Members of Generation Y or Gen Y are the new players in the workforce known for their tech savvy ways and social media know-how. My expectation is that employers value the Gen Y Facebook and Twitter expert who has a personal blog and can manage five social networks, while simultaneously downloading an app. These young workers, with fresh diplomas and agile fingers twitching for a smart phone, are confident in their abilities to meet employers’ social media needs. However does Generation Y really understand social media like they think they do?
As a participant in ICSC’s Summer Fellowship program and member of Gen Y, I considered myself well-educated and proficient in matters of social media. So when the Fellows had the opportunity to attend a “Social Media Boot Camp” organized by Sarah Malcolm, ICSC’s New Media Manager, I saw it as more of an opportunity for a free lunch than a substantive workshop. I use social media on a daily basis and when I do not know how to use a site or have a question, I “Google” it and am good to go. What could Sarah Malcolm possibly tell me that I did not already know? As it turns out, a lot.
Sarah is accustomed to giving presentations on social media to senior executives. In fact, this workshop was her first talk to college students and recent grads, and she voiced her concern that the remarks might be redundant to us. Her admission reinforced my ignorance-based confidence. But, my smug attitude soon faded when she started the presentation with a short quiz game. The first few questions were easy, but then Sarah asked “What is the fastest growing social media network?” Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Tumblr, and Google + came to mind, but the correct answer was…Pinterest! I, along with most of my fellow interns, had never even heard of it. How much could I possibly know about social media if I have never even heard of the fastest growing site? The jarring of confidence prompted my inner student and the furious note taking began.
I could not keep up with all the information being discussed. Sarah described the variations in current social media tools and new technologies poised to change the industry. We learned about innovative tools, including Google Goggles and Google Wallet that were news to me. I found myself taken aback by future trends in new media and the ways that some ICSC member companies are already taking advantage of social media tools and technology.
Being a member of Gen Y and a social media enthusiast, I am comfortable in the world of new media and its growing importance in the workplace. However, I have come to understand that Gen Y’s level of comfort with social media is not directly proportional to our level of expertise. One reason Sarah often makes social media presentations to senior executives is because younger people are not keen to hear about what they assume to already know; I was the prefect example of that.
To help all members of the association (young and old, alike) about new media, ICSC numerous education al opportunities to its members to learn about how social media is used in the business world. For instance, ICSC held numerous “jammed packed” sessions at 2012 RECon in their award-winning Social Media Pavilion. Later in the year, the group is taking a lead with the MOCIAL conference (September 6-7) in Orlando, to delve more deeply into all things social media. This conference is a great opportunity for all generations to become apart of the social media conversation and see first hand how businesses are using it. And since ICSC student members can attend the entire meeting for only $50, it might be just the perfect intensive seminar that people like me could use!
Christina Grafstein is currently participating in ICSC’s Summer Fellows program. She is a rising senior working towards a degree in Mass Communications at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.