Social Media and the Millennial Brain

SMS Text

Social Media has become a double edged sword.  It gives businesses easy access to their customers and aids in communicating with them, but at the same time it gives employees a forum to waste time and possibly to do harm to the brand.  A well thought out social media policy is a must for businesses large and small.

For any company, it is very tempting to opt for a social media free zone at work.  Keep employees off the time sucking sites and keep them focused on the task at hand, right?

If your company depends on a workforce consisting of employees under the age of 35, maybe not.

The amazing millennial brain is not wired the way boomer brains are.  These kids have grown up in a world of digital media and high speed internet.  Recent college grads never owned a tape player and think that vinyl records are vintage collector’s items. They learned to type on a computer and have never been aware of a world without email.  From a very early age they have been processing information at speeds that would melt the brains of their baby-boomer supervisors.

Sam Fiorella, CEO Sensei Marketing, recently shared an interesting anecdote.  To prove a point about communication styles, he ran a simple experiment with participants of seminar he was giving.  He asked all the boomers to sit on one side of the room and the millennials on the other.  Each group was told that they could use whatever they wished to take notes and keep track of the information he was sharing.  The boomers gravitated to pen and paper, while the millennials powered up laptops, iPads, and even their smart phones.  Fiorella told the crowd they were allowed to take notes, tweet, and share on Facebook so long as they were prepared to take a quiz on the material at the end of the session.  While he talked the boomers dutifully took notes and made a great deal of eye contact.  The millennials hardly looked up from their devices, giving Fiorella little indication that they were really paying any attention to what he had to say.  At the end of the session, he quizzed the group.  Believe it or not, the millennials retained and comprehended 20% MORE information than their attentive boomer counterparts.  Not only had they been paying attention, but they were sharing what they were learning in real time.

What most decision makers still view as a distraction, is a vital tool in the millennial worker’s arsenal.  Their brains are wired to take in lots of information in a very short amount of time and act on it quickly.  For these employees, YouTube is a place to go to find out how to do something right the first time.  Twitter is where you go to get expert advice.  Social Media has changed the way younger employees function.

Rather than restrict access to the stream of news and interaction that keeps these youthful employees inspired and informed, why not consider harnessing their natural tendencies?

Your most fervent brand advocates are sitting at the computers in your office right now, and they are ready and willing to share what a wonderful company they work for.  You will need to provide guidelines and some training on what to do and what not to do in the social space during work hours, but the return you get from investing a little time and effort into these employees is likely to be amplified like never before.

ADVERTISEMENT
Michelle Stinson Ross

Michelle Stinson Ross

Content & Outreach Goddess at AuthorityLabs
Michelle Stinson Ross is a digital marketing industry recognized authority on the outreach power of social media. She has worked as a community manager and... Read Full Bio
Michelle Stinson Ross
Michelle Stinson Ross
Download: Social Media Strategy
Where the rubber meets the road: A look at SEJ's own social media strategy.