We may not like Cathryn Sloan’s tone…but we cannot escape her reality.

I have been reading lots and lots of reaction to Cathryn Sloan’s article “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25” featured on NextGenJounral.com. I have to say that I applaud her voice and her premise, whether or not if we like her tone.

I read all the negative and hateful reaction in the comments section below her article, most of which came from seasoned marketing professionals. Here is the funny thing about her article and premise she provided…all the negative comments reinforced the fact the her generation is pushing the traditional marketing glass ceiling upward so high…it is shattering.

Also…I have lost lots of respect for many of those seasoned professionals that thought it was fun to add their jabs in the commenting section of this article. Especially the ones that called her generation arrogant. Your negativity reinforced her argument and I am saddened that you felt it was fun to join in and take a swing at the punching bag. Especially a generation we need to embrace.

As a regular lecturer working with both undergraduates and graduate students, I am amazed each day how the social space is a second language to not only Generation Y…but also Generation C.

There is a shift happening in the workplace and Generation Y will soon be replacing the Baby Boomers in the workplace…76 million of them. So what about Generation X…they are the current VP’s of Communications and Marketing working for the Baby Boomers…hoping to land those next positions. They do not want to get jumped.

So let’s look at Cathryn and Generation Y.

Generation Y is the fastest growing segment of the workforce, growing from 14% to 21% over the past four years. Most Baby Boomers will phase out of the workforce in the next 10 to 20 years and Generation Y will rapidly assume the place of the Baby Boomers.

The Gen Y experience is centered around a growing, technologically connected society who are not only learning the common discourse of the web…BUT creating their own discourse in the social space. These discourse communities are the ones driving the advertising market space and they are taking a commanding front seat to not only becoming the lead in purchasing power but social influence.

Gen X is stuck in transitioning from device to device because we were the greatest usability test for this technological era. Gen Y is commanding how these devices are created. Actually…some groups like Neilsen consider the 18-34 age range Generation C.

“The latest Census reports that Americans 18-34 make up 23 percent of the U.S. population, yet they represent an outsized portion of consumers watching online video (27%), visiting social networking/blog sites (27%), owning tablets (33%) and using a smartphone (39%). Their ownership and use of connected devices makes them incredibly unique consumers, representing both a challenge and opportunity for marketers and content providers alike. Generation C is engaging in new ways and there are more touch points for marketers to reach them.”

If you want to look at the infographic from this study…here it is and it is quite intriguing.

Gen C uses technology as their oxygen where networking online is critical with the need for instant gratification. They are and will be multi-focused in work-life. Technology is completely embedded into their daily life and their physical space and technology are well integrated.

So what does all this mean and what does all this have to do with Cathryn’s premise. Let me tell a story. I taught a Business Writing Class last semester and the final project was to work with a large organization to create and social media strategy for an event promotion. The class was split into groups and competed to create the best strategy.

This large organization had been pitched numerous ideas by from well-respected marketing firms, yet they were still looking for something innovative, fun, and engaging for the community. In one month, these 25 college students created six strategies that not only met the needs of the organization, but provided some amazing insight and innovation. They basically blew the socks off this organization, exceeding expectations of the organization that had already been pitched by well-respected marketing firms. Why? Because they live and breathe the social space…they just had to learn how integrate audience analysis and execution.

The social space is not going anywhere. It is here to stay and the next leaders of this space will be the Cathryns of the world. They are confident in their abilities and have an eagerness to show what they have. They also have something much different…they have the entrepreneurial spirit.

Generation C scares the hell out of us not only because of how smart they are, and how connected they’ve become, and how easily they integrate themselves into this social space… but also how expendable Generation X is in this exponentially evolving American economy.

We need to quit fussing and complaining about Cathryn because we might be answering to her one day… sooner rather than later. I already am. One of my former students is now my client in a large hospital system. I have a pretty good time doing business with her.

It is up to us seasoned professionals to help shaped this generation and learn to leverage their knowledge. We may not like the tone of her article, but we cannot escape her reality.

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