By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter
The Millennial generation has been a hot topic for managers and marketers for many years now; in fact you used to call us Generation Y. Not everyone agrees on the exact years for each generation, but it’s generally accepted that Millennials are those born between 1980 and sometime between 1998 and 2000. Generation Z is the next upcoming generation with birth years in the 1990s through 2010. Predictions are already being made about the generation of kids born after 2010 as well!
People used to call Millennials “digital natives” due to our comfort using the internet and technology in general. But the generation after is what I would consider truly digital natives.
Millennial Technology Experience
Take me as an example. I’m a member of the Millennial generation and I can trace the growth of technology through my formative years. I recall changing the channel on the television using a dial and improving the picture on the tube TV by repositioning bunny ears. I used DOS and the first laptop computer I ever touched had a black and white screen. I looked up phone numbers in the phonebook and had to take typing classes in school. But we also caught on as technology advanced by leaps and bounds. I think that’s part of why the Millennial generation is so quick to learn – we had to adapt quickly.
Generation Z Technology Experience
The next generation that communicators should be preparing for is Generation Z. Those who knew how to use a mobile phone before they could sit in the front seat of a car. Those who stream music, TV and movies as the norm and consider DVDs to be “old” technology and don’t know what the “Save” icon really is.
The need for visual and video content is apparent now, but this generation will consume content differently and we need to be talking to them the way that they want to be talked to. Now more than ever, people have more control over the messages that reach them.
Everything travels fast, which enhances the need for real-time marketing and virtual communication. In our B2B space, we’re often protected and can learn from the mistakes and triumphs of others because we don’t start talking to this generation until they enter the workforce, so pay attention now. Watch the consumer brands that communicate to a younger demographic. You’ll notice an increase in visual, real-time communication, but don’t think that means your brand needs to get on SnapChat or Instagram to communicate with the new generation.
By and far, mobile, visual, app-based social media is being used for interpersonal communication among peers. Instead, this group is turning to video on YouTube as well as on Facebook. This is an area where you should be upping your game now. Video is such a valuable content marketing tool for your brand as it is. Refresh yourself on 6 Tips For Using Video To Tell Your Story and make sure you’re working video content into your integrated marketing plans.
It may seem strange to bring up live conversations when talking about a digitally native generation, but technology makes live conversations even easier. Livestreaming, video chatting and other services facilitate an in-person conversation without actually being in person. Check out our recommendations for using livestreaming.
Don’t let the next generation of your B2B audience sneak up on you. Take the lessons you’ve learned from communicating with tech-savvy Millennials and the observations that you make on communications with digital natives in Generation Z and implement them in your marketing communication plans today.