Communicating with Generation Y: How to Win and Keep Them
Recently, I asked a number of my fellow graduate students whether they read an email from the Office of the President of the University of Nevada , Reno (UNR); talking about siwne flu prevention and preparedness. The answer was a unanimous – NO.
I also asked a number of under graduate students (with whom I take a writing class) whether they ‘d read President ‘s swine flu safety email message. Their response once more was almost unanimously No.
As you can guess, I was troubled. Troubled, because not withstanding the good efforts of the President ‘s Office to inform and sensitize students about the best ways to prevent swine flu, that good effort, was not reaching the target audience. In other words, the changes in behavior expected had not chance of improving safety on campus.
Based on the feedback from both group of students, I felt strongly that this situation may not be unique to the University of Nevada, Reno. This is certainly, part of a bigger national problem which is essentially a generational crisis in communication. It needs our attention, else, the problem will fester.
Apparently, most of the decision-makers of today are baby boomers and Generation X folks. These people grew up at a time when information was consumed in what I like to refer to as Text-Based Consumption (TBC). Unfortunately, the world has evolved drastically with the arrival of Generation Y (Gen Y) in the workplace and in most institutions of higher learning. This generation predominantly prefer Graphics-Based Consumption (GBC) of information, as opposed to TBC.
As the campuses go, so goes our world. Thus, if authorities on college campuses, corporations want to win and keep the attention of Gen Y students and employees, they must reach to them using alternative strategies. Based on our observation and research, we hereby offer a “KEEP ” em approach that engages through alternative ways, as outlined below:
Approach # 1- Keep it short and simple:
Messages, emails and memos directed at Generation Y students or employes ideally, must be short and simple to get their attention. Due to information overload these days, students’ span of attention (personal bandwidth) is getting increasingly limited. Such information also requires a “cool effect” ie catchy, trendy and hip.
Approach # 2-Engage with Current Currency:
The best way to engage today ‘s students who are generally Gen. Y is to fine tune messages is through interactivity. In order to make it more relevant, to drum up support, campaigns, events, contests and cool gifts like Starbucks gift cards, gaming passes or other cool give-away.
Approach # 3- Edutainment:
Gone are the days of long, boring old school messages. To stay relevant with Gen Y, authorities must attempt to deliver serious content (information) with comic flavor. Messages that have such “vanila flavors” and “blends” tend to resonate well with younger audiences. Thus, message calibration is as important as the message itself.
Approach # 4- Placement:
In today ‘s world with multiple channels of communication, social networks and social media provide an incredible opportunity to reach out to many with the same message via channels like youtube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and so on. These channels can complement existing emails channels and yet offer a stupendous possibilities for message replication and diffusion by word of mouth.