I'm talking about the 'youth' demographic, and at 26 years old, I am now coming to terms with the fact that this isn't me. So who is this elusive group, and what makes them so special?
Imagine a whole group of people that grew up with digital technology. They don't need to learn the ins and outs of social media - they were brought up on it. This growing portion of the population are consuming content like mad and are demanding a whole lot more from it (and us)...and now they're about to enter the work-force.
Can we keep up?
The not-so-secret life of students
When I first heard of the Channel 4 program "the secret life of students", honestly I couldn't have been less interested. I know students - I've been one after all. What could I really learn from it? Apparently quite a lot.
The premise of the show is that, like all the other reality tv shows, it follows a group of people around in their day-to-day lives. Unlike other reality shows however, this show follow the students around digitally. Using the Digital Rig (D-Rig), by giving a phone to each participant, the team were able to capture WhatsApp messages, phone calls, Google searches and all social media activity 24 hours a day.
What were the results?
Did they have anything interesting to say?
But what the program (or social study...) did show was the sheer volume of content that was produced. 200,000 pieces of content were created throughout filming, with one student sending 100 WhatsApp messages per day...
The other thing it showed was how open and assertive they were about some pretty sensitive issues. They knew they were being monitored. They were aware that each of their communications was being read or listened to by strangers. But this didn't seem to deter them.
The game has changed
The difference between this content generation and the one before it is that digital communication is their first form of communication. Technology isn't seen as a necessary evil, but instead an extension of thought. This means that the content produced via social media and other public channels is real, raw and personal. No well-constructed, formal letters. Instead, free, unadulterated thought.
So, as we become better at communicating this way, will it become the norm?
Adapt to survive
I'm afraid to say that this can't be contained within a small group of people. With new technology developing every day, this form of behaviour will undoubtedly keep growing with each new generation.
As the saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them. Can we use this information to alter the way we communicate with our customers and clients? If they are much more connected and open, we should both encourage this as a means to gaining valuable information from them, but also we should be following this trend ourselves.
Just because our content is online, doesn't mean it should be impersonal. People don't want to deal with faceless companies, they want to deal with individuals that they can trust and relate to on an emotional level - and who can blame them? It may make you feel vulnerable, but the rewards could be immense.
Are you sharing personal information with your prospects?