Why Generational Stereotypes Are Just Plain Lazy

Stereotypes, don’t we just love them. Rather than doing the research and taking the time to understand what makes us different isn’t it so much easier to apply mostly derogatory – or at the least demeaning terms – to make up for our ignorance? Millennials are lazy, job-hoppers, Xers are all cynical, Boomers are selfish and Gen Z have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Really!? By creating these stereotypes, we demonise huge swathes of our society and turn generations against each other, leading to mistrust and disrespect, and unfortunately, this behaviour isn’t limited solely to the generations.

Generational labels are also all too often hijacked by one generation to demean another. This may come from a sense of superiority, or that it’s easy, and fun (for some) but also derives from a lack of understanding, and is a practice that pervades traditional and social media.

How is any of this helpful? How can this approach build a more inclusive and collaborative society or workplace? Clearly, it can’t, and it won’t.

My knowledge of generational differences came not through choice, but out of necessity. When running a business, retention is key to productivity and understanding the values and needs of your team a pre-requisite. As a marketer, you have to know your customers and tailor your messaging accordingly. Ask any professional salesman what communication platforms they use, and they’ll tell you “the platform that my customers are on”. Sales people make a point of understanding the preferences of their clients and flex their style accordingly. Having worn many hats in my career, I’ve learnt through experience what works, and what doesn’t, but have also come to recognise the commonalities that exist. Understanding these unique generational traits has become a mission in recent years in order to help businesses break down the divides and accelerate growth through a shared understanding.

To provide a few examples of the importance of understanding the facts behind the headlines, let’s look at a few of the most common, or recent stereotypes.

The 8-Second Attention Span

Goldfish have a higher attention span that Gen Z (those born from 2001 and onwards), or so the headlines tell us. This would suggest that the tweens and mid-teens that fall into this generation can’t concentrate. Gen Z are the second generation of digital natives, they’re always on and subject to a huge amount of online noise. They manage this by handling information at an incredibly fast pace and the 8-second attention span is more akin to an 8-second filter. Whilst the amount of data is limitless, their time is not, and they’re able to decide within that 8-seconds whether it’s worthy of their attention. Gain their attention though – and they’re all in.

Cynical Gen X

The Oxford English dictionary defines cynical as “believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity” So do all Xers fall into this category – clearly not – but it’s a great headline grabber. But why is it so regularly attributed to Generation X?

Understanding someone’s history can tell us a lot about the individual – and generational cohorts are no different. Generation X were more likely than any preceding generation to grow up with divorced parents and many witnessed them facing redundancy, having given years of loyal service to their respective employers. The mistrust this created towards corporations was only exacerbated by the stock market crash of 1987 which coincided with many Xers entering the workplace. On the political front, the Vietnam War and its aftermath tainted the political process for many, whilst the Cold War heralded a general climate of fear and suspicion.

Are many Gen X suspicious of politicians and the ‘establishment’ based on their background? Yes, but does it therefore follow that they are all distrustful of human sincerity and integrity? Absolutely not.

Millennials are Lazy

Along with accusations of Millennials being job-hoppers and lacking loyalty – this is another ‘classic’ sure to create offence and send Gen Y’s eyes skyward in exasperation.

Pay and financial benefits drive Millennials job choices but second to that is a good work/life balance according to most research – including the highly objective 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey. The importance of this shouldn’t be underestimated and the fact that 47% of Millennials said they would consider giving up a well-paid/prestigious job to gain better work-life balance in a recent Universum study shows the strength of feeling.

Not sacrificing your life for your employer grates with some leading to accusations of laziness but Millennials have witnessed the sacrifices of their parent’s first hand and seen the sometimes negative outcomes – stress, ill-health, burnout. Sure they’re playing the long game but from an employer’s perspective who’s more effective, the well-balanced employee, or those that don’t invest in relationships, are constantly stressed and fly ever closer to the flame? Ultimately, the desire for balance is a way for this generation to achieve the long-term career goals they’ve set themselves.

There’s an App for That

As the first generation of digital natives, Millennials are constantly looking to technology to do things faster, and in more efficient way. They have clear expectations about how technology should be used and expect technology to drive communication in the workplace. This can create intergenerational conflict where workplaces are resistant to change and working styles old-fashioned and rigid. It can also generate the misconception that Millennials are working less hard, rather than a recognition that they’re simply working smarter.

Last but not least is career progression, which is high on the list of Millennials priorities and what attracts most to their employers. They are highly ambitious, confident in their abilities and expect to rise rapidly through the ranks. This is at odds with the ‘traditional’ career path where you put in the hours, serve your time and gradually move up the later – maybe. Delayed gratification is perhaps less applicable to this generation but does the willingness to make things happen fast also make them lazy? When a Millennials values are aligned with their employer, they’re managed effectively and the company invests in their skills development – they’ll put in the hours and are all-in.

The Truth is Out There

Once we dispel the stereotypes and see them for what they are, the door is open to a deeper and truer understanding of the generations which can benefit both business and personal relationships alike. Millennials want to work smart and have a wealth of knowledge on the best technologies to achieve this – let’s be open to this. GenZ filter content at lightning speed and are true experts in two of the most popular and fastest growing social platforms: Snapchat and Instagram – what can we learn from them? There’s no harsher critic than a GenZ (I know!) and if what you’re doing on social is ‘cringey’ or just plain ‘rubbish’ – you’ll soon know about it. Reverse mentoring is a small but growing trend in forward thinking businesses, but just as applicable at home.

Everyone’s got something to offer if we take the time to learn and understand. My training promotes generational differences in a positive and constructive way, dispelling misinformation and focussing on building understanding and trust. Whilst bias and the perpetuation of stereotypes will never go way, generational theory, based on solid research helps people see these stereotypes for what they truly are.

You can find more of my articles on generational dynamics, recruitment and retention here:
Do Millennials Lack Loyalty?
Where Do 265,000 Millennials Most Want to Work?
How Your Business Can Influence Graduates
Not Another Post About Millennials!

Craig has been involved in recruiting, managing and getting the best from multi-generational workforces for over two decades and uses this experience, combined with the latest research and studies to help firms break down the generational divide. For more information, visit mygeneration.co and connect on LinkedIn.

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How Your Business Can Influence Graduates

The talent pool for UK businesses was already finite and potentially just got smaller following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Whilst we are a long way off understanding the potential outcomes of the Brexit, it seems unlikely that the ease and simplicity with which UK businesses currently employ the best graduates from other EU countries will continue in the future. Companies competing for the best talent emanating from Universities and Colleges is not exclusive to the UK either, nor limited solely to the big multinationals – so how can businesses influence and attract the best graduates?

Don’t Compete with Cat Memes

Millennials are the first generation of digital natives and have grown up in an online world. As a result, those aged 18 to 29 are the most likely to use social media according to a Pew Research study – and 90% do. So it seems a logical approach for businesses to focus on digital content and social media to influence Millennial graduates. One of the main issues with this strategy is the level of ‘noise’ that now exists on social platforms, making it increasingly difficult to garner attention online. Facebook’s declining organic reach continues to challenge marketing departments and employer branded content competes with cat memes and recipes for baked apple desserts.

The exception to the rule is LinkedIn and whilst this has become an important tool in HR’s armoury, its reach is limited for those just starting out in their careers. Also, despite there being 87 million Millennials on the network, they’re often critical of the platform.

So if the focus isn’t on social – then where? Employer branding expertsUniversum joined forces with INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute and the HEAD Foundation to carry out the first large-scale study of Millennials attitudes in 2014, and the results were surprising.

The study, which surveyed 16,000+ people between 18 and 30 years old in 43 countries found that whilst the assumption would be that social networks would top the list of channels most used – it came third. The clear leader was employer websites, with career fairs coming in second.

Understanding Millennials

What is more surprising is that when asked about their preferred channels – versus those they actually used – employer presentations topped the list, with career fairs again coming in second. This starts to make sense when considering Millennials desire for experiences that will shape their identity and life. Another important factor is that Millennials want brands and companies to engage with them, not market to them, and interactive presentations and career fairs are the ideal opportunities. Millennials know what they’re looking for from an employer; a good work/life balance, opportunities to progress, flexibility and a role that provides a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success are all high on the list. Presentations and fairs allow them to listen, question and engage and deliver an experience that just can’t be replicated online.

universum chart (2)

Another myth debunked by the study’s findings was the influence of family. One of the (many) stereotypes surrounding Millennials is that their parents continue to micro-manage their lives into adulthood. On the contrary, only 10% of Millennials said their parents were ‘very involved’ in career decisions. Instead, the main source of information on potential employers came from other people they know who have worked/are working for the employer. Businesses can utilise this information in a number of ways to recruit talented graduates. One strategy is to deploy an employee referral rewards scheme as no one knows a company’s culture better than those working there and can give a sense of whether a person will be a good fit for an organisation.

Creating a comprehensive recruitment programme is important for any business looking to develop a graduate workforce but before your business can recruit, you need to influence and engage. The takeaways from Universum’s study are clear; Millennials want face time, not digital content and they want to be engaged with, not marketed too. Ultimately, the experience your business delivers at universities and colleges could mean the difference between having your pick of the best – or the rest.

For more on recruiting and retaining Millennials, visit MyGeneration.

Don’t Overlook The Xers

Barely a day goes by without new research advising businesses on how to attract, engage and retain Millennial employees, but are businesses focussing enough on the experienced talent they already have? A recent executive survey by Korn Ferry, Futurestep Division would suggest not, which concluded that whilst GenX are the most engaged at work; they receive the least attention. Asked what generation receive the most attention, Millennials ranked first at 58%, with GenX lagging well behind at only 27%. When questioned what generation is believed to be the most engaged, however, and it’s a very different story, with GenX leading the way.

GenX, like Millennials, make up 34% of the labour force* and whilst Millennial numbers will naturally climb over the coming years, GenX will still form 25% by 2020 according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. So how should business retain their experienced and hard-working Xers?

Copy of On Average, What Generation Do You Believe is Most Engaged in the Workforce- (1)

What Matters Most? 
Job stability and development opportunities are important, but GenX values the ability to make a difference above all else. When it comes to the reasons GenX would choose one job over another the story is the same, with close to 50% of those surveyed by Korn Ferry citing the ability to make an impact on a business as the number one reason.

This is a great example of generational differences at work since GenX tends to focus less on the environment around them and more on making a difference by contributing to the success of the business. Millennials, on the other hand, tend to place a higher value on the culture and vision of the company they work for. Making a difference is a key driver for GenX overall and aligned to this is the reason that most Xers stay in a role – having a sense of pride in their work.

Businesses that retain Xers and create the right balance of generations in the workplace typically perform better than those that don’t. This is supported by studies carried out by BMW and Accenture which showed that age diversity delivers measurable benefits in terms of cost saving and profit growth. Interestingly, specialist recruitment agencies are now starting to cater for businesses that are actively looking to recruit workers with 20+ years of experience. One such agency is UK based SkilledPeople. According to their Managing Director, Keith Simpson “SkilledPeople offers employers access to a pool of experienced, well-educated, conscientious people who can add immediate value to a business.” Given the compelling evidence from the studies, it seems likely that far-sighted companies will recruit experienced talent whilst putting strategies in place to retain their loyal and hardworking Xers.

How to Retain GenX

  • Flexible schedules. In the Deloitte Millennial Survey, it wasn’t GenY that showed the greatest preference for flex hours – but GenX, at over 70%. One of the key reasons for this is that whilst Xers generally aspire to (though don’t always achieve) an improved work/life balance, they often have the dual responsibility of ageing parents and raising children. One in three GenX parents feels the pressure of this responsibility. Flexibility in working hours enables Xers to manage these responsibilities more easily and along with telecommuting, is highly valued.
  • Continued learning and skills development is also important to GenX who want ongoing training and seek growth opportunities. Employers should address this need as part of their training strategy and provide them with challenges and opportunities within the organisation, both horizontally, and vertically.
  • Xers have a strong entrepreneurial nature. A recent report by Yahoo found that GenX made up the highest % of start-up founders at 55%, compared with only 29% of Boomers and Millennials at 17%. The same report discovered that 31% of GenX consider themselves ‘entrepreneurial’ and over 1 in 4 had already started their own business or taken active steps towards doing so. Businesses that allow GenX employees to express this entrepreneurial spirit, and harness their drive and ability increase the likelihood of retaining this valuable resource.
  • Mentoring and reverse mentoring programmes. One way to appeal to Xers desire to make a difference is to encourage mentoring; allowing them to share their knowledge and experience with Millennials. Millennials can, in return, add value to Xers through a reverse mentoring programme. These programmes allow GenY to share their knowledge with GenX colleagues, particularly in relation to the areas of social and digital and creates a win-win.
  • Cut them some slack. Xers like to work autonomously and dislike micro-management. Clear and direct communication of goals and expectations is essential, so tell Xers what you need, when you need it and give them the resources, flexibility and freedom to get on with the job.

With so much focus on Millennials, GenerationX can sometimes be overlooked. Both generations bring real value to the workplace and businesses that ignore GenX do so at the expense of increased productivity and profits.

If you would like to know more about retaining and engaging your GenX workforce, contact me at LinkedIn, or visit MyGeneration.

*U.S. Labour Force

Why Overlook Your Most Affluent Customers?

“GENX HAS MORE SPENDING POWER THAN ANY OTHER GENERATION.”
AMERICAN EXPRESS

American Express are not alone in their assessment of the opportunity Xers present. A recent study by Yahoo entitled ‘Gen X: America’s most influential-generation’, showed Xers to have the highest % of estimated net worth dollars and total income dollars per adult of any generation. The same study states that a third of GenX actually felt neglected by advertisers, which shows the strength of feeling given that many consumers feel quite the opposite. In reality, GenX are particularly receptive and open to advertising – especially parents. Yet, despite these compelling reasons for businesses to engage with this influential audience they remain largely overlooked. Why?

A Numbers Game
One of the reasons GenX are often dismissed comes down to numbers. GenX is the ‘middle child’, sandwiched as they are between the larger Boomer and Millennial generations who ultimately defined their boundaries. Xers wound up with a shorter generational period as a consequence versus the usual 19-20 years. The result is 66 million GenX in the US – compared to 74.9 million Boomers and 75.4 million Millennials.

What marketers and businesses often overlook is that whilst smaller in number, GenX are decision makers at both home and in a high-earning, high-spending phase of their lives; they’re also loyal. Crowdtwists Loyalty Program found GenX to boast the highest rate of brand loyalty to their favourite brands, at close to 50%.

“COMPARED TO MILLENNIALS, GENX ARE 22.4% LESS WILLING TO SWITCH BRANDS.”
CROWDTWIST

The Lost Generation
GenX have been labelled as many things over the years – mostly derogatory, from slackers – a stereotype reinforced by popular culture – to the ‘Lost’, ‘Silent’ and ‘Forgotten Generation’. Indeed, they didn’t even have an official name until Douglas Coupland published ‘Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture’ in 1991 which only served to reinforce their ‘inferiority’.

GenX aren’t considered as ‘sexy’ or ‘exciting’ as the Millennials, nor viewed with the same romanticism as the Boomers, but regardless of their name or reputation, they have more spending power than any other generation.

They started their careers at a time when pensions were disappearing, jobs were heading offshore and the stock market crash of 1987 ushered in a recession. Many also saw their parent’s loyalty to corporations ‘rewarded’ by redundancy later in their careers. As a result, GenX can be both sceptical and cynical and know when they’re being ‘pitched’. Earn their trust and respect though by being relevant and authentic and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.

Digital Immigrants
At a time when ‘digital marketing’ is so prevalent and traditional marketing is sometimes overlooked, GenX are often considered less appealing as prospects due to their perceived lack of digital know-how and adoption. Unlike Millennials (the first generation of digital natives), GenX are digital immigrants who grew up pre-internet and have had to transition into technology. They are not as removed from the digital shift as many would perceive though. GenX were the forerunners in the information age and dotcom bubble and famous Xers such as Jack Dorsey, Reid Hoffman and Larry Page continue to have a transformative influence. Almost 79% of GenX are smartphone users, compared to 84% of Millennials and they’re regular visitors to social media sites with Facebook a clear favourite, followed by Youtube and Pinterest.

Whilst GenX consume digital content, they also have a keen appetite for traditional media, which distinguishes them from the younger cohorts. According to Forrester Research, 48% listen to the radio and 62% still read newspapers. It is this mix of old and new media which sometimes leaves businesses confused and unwilling to target GenX, missing a major opportunity in the process.

Smart Marketers
Not everyone is missing out on the opportunity though and a number of savvy brands, particularly in the US, now consider Xers to be core customers. Chipotle is a great example of a business that is reaping the rewards of engaging with GenX and their brand story and company values have created loyalty with Xers. “Food With Integrity” resonates with GenX as both authenticity and quality are highly valued by this cohort.

There are different strategies that can be deployed to engage with GenX, one of which is to focus on the ‘convenience’ of your offering. Xers are in a hectic phase of their lives, often balancing work and family, and are looking for practical solutions. Aldi is a company that has done this very effectively through both their product offering, and marketing approach. GenX seek easy, convenient shopping experiences, affordable prices and good value. Key to maintaining loyalty is consistency with pricing and high-value marketing initiatives. Aldi again excel here, who together with Lidl, have doubled their slice of the UK grocery spend since 2012.

Proctor & Gamble have often taken the classic ‘equity advertising’ approach when targeting GenX in order to create a strong tie to the business, such as their ‘Thank You Mom’ advert – created for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. P&G’s London 2012 Campaign – the forerunner to this – won an Emmy award and is estimated to have added $500 million of additional sales.

Honda too have seen the potential of engaging with GenX. They understood early on that GenX appreciate brands that recognise their lifestyle and sensibilities and have similar attitudes. According to Tom Peyton, avp, advertising at Honda “GenX is not quite as big and sexy, but at the end of the day, they are prime time in their income and they can buy a lot of expensive new cars.” Their approach is clearly paying off , with Honda cars appearing three times in the US top 10 best-selling vehicles of 2015.

Targeting GenX requires unique marketing and creative strategies but engage with Xers effectively and you have access to a loyal, influential and highly affluent demographic.

For more information on generational marketing, contact me on LinkedIn, or visit MyGeneration

Do Millennials Lack Loyalty?

Brain Drain
Millennials are often tagged as a generation of job-hoppers and whilst 2 out of 3 expect to leave their jobs by 2020 according to a recent survey by Deloitte, that’s not the full story.

Every generation has a unique set of characteristics and it’s essential to understand, embrace and act on these if businesses are to retain their employees; and why wouldn’t you? The cost of replacing an employee is thought to average £30,000 – a combination of the logistical cost of recruiting plus the much larger ‘cost’ of lost output during the estimated 28 weeks it takes new recruits to reach optimum productivity levels.

Then there’s the intangible costs of in-house training and management time along with the cultural impact leavers have on the business. That’s quite a compelling case to retain staff it seems and yet a large swathe of Millennials will be moving on unless businesses change the way they recruit and manage them.

As Punit Renjen from Deloitte Global recently stated “There appears to be a disconnect between what Millennials want from business versus what business currently offers them.” There lies the issue, so without companies understanding the needs and aspirations of Millennials they don’t always recruit the right candidates and often struggle to retain those they do employ.

Aligned Values
There’s a number of factors at play here but let’s start with the recruitment process. Shared corporate values create loyalty and where Millennials expect to stay with a company longer than 5 years, 82% consider their values to be aligned with the business according to Deloitte. So aside from the candidate’s technical capabilities and attitude it’s important there’s a good fit when it comes to these shared values. It’s important too that companies consider and communicate their values effectively at the interview stage. A ‘sense of purpose’ is very high on the list of Millennials priorities so it’s important for business to demonstrate a strong company purpose behind its financial success.

“WHILE MILLENNIALS CAN COME ACROSS AS WANTING MORE AND MORE, THE REALITY IS THAT THEY JUST WANT A JOB THAT FEELS WORTHWHILE.”
GALLUP

Whilst the reasons for leaving a company are diverse there’s often a clear driver, and in the case of 6 out of 10 Millennials it’s the fact that their leadership skills are not being fully developed, or their employers are not making full use of the skills they have. Companies need to offer ongoing development and be clear on career progression. Transparency is also key in order to manage expectations. Millennials want to understand what they need to do and by when in order to progress. If progression up the ladder isn’t viable – focus instead on personal development.

It’s Good to Talk
Next up is communication; unlike GenX and Boomers, Millennials desire regular feedback. Whilst communication is key to any successful employer/manager relationship, it’s crucially important when it comes to managing Millennials. Knowing this, it comes as no surprise to learn that when managers don’t hold regular meeting with Millennials, only 20% feel engaged. Creating a regular feedback loop is important then if you don’t want Millennials to start looking elsewhere.

In summary, it’s true that Millennials move jobs more regularly – three times more than non-Millennials according to a recent Gallup survey – but you can hold onto your talent for longer by understanding their needs and aspirations. This understanding will enable you to adapt your recruitment process and managerial style, increasing retention rates and staff productivity.

“Many millennials likely don’t want to switch jobs, but their companies are not giving them compelling reasons to stay,” Gallup reports. Give them a reason.

For the full story and more ideas on retaining Millennials, get in touch on LinkedIn or contact me via MyGeneration

GenX: The Lost Generation?

Generational Cohorts
I have always been interested in Generational Marketing, understanding how the shared experiences of our formative years such as global, political and economic change influence who we are. True, it is dangerous to work with stereotypes and we are all wonderfully unique but those early influences leave their mark. GenerationX (those born from ’65 to ’80) of whom I am a card-holding member were shaped by global political events such as the Thatcher-era government, fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War and particularly for those in the U.S. – Vietnam. We were the first generation of Latchkey Kids and many of us witnessed our parents sacrifice greatly for their companies. As a result, GenX has adapted behaviours of independence, resilience and adaptability.

The Lost Generation?
Often ignored by marketers and the media alike, GenX has sometimes been called ‘The Lost Generation’, ‘The Silent Generation’ or been accused of being disengaged. Whilst there might have been some justification for this in the mid-90’s, it couldn’t be further from reality in the present day. GenX is making up lost ground through family, career and social activism and is keen to leave something better for future generations.

GenX is not a generation without an identity but one that is diverse in its makeup, making it difficult to pigeonhole. We are not mysterious or enigmatic as some would have you believe; we are simply writing our own narrative and making an impact on the world quietly but surely.

Our strong worth ethic, open-mindedness and adaptability have allowed us to grow up studying from books to being signed up members of the social society. We have witnessed the shift from analogue to digital, from ZX Spectrum to iPads and we have embraced it – sometimes reluctantly – but embraced it nevertheless.

Kurt, Bart and MTV
Our influences have been many and varied: MTV was our babysitter, The Simpsons our adopted family and Kurt Cobain our angst. But grown up we have and internationally we are poised to have a big impact on the world as many GenXers take on key roles in the media, business and science and locally, through social and political activities.

Defining generations often leads to negativity as if there is some generational league table and someone is keeping score and it is only natural that people talk of the future (the Millennials & GenZ) or of the past (Baby Boomers) but isn’t it time we looked to the present? As Einstein once said “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Every generation has something to bring to the table and whilst GenX might not seek the limelight, isn’t it time we took our rightful place at the table?

Have we found our place in our world? Maybe not but are we any different in this regard to any other generation? Whatever our epitaph will be, it hasn’t been written just yet and we are making up lost ground. We still have time enough to fulfil our personal and professional goals and continue to strive to fulfil our potential. True we are book ended by two much larger generations and there are fewer of us but maybe the lack of communal identity we have experienced can also be attributed to the lack of coverage? The media have always been fascinated by the Boomers and rarely a day goes by when the Millenials don’t feature in the news so what about GenX? Thankfully we are resilient enough to shrug off this inattention but despite our years many of us still want to learn and grow as individuals.

I’m doing my bit at GenX; hopefully others will follow suit and the media will start to give us our due. You never know, we might just surprise them!

For more information on generational marketing, visit MyGeneration

Social Media Goes Tribal

Less Noise, More Relevance
As the information age progresses apace our daily lives are deluged with content – updates, notifications, alerts. It is difficult to keep up and many of us are starting to cut back, to unsubscribe, unfollow and unfriend. People are becoming more interested in content, not the number of contacts and are looking for a less noisy, more useful online experience.

Our basic human need to communicate and relate to others in a meaningful way remains, as does our desire to learn and develop but the way we do this is changing.

Matthew Bryan Beck, a NYC-based journalist and advertising strategist wrote about the birth of ‘mobile-tribes’ and a move away from the major social networks to mobile villages. The increasing use of smartphones to access the web is undeniable though whether it is an app or online platforms, ‘social-tribes’ are banding together based on generational cohorts and shared interests and choosing with whom they wish to connect and share.

Knowledge Tools
In response, the big names are unbundling their mega platform offerings to allow people to create and be part of their own tribes. Delivering meaningful content to these groups in an effective way is also becoming a key focus. Mark Zuckerberg stated in an interview with Wired “…over a five-year period, people will start thinking about social networks not just as communication tools, but also knowledge tools”. The challenge for Facebook is how to make the knowledge that already exists discoverable and ultimately useful to people. Between 5 to 10 percent of posts on Facebook are about people asking questions of their friends. With over 500 posts a minute that is a lot of questions so there are clear opportunities to both the ‘big-boys’ and others to make targeted, generational specific information more readily available.

Rise of the Tribes
Current platforms will continue to develop and evolve whilst new niche platforms and apps offering targeted content based on this ‘digital tribalism’ will enter the market. Early predictions of the Internet were that it would make us all homogenous but the ‘Rise of the Tribes’ will actually create a more decentralised and personal user experience.

Tribes are not a new concept – far from it – but the Internet and social media is enabling us to create and be part of our own. Consumers are looking to the technologists and entrepreneurs to facilitate this movement. The way we connect, consume content and share on social media is changing and ‘Digital Tribalism’ is leading the way.

Are you unfollowing, unfriending or unsubscribing and looking for a more useful online experience? It would be great to hear your views on Digital Tribalism and connect on LinkedIn. Find me on Twitter and Instagram too.