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Generation Direct

What has the impact been on the generation of young people that grew up surrounded by social media and other digital technologies?

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | August 03, 2016 | Business

By Nupur Mallick, HR Director, TCS UK & Ireland

It’s been just over a decade since Facebook broke into the mainstream. Since then, social media has had a profound effect on every aspect of our lives. But what has the impact been on the generation of young people that grew up surrounded by, and immersed in, social media and other digital technologies?

At TCS, we wanted to examine the impact that growing up in a social media world has had on the generation of young people that will be shaping the future of business in the years to come. That’s why we conducted Europe’s largest ever youth research project, surveying more than 5,000 Europeans aged 18-29 from across 15 different countries to find out how they use social media in their work and personal lives and how this will affect businesses in the future. 

The report – Shattering the Myths: Social Media is Now Serious Business for Young Europeans ­– finds that social media has had a major impact on the generation of young Europeans that have grown up surrounded by digital technologies. By changing the way we share ideas, discover, learn and communicate, these young people have been empowered and influenced by social – creating a new breed of future employees across Europe.

This new group - we call Generation Direct. Characterised by their instinctive use of technology to circumvent traditional processes when learning, working, starting a business, or expressing themselves politically. Generation Direct are ambitious, creative and unimpressed by received wisdom, which will have far-reaching consequences for employers and businesses.

Rather than relying on traditional applications or recruitment agencies, almost half (45%) of young Europeans have used social media to find a job. Social media is also a critical tool for young business owners, who are using it to bypass traditional barriers to growth: 70% of young entrepreneurs use social media to attract potential investors and three in five (60%) use social media to find freelancing staff. 

At work, almost two thirds of young people use social media to connect with colleagues about work-related issues (62%), with 29% doing this at least once a day. Importantly, Generation Direct believes in using whichever social platform best allows them to achieve their goals, rather than tailoring communications to bespoke networks. Facebook is therefore surpassing LinkedIn as a tool for job hunting: 46% of young Europeans who use social media to find job opportunities do so on Facebook compared to just 28% on LinkedIn. Overall, 93% of young Europeans use Facebook, compared to just 36% who use LinkedIn. 

Generation Direct believes in using whichever social platform best allows them to achieve their goals, rather than tailoring communications to bespoke networks

On the whole, our research shows that young people have an instinctive understanding of how social media can boost their businesses and their careers. They know that if they want to start a business, they can have direct contact with their customers. If they want to change jobs, they can find opportunities and build their profile through social channels.

Businesses looking to tap into this generation’s entrepreneurial energy, or attract their spending power, must make sure they understand these behaviours and respond accordingly by taking the following steps:

·      Prioritise speed and agility – Generation Direct expect speed and agility and are impatient when confronted with process and bureaucracy, which they see as a barrier to achieving their goals. Failure to meet these expectations will mean losing revenue and market share to more agile, collaborative competitors.

·      Empower employees – Organisations should also review IT and security policies on social media usage and explore emerging opportunities to deploy tools that drive productivity. This will involve using professionally focused social media tools and, where practical, adapting consumer tools.

·      Embrace digital transformation – traditional industries and institutions must adapt to the power that digital gives consumers, as typified by Generation Direct. If you are a service provider that facilitates a process or market interaction, you must add discernible value or risk being leapfrogged by faster, more direct, digital alternatives. Generation Direct uses social media to access markets and collaborate directly and will bypass you if you’re seen to get in the way.

It is only when businesses start meeting the demand of these young people’s new and direct approach that they will begin to harness their entrepreneurial energy, attract their spending power and gain their loyalty.

For more information on the TCS research, please visit www.tcs.com/generationdirect 

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