Harnessing the Power of Gen Y—Without a Leash

In this post, Jennifer Garrett senior editor for Collinson Media, which publishes Rejuvenate, Connect and Collaborate magazines, explains how tapping into the power of Gen Y can yield gold-medal results.

I’m part of a generation that’s revolutionizing communication but might have trouble looking you in the eye. We are willing to tell you every detail of our day (online), but if you ask why we are late, we consider it a breach of privacy. We’re willing to work, but we also want time to change the world.

For the first time in American history, four generations are working together simultaneously, and the differences between each might be as stark as ever. While the largest demographic on Facebook is people ages 35-54, it’s still Generation Y that knows how to leverage the network best—and already has moved on to the next realm of social media. The younger members of your staff may know even more than they are letting on. Use them, but better yet, learn from them.

We do more than post status updates. Yes, we know how to Tweet your latest article for you, but we also know how to create a community on Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook. We can make you rethink a feature article in your print magazine to do the same thing.

We multitask like pros. Wonder how the 24-year-old next to you just found out that Lindsay Lohan is back in jail while updating five social media accounts at once? It’s called Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or another social media dashboard that we know how to use to help you do your job faster. And we want to show you how it works.

We don’t fit in your box. While many members of Generation Y like to come in late, leave early and check their Facebook news feeds hourly, plenty of others strive to find new ways to be more productive (note the desire for flexible hours, workplaces and creative outlets). Companies are taking note. This week my company allowed us to begin wearing jeans every day for the first time in its 37-year history, a change that has made everyone more comfortable.

It’s one thing for B2B companies to take advantage of social media-savvy staff members or be flexible when it comes to workplace desires, but it’s another to allow their input to make a difference in your publication. In the June 2009 issue of Rejuvenate magazine, the younger members of our staff took over a youth-focused package, transforming the look of the entire issue. As described in a previous ASBPE blog, it resulted in a Gold Azbee Award for special section, great reader feedback, and a whole new look and tone for the magazine going forward.

It turns out, age really is just a number. Beyond stereotypes, know your colleagues. You might be surprised to find out what they know how to do—and want to teach you.

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