Maybe it IS a Generational Thing

I have the opportunity to speak to lots of groups about new tools for marketing their business. These tools include blogs, social media sites, search engine optimization, email marketing and more. I am so excited about the line of work I am in. I think this marketing shift is a powerful thing to be a part of. By marketing shift I mean more control, opportunity and techniques to measure your own businesses marketing efforts and becoming less and less dependent on third party marketing services.

At most group discussions I am a part of there is at least one comment, usually at the very end, of someone saying “Well don’t you think this is just a generational thing?

Short answer: Probably, yes but there is more to it than that.

How each generation works is different than the generation before them

A large point for more experienced workers is that they don’t consider participating in social media as “work”. Those who use social media tools don’t consider it “work” either. We consider it a tool for communication, like the phone, fax machine or email. Millennials and Gen Y’s are under the microscope from Boomers because how they are choosing to work is vastly different than those before them. They are using new tools, have new ways of reaching out to customers, work different hours and blur the lines between what is work and what is not.

Redefining what we call work

The Millennials, who are coming right up in the work force, is the only generation that doesn’t cite work ethic as one of its “principal claims to distinctiveness”. The same percent that cited work ethic also cited clothes as a claim to distinctiveness. This will probably change as it did with the stereotypes Gen Xers had to deal with.

What IS true is that what is defined as work is changing. The traditional 9 – 5 is getting stretched to its capacity. First it was 8:30 – 5, then 8:30 – 6 and now many of us are checking our email, preparing content and speaking with clients at all hours of the day.

I spoke with a nice gentleman recently who told me he ‘didn’t know how I did it’, carrying around my phone all the time, making time to tweet and write, checking email at all hours of the evening, etc. I told him the same goes for me to him. The thought of coming into my office and checking the emails that have piled up over night causes me anxiety. If I get 30 emails overnight, my whole morning is ruined with just checking emails. Now I know what is coming in and can plan out my day better. I feel like I hit the morning ground running. That is what works for me and it doesn’t work for him. I am not wrong and he is not wrong.

The term ‘weisure‘, work+leisure, was developed to describe this blurring of the lines of work and leisure time. Are we more willing to work on our free time because work is more fun? Or maybe we just have more work to do then can be done in a traditional work week?

“Social networking as an activity is one of those ambiguous activities. It’s part fun and part instrumental in our knowledge economy.”

Dalton Conley via CNN article Welcome to the ‘weisure’ lifestyle

Blending Work and Pleasure means losing your privacy

As we work more in our leisure time and we participate in social media sites while we work – the lines are getting blurred between the two. Most people have a public version of themselves and then they have a private one seen only by their family and friends. As we use Facebook to connect with business partners or add tidbits about our weekend life on our Twitter stream everyone needs to consider what they and their company are comfortable sharing on social networks and in their personal lives. Younger generations seem more comfortable on social networking sites with countless pictures and videos of them and their friends. At some point that content will be reflected on when they join the workforce in a more professional sector. We work with businesses often about setting social media policies to outline exactly what the business and the employees are comfortable sharing publicly. Whether or not you make a policy, these are important discussions to have with your staff.

New Tools mean new workspaces or lack thereof

With smartphones, online meeting services, social networking sites, real time searches, video phones and web cams does this mean people who are comfortable using these tools still see value in sitting in an office from 9 – 5? Gen Xers and Millenials are more apt to look for businesses that offer a work from home option or more flexible hours.

Work Shifting is the popular term for people who web commute to their jobs often, if not daily, and work from coffee shops, restaurants and hotels. In a recent article from Work Shifting ‘How Millennials Are Shaping the Future of Work‘ the author tackles some of the major things Millennials have contributed to change the way we work. She points out how technology and human interaction go hand in hand, marketing is a two way conversation and change is just part of the way the world works now.

Technology and Social Media keep changing

Millennials seem more able to change than any of the other members of the workforce. This generation grew up with quick advances in technology, unlike the ones before it. Change seems to be a way of life and not an unwanted inconvenience. As we have discussed on this blog before, not all the changes (very few honestly) will have a major impact on your business. If you are going to incorporate technology and take control of your own marketing align yourself with an Internet Marketing Travel Agent or someone you trust who is inline with your company goals to keep you in-the-know about advances in technology that will affect your business. For example I do a weekly recap of internet news that I think may influence the small to medium-sized businesses and B2B businesses that we work with.

Those are just a few of my thoughts on the changes in how we work through generations. So yes, I do think ‘it’ is a generational thing but the ‘it’ isn’t social media, the ‘it’ is how we work. How we work is different and social media is just a new tool to communicate in our workday. How we incorporate it (or don’t) is up to each organization and each person.

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