Social Media Generation Gap

Episode 001 of the podcast devoted to ideas that matter to the rest of us.

Listen to the entirety of Episode 001: Social Media Generation Gap

The Generation Gap on Social Media

Do Millennials respond to Facebook ads? Should you market to Gen Z? What matters to you the most about social media and generations? Should you be paranoid about your privacy?

Should you walk around naked in public?

In our inaugural podcast episode, we try to get to the bottom of the generation gap in social media (and in everything else), and we talk about technology and intergenerational coexistence. (I love you, Mom!)

Below the guy in tinfoil (thanks gratisography), we will break the episode down into little digestible bits, in case that’s how you like to consume your media. Or subscribe to the podcast in its full length via the links at the bottom of the post.

Is there reason to be paranoid about social media or privacy on the internet?

Engaging with Branded Content on Social Media

Nadia: So I was just browsing the internet, and I stumbled upon some very interesting statistics about social media. People aged 55 to 64 years old are more than twice as likely to engage with branded content on social media than those 28 or younger.

Kent: So if you want to sell a pencil to a parent for their kids — some kind of really awesome rainbow pencil — you might actually have some success, but you should aim for that older parent.

Nadia: Yeah, I guess that makes sense. And also, younger folks are less sensitive to sponsored content, and they’re more suspicious of sponsored content.

Digital Natives Neglected?

Nadia: Even if we look at Gen Z — the kids who are just growing up who are teenagers — they will have huge purchasing power in the next few years. You know, they are consumers online, but they just consume information, and they consume products differently.

No one really cares about Generation Z.

They don’t have big purchasing power yet. For example, my brother is thirteen years old, he is Gen Z, and he is online all the time, but he doesn’t have any income to spend on products. That’s why no one cares about this generation (yet), but you know, we should care about them, because only maybe five years from now, they will buy a lot, and they will buy online.

Kent: And they’re going to enter the workplace really soon, right? Right now, the first members of that generation are in college, and there are toddlers that are part of that same generation. People call them the digital natives — you know, I’m a complete digital immigrant — I did not even have email until college. I found a couple of statistics myself. Ninety-two percent of teenagers (Generation Z) are online every single day, 92 percent. So this is just part of their lives.

Nadia: They were born when social media was already here, so they just accept it as a part of their life, and that’s why they use it differently. I think they understand social media better, and even though you see that they’re online all the time, it doesn’t interfere with their real lives, because they know exactly how to handle the issues of privacy and transparency and things like that.

Walking Naked in Public: Privacy and Social Media

Nadia: You know there’s whole debate about social media privacy, and people argue about what you should post and things you shouldn’t post in social media. People talk about keeping your accounts private, so no one can see pictures and personal information. As a teenager, my brother does understand this debate, but he says, “Why would you even worry about it?” In his mind, there are something things you do, and some things you just never do because it’s common sense.

This is like trying to explain to a Millennial that you should not walk around naked in the streets.

It’s just common sense that you don’t do this. Similarly, to Gen Z kids, it’s common sense that you don’t post things on social media that you shouldn’t — for example, disclosing your location and things like that. It’s just a very different just perception of social media and the issue of privacy.

Kent: My dad, who is 70, is in the very tail end of the Silent Generation before the Boomers came around. When he was a kid, they would all be around the table, and it was “Don’t speak until you are spoken to” — you know, you just listened, and it was a very different culture. You would go outside to play, and all that kind of thing; the old classic upbringing. With his generation, when it comes to computers, it’s all about privacy.

You were talking about Gen Z and thinking about privacy, and it’s coming full circle three generations later. The Silent Generation are the ones who have fears like:

“There somebody outside the house in a van, and they’re hacking into our Wifi.”

Understanding Privacy: X, Y & Z

Nadia: Well, for me it is a very clear cycle in how the understanding of privacy online changes from Boomers to Gen X, to Gen Y, and now to Gen Z. Gen Z has seen what can happen when you disclose too much information online; they have seen a lot of examples that show the things you shouldn’t have or do online. And now they have this fear because they know what can happen. The same goes for the Silent Generation and to some extent Baby Boomers.

For the generations in between — Gen X and the Millennials — it was a transition time when people would stumble, and they would try things, and some things would work, but then other people would fail. There are so many stories where people would destroy their careers or families, just because they didn’t pay enough attention to what they put online.

Kent: When you talk about kind of destroying your family and career, it reminds me of a story in the past of my family, where one of the patriarchs way back had three different families. In the style of the television show “Mad Men”, it was very possible to have multiple families and affairs and all of those kinds of things, because there wasn’t an internet, and there wasn’t the open transparent culture we have now.

Promotional image from Mad Men, the TBS original series

Transparency & Globalization

Kent: So, there’s been a fascinating, positive trend of having to be more honest. You have to be. If you’re a politician, you can’t say stupid stuff, or if you do say it, people will see it now.

The other thing that I think is positive is globalization. Millennials say, “So what?, I have a friend in France.” It used to be that, if you were lucky, you would have a Pen Pal in France — that was a huge deal — and this globalized thinking has really broken down barriers.

Nadia: I think the implications of these trends are huge for business, as well. I’m very happy to see things changing for the better in terms of transparency in business.

You have to be authentic online.

In a way, transparency makes it far more difficult, especially when you are dealing with Millennials and Gen Z customers. But on the other hand, transparency helps businesses create better products and better services, because they have to be very transparent. As a business, you now have to listen to your followers and to your consumers.

Listen to the entirety of Episode 001: Social Media Generation Gap

If you want to hear more, subscribe to the podcast on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, Player.fm, or via the RSS Feed. If you have ideas that matter to share, email us: ideas@ideasthatmatter.co

Thanks for listening!

Nadia & Kent

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