At AIM, our research has always supported the idea that information sharing and feedback are critical “facts of life” for Millennials. We find that social networking is just part of an overall lifestyle network for the sharing of all kinds of information among friends, relatives and co-workers. Here is a very interesting point of view about Millennials and social networking from Donald Castle, an information technology executive who has been working with social networking among all age cohorts:
Baby Boomers tend to think about Social Networking as doing Facebook, Twitter, etc. But I have a new hypothesis that Facebook and Twitter are symptoms of Social Networking, and not what it is really all about. The hypothesis is that the Millennial Generation thinks about Social Networking in terms of information, lots and lots of information: information about how to do things, and information about the quality of potential purchases. Facebook and Twitter are just information tools.
Millennials use information (notice I say information, and not just data), to decide which model of something to buy, or which restaurant to try. They are most interested in what their friends have to say, because this is the most credible information and because they feel their friends have similar tastes.
After reading information provided by their friends, they will look at how something is rated, or “liked,” by the general population, and they will read a few reviews.
Interestingly, Millennials are very suspicious of a product or service that has no negative reviews, and they feel it is not transparent and probably faked. Millennials are very sophisticated in thinking that no product and service is perfect, so they expect some critical reviews, or they won’t purchase. It’s important to be transparent and communicate all the information.
Since they get so much value out of the information, Millennils are willing to contribute information back for others to use.
So rather than thinking of Social Networking as the tools, as “doing” Facebook and Twitter, we Baby Boomers think of Social Networking as information. We should try to use the information out there, and try contributing information back.
(Donald Castle is currently working with Dorsata, a healthcare technology startup, and formerly headed information technology for SGS North America, Johnson and Johnson Medical Devices and Nabisco International.)