Why It’s Just So Difficult When You’re Not Gen Z


Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about age categories frenzied over by marketing types (promise), this IS a post about a recent workshop I delivered and the challenge expressed by those who are ‘new’ to moving things to a more digitally friendly place.

I know for many it might seem INCOMPREHENSIBLE that everything isn’t automatically digital already, but in the real world there are still many networks and engagements that happen ‘face to face’ and have not really ventured into what digital, and specifically here I’m talking social media, could offer.

Oh, but it sounds such a great promise – we all admit that it did – and years on there has still been challenges about what the actual ROI is like from a good social presence and consumers (read my post on viewability and transparency for digital advertising here). But if you’ve not really explored social media for your own profile – how alien does it become to then include it as a tool for something you’ve always done in the ‘real world’?

What you see a lot of are accounts that post the exact same update across them, at times which suit the owner, always asking for stuff. They stick out because they look incongruous with what you’d expect from that particular platform, won’t have the right tone, or lack appropriate levels of light and shade – which is where the ask/give balance comes into things.

Because, unlike Generation Z, a large proportion of society hasn’t grown up with social media being part of daily life, the decision to ‘go on social’ is a big step; you’re more risk averse, you haven’t consumed news and content on it before – essentially you feel out of water.

Are we at a point where anyone who doesn’t fully embrace social now could miss out in a Black Mirror-style exclusion from society in future? I hope not, but there are worrying indicators we could be. The Chinese Government are already ‘rating people’ according to their We Chat accounts and in London there is an exclusive club which only allows you in if you have a certain number of followers – the YouTube base by Euston station equally only allows certain ‘influencers’ in based on their following, and the courses they offer are also tiered by how big a deal you are. This is, in effect, a value exchange of social influence.

When it comes to banking,  Facebook Messenger are perhaps about to shake things up at a speed far greater than the traditional banks. In 2018 you’ll be able to split bills through your messenger app and broadly speaking e-commerce will be central to all social platforms allowing you to shop, pay and sell far easier (as if it were tough) that we do now.

Is this a race against time and how can relative newcomers to social now transition smoothly or duck out of the race completely? For some, even the concept of social media is still odd. One person I spoke with last week couldn’t get over how narcissistic it is to let everyone know where you are and what you’re doing for others to validate you by… actually, that chat stayed with me a while. How do we justify some of the time spent in daily life on social media – what’s the purpose?

For marketing and communications teams, we know it’s about engagement and creating an emotional link with consumers. Providing them with content and for 99% of the time you’ll be doing this so when in that 1% you ask, they’ll respond well. But are we also catering for those who aren’t engaged on social at all – those within organisation with which we work, end consumers, friends and family? As things rapidly proceed and Elon Musk creates not just an Uber flying car but also capability of inserting chips within people’s brains, we might just want to ensure we have all audiences considered.

Alexa, can you sort that for us?




Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash