Old Media. New Tricks.

Generation Now

Posted on: June 23, 2008

My grandfather told me a great lesson about how he was a successful salesman.

Whenever he would call on a client, he didnt just talk to the manager.  He talked to the clerks, to reception, to the assistants.  You see, the man in the corner office may be the boss today, but the ones on the bottom rungs will be the boss tomorrow, or will move to another company to be the boss.

By talking to the rest of the staff, my grandfather was effectively growing his business by creating relationships that would be valuable in the future.  Yes, the assistant wasnt going to be buying his widgets today, but 3 yrs later he was buying them by the bushel.

The same thing is happening with the internet.  We have two generations, one that didnt grow up with it, and one that is.

The managers in power, making decisions now, didnt grow up with this internet, and don’t understand how to use it – but those below are powering it up for a generational coup the likes that has never been seen before.

If you company doesn’t have a social media strategy, a way to reach out and touch your audience and become a part of their lives, they’re going to forget you ever existed.

The youth of today (and youth can now mean anyone under 30) are constantly connected.  They’re online all the time.  They tell their friends what they’re feeling and doing, not day by day, but second by second.

Here’s a quote from a great post on the new Generation Gap from Jeremiah Omywang.

Last weekend, my kid sister has graduated from college. 10 years my junior, she starts her first full time job in San Francisco. Already armed with a network connected to her on Facebook, Instant Messaging tools (and probably MySpace too), she enters the workforce connected to her new employers: customers, partners, and even competitors.

What they are on their profiles echos to their networks, and if they indicate they are employed (many do) then they are now representatives of the brand.

Companies have three choices when it comes to understanding this opportunity: 1) Do nothing. Most companies are unaware of these changes, or even if they are, they are unsure of the possibilities. 2) Shut it down. Some companies have locked Facebook, YouTube and other ‘time-wasters’ away from employees, but now with today’s pervasive mobile devices (iPHone, Blackberry, Nokia, Sidekick), there is no blocking it. 3) Make use of the opportunity. Employees, whether they realize it or not are the front line of the company, they can be support, they can be sales, or they can just be brand ambassadors.[quote]

Jeff Pulver is aware of this Generation Gap too.

My kids have been on the Internet since they were 3 years old. They have in fact grown up on the Internet. Now at 14, the Internet is a part of my sons daily routine and there are days when they spend more time on the Internet than I do. Each of them have discovered their passions and spend their time on the Internet exploring the things which interest them. The Internet is a part of their home.

Back when I was in school, I remember my summer vacation as the time once I was finished with school in June, I did not think about most of the kids in school until I returned in September. And I for one didn’t mind being free from my daily routine. I didn’t miss most of the people in school and enjoyed the opportunity to discover myself and discover my passions during the summer….

Fast forward to the Summer of 2008 and for my kids who just finished the 8th grade, everything seems different now. And I believe the parents of kids who are 14 years old who are not active in the social media space will have little appreciation for how connected their own kids are these days. The generation gap between these kids and their parents has the potential of being the biggest in many decades.

The train is steaming down the tracks and if you don’t quickly by a ticket, this train won’t just pass you by, it will roll right over you.

Look at the bottom rungs of your demographic ladder, that’s your future.  You can’t grow your business the way it’s been growing for decades, your farming methods need to change.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

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