Each generation throughout history is a change generation. Nothing new there, and yet, what is coming next is big.
The combination of socio-digitech evolutions and socio-economic shifts today is creating a "change generation" like nothing before. Are schools and colleges prepared to educate for future change? Enter the media-empowered native...the young one who is going to teach us (and themselves) a thing or two about designing their lives.
- An aging downward in market influence as young digi-natives find the best of the best how-to info, the best deals, and best products aligned with their beliefs online for their families.
- A shift toward complex social overlays with popup engagements becoming more fluid, infiltrating all aspects of their lives. Youth are only into what they are into, creating a self-feeding, continually shifting society so to speak, and a morphic field influencing outward.
How do businesses on the outside engage with an influence "coming from within"?
The saving grace is youth are sharers, engagers, and co-creators. They are looking to be fed from the outside, and they are looking to remix the info, amplify it, curate it, aggregate it, and spit it back at you so in turn you can do the same. This creates a living, breathing, amplified conversation, if the topic is relevant to them, that is.
Most important with today's youth:
- Be a continual listener This is our road to relevancy and helps us provide engaged conversations that are fresh, chewy, inspiring.
- Give them credit for having quite a lot of media savvy and empowerment at a very young age. Recognize it, relish it, and give them opportunities to do more of the same.
- Bring them something they can’t create on their own, and they’ll be grateful. Show living examples of young people's success so they have models to mimic and follow. Weave in something they have not thought of.
- Give them a true platform to speak from and share from. Free-range experiences that allow youth to stretch their skill-set muscles can be all important to this up and coming generation.
- Be forthright. Things are changing rapidly; the landscape can be scary for us, let alone young people. Let’s give them the information they need to find empowerment and their own way forward. Not so much a talk down but a talk up approach. They have much to teach us going forward.
- Youth today want a certain amount of guidance from an enlightened perspective. Part of that enlightened content comes from new types of media storytelling that align with their interests their potential futures.
A new storytelling focus for youth today:
- Extreme "nowism," or being present with current issues that are trending in the world and respective online worlds.
- Immersive, creative, fantastical entertainment with aspects of realism providing safe ways for youth to discuss life issues obliquely with friends and family members.
- Reinvention stories, showing how people are doing things differently whether it’s boy or girl engagement. For girls, this might mean showing how mothers are reinventing themselves. Girls are seeing it firsthand and are in turn reinventing with an open field. Girls seek new playgrounds to explore new identities; and while media can be behind the times with this they have the opportunity to rise to the occasion fully and can be rewarded with loyalty. Younger people want to contribute in meaningful ways; there is a growing world of young changemakers out there making a difference. Brands are now partnering with youth in notable ways from the multiple projects between MTV/VH1 and DoSomething.org to Lady Gaga (as a brand) mentoring the young founder of the anti-bullying project WeStopHate.org.
We need to encourage TV and other media channels in these directions. We believe this will enliven media overall and help build lasting loyalty relationship with youth going forward—something they will not forget.
This post was based on a conversation with Denise Restauri, a youth expert and Founder & CEO of AllyKatzz.com and TheAllyNetwork, the media and meaning platforms that amplify the voices of girls and women.
Author Jody Turner is a future trends strategist who works with companies, conferences, organizations and associates such as Denise in bringing forth thriving and relevant futures. Turner is CEO and founder of the global insights group CultureofFuture.com, a trend innovation group working with companies such as Trendwatching.com London to BMW of Munich.
[Image: Flickr user Brandon Christopher Warren]