all share. And we all share more than compared to pre-social media and pre-mobile times. The question is what are you giving us to share? Will we say it’s good or it’s bad?

Multi-tasking: Chances are members of Gen-Y are doing more at once than is truly conceivable by everyone else. And this has resulted in notions of being elusive, over-ambitious, and even the famed notion of entitlement. The reality is, we do many things at the same time and we do them well. The problem is everyone else believes in doing one thing at a time.

We simply don’t shop, work or walk. We compare, confirm, analyse, search, research, connect, share, respond, text, tweet, Facebook update, examine the mobile website, get answers from everywhere possible for the best situation possible. And it’s not a matter of having to, it’s simply because we just want to.

With that all being said, I can already picture the arguments of over-zealousness coming. Just face the facts. If it was up to me, I would have 3 computer screens in front of me instead of doing everything the hard way on a single laptop. I’ve never headed into a purchasing decision without knowing everything else first. If I don’t know, I’m, texting, BBMing and looking at everything I can find on the web. And when I walk, I don’t bump into things. But I do glance at a my BlackBerry and send off of messages if I can.

There is so much unused power in truly understanding who Gen-Y really are. No, we won’t become robotic drones. And our souls aren’t controlled by Facebook. Are their implications to these actions? Of course there are. Though, when aren’t there implications to a particular action. The power, effectiveness and significance of connecting, sharing and multi-tasking can’t be denied. It’s almost as if we all put Gen-Y down because we can’t embrace their great qualities and abilities in being, well, great. Imagine the productivity, free-marketing and advertising, heightened abilities and everything else they provide simply by being themselves. There is no room for negativity here. Embrace the stereotypes. Embrace Gen-Y.

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Are You Looking for Gen-Y? Or Are You Waiting to Be Found?

It’s becoming more obvious and apparent that traditional marketing and advertising efforts are not yielding the same traditional results. And this is something I’m been preaching for a while. We, Gen-Y, are different. It’s just that plain and simple. No matter which angle you approach it at, or what perspective you choose to believe, you would be a fool not too know that this generation is different.

For some reason, there is much dissent and debate to how strong these differences really are. And if anything at all, is Gen-Y that much different from everyone else. Truly, you would have to be blind not to understand the hurdles Gen-Y has created, both actively and passively.

The reality of the situation is that in a whole new world old tricks don’t necessarily always apply. With many aspects of the internet such as social media and video streaming, to the rapid emergence of the mobile sector and even the changing state of television, simply keeping on the same marketing and advertising path will lead you to over-expenditure of budgets compared to earlier years.

The issue at hand here is whether you are actively looking for your Gen-Y customers and consumers or whether you are simply waiting for them to come to you. Not only is this distinction imperative to understand, playing hide and seek with this generation can be extremely costly. We look where we choose to look. Not where you tell or want us to look.

We’re no longer subject to simply watching TV and waiting for the commercial to be over. If I’m not watching TV, I’m on my laptop. And if I’m not on my laptop, I’m on my BlackBerry. And if I’m on my laptop and BlackBerry, I’m not watching what’s on the TV. The most fascinating point in all of this is the only advertisement I remember is the cute one my girlfriend posted on my Facebook wall.

It’s fascinating because like most members of Gen-Y, I’m always connected with the platforms of TV, the internet and mobile. In any situation, we’re most likely on one of the three. And when it comes right down to it, I can hardly recall a time when a friend wasn’t more influential than an ad. If you want my opinion, you should hire Gen-Y to reach Gen-Y.

Nothing stands out more on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, well in any circumstance, than a personal touch. Amidst all the clutter and noise, you have no choice but to eventually become personal in your relationships. Whether you like it or not, you’ll have to make that effort. It’s never good to assume anything, but just like everyone assumes the internet provides the answers to everything, everyone also assumes that everyone else is “social”. And this is slowly catching on with in the world of apps. “How come they don’t have an app?!”

So if you’re waiting to be found by Gen-Y, there’s a really good chance you’ll slip through the cracks. It’s not about presence. It’s about engagement. With everything we have technologically available, we actually know about everything before it comes out. And we’ve already made our decision before you’ve even began advertising to us. And we’ve made our decisions known to everyone around us. It’s an interesting cycle and endless cycle.

I’m not the doom and gloom type nor am I suggesting Gen-Y is unreachable. In fact, this is probably greatest moment in time when you can actually reach who ever you like. And it’s not an issue of great content. Great content has always existed. You just have to jump into a Gen-Y frame-of-mind. You have to be interesting, different and use what we use. You have to come looking for us.

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The Green Generation

The Millennials, also known as Generation Y, have been referred to as Digital Natives, iGeneration and Generation Me amongst many other classifications that somehow attempt to classify the times of these young people. And though this has become a clichéd experience for the Millennials, since we’re the only generation that has been given an alter-ego every so often, I’m throwing another one into the mix. Mind you, it has some climate and environmental significance.

Over the last decade, the green movement has built-up some considerable momentum. From the introduction of green products to political tactics, legal involvement and the many environmental disasters that have occurred, climate and environmental issues are seemingly here to stay. Especially if the Millennials have anything to say about it.

The Millennials have unknowingly already had a significant impact on the environmental movement themselves. By purchasing cars later in life and not being able to move out, they have positively effected the environment. And though the inclination to be green is tougher than it appears to be, there is a very strong sentiment towards it.

A recent study by LifeWay Research shows that 87% of the Millennials believe “it is up to my generation to clean up the environment.” Something of which 41% strongly agree with. What’s more intriguing is the fact that this sentiment expands into other areas of importance. Fascinatingly, we came up with this thought-process, as opposed to it being forced on to us.

Millennials are amongst the highest supporters of causes, which has significant influence on the products we buy, on the places we choose to work and where we choose to invest. Equally, as the above research study suggests, roughly 66% of the Millennials voting habits will be impacted by a political candidate’s environmental consciousness.

And the numbers only get greener when you get into the dynamics of the auto industry. 64% of the Millennials said they would pay more for a vehicle that was environmentally friendly or one that saves money on energy costs. Further, 73% stated that the environment is an especially significant factor when deciding to purchase a vehicle. And lastly, almost half believe that the vehicle they drive makes a difference in addressing the environmental issue.

I think it’s safe to suggest that the Millennials are concerned about being greener, about the climate and the overall betterment of the environment. Everything reflects that sentiment. And until there are indications that show significant  improvements have occurred, green-thinking will only continue to rise. And rightfully so. This is our environment.

So call the them what you like, Climate Gen, Generation Clean-up or the Green-Gen. There can be no denying that the Millennials want a significant green turn around. After all, we do have to live on this beautiful planet for some time still. But I just can’t help but wonder why it’s taken decades to come to this point. I guess you can just add it to our growing list of adversity. Thankfully, us twentysomethings have some time to clean this mess up.

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Using the Millennials to Your Uncharacteristic Advantage (Part 2)

The Millennials have had an unprecedented impact on just about everything. Their behaviour, actions and mode of thought are significantly different from anything we’ve seen before. And as I suggested in my previous article, the strength of the Millennials is more profound than often perceived. While they create a digital gap between themselves and their parents at one moment, they at the same time close that gap by actually being the providers of technological necessity.

Though the parents of Millennials are amongst the largest growing segment in area’s such as social media, they do not hold that same inherent behaviour and savyness that Millennials bring. As I alluded to in my previous article, though you might not understand the technological behaviour of the Millennials or even agree with it, you will undeniably use their strengths when needed. And as a result, they’ve single-handedly become the biggest influencers of their parents and those seeking answers Millennials can quickly find.

Beyond this, Millennials hold an established and significant level of influence over their Millennial colleagues. From aspects such as personal opinions, shared emotions, growing networks and instant communication, their level of influence on each other is overwhelming.

The traditional friend-to-friend, acquaintance-to-acquaintance and even person-to-person influence was always reserved for those few individuals you would always interact with. Just 5 years ago, before the mainstream boom of social media and mobile devices, our group associations were smaller, more intimate and based on established relationships. But thanks to technological advances, everything has been redefined and amplified.

Though the value of relationships has stayed the same, the way we approach and build them has changed forever. Just 5 years ago, our influence would only reach those simply around us on a daily basis. Now, each individual, each Millennial is a network in themselves. At any given moment, each Millennial is being influenced by the hundreds of different networks that are encompassed within all their supposed friendships.

From the ongoing publicly viewed conservations, shared thoughts and experiences, and pure but simple personal opinions, these characteristics have become the growing and defining moments of many of our decisions. As a result, the slightest influence will either persuade or dissuade our decisions and choices. By no means should we be considered naïve. Rather, we’re merely highly informed to just about everything that happens.

This should be no wonder as Millennials lead the way in many areas of social networking and mobile phone usage. The value and significance is known. And success always sounds like stories of lore from times past, since no one has been able to truly keep a sustainable effort. There have been flashes of brilliance with viral marketing campaigns. But like biological viruses themselves, these viral successes come and go only to be talked about as “remember when…” thought pieces for the future conversations.

What we know is that Millennials connect, share and absorb. Yes, absorb. To borrow a misquoted line from the Field of Dreams, “if you build it, [he] they will come.” And as usage rates increase in just about every field with the Millennials, the analogy does relatively hold true. So how do you penetrate the Millennial mind? How do you influence these influencers from the inside?

The reality is there is no straight answer but that shouldn’t suggest it can’t be achieved. It’s rather difficult to market and advertise to us because we’re looking where we want to look and not where you want us to look. A starting point would be to think like a Millennial. Understanding what values Millennials hold would be the next step. But the underlying factor in all of this is that Millennial-to-Millennial influence can’t be de-emphasized or misunderstood. Good or bad, the Millennials networks will decide everything for you.

Everything is always just one Facebook share, one tweet, one text away from a decision.

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