Why does engaging Gen Y on the social web make sense?

Continuing where I left off with my Why Gen Y? post, let's talk about the case for engaging Gen Y on the social web. Again, the bold text is what I say in my talks. The text following is what I would say if I had a lot more time! I've taken a page from a friend of mine's book. Denise Wymore told me last year that she wasn't taken seriously until she added some charts to her presentations. You want charts? I'll give you charts!

Why utilize the social web to attract Gen Y? Because that’s where Gen Y lives! Gen Y's use of social media eclipses all other generations.

Last June, I co-presented at the Forrester Financial Forum in New York with Catherine Graeber, a Vice President from Forrester Research. Catherine spent the first 15 minutes laying the groundwork with some great data-filled slides. You can find the entire presentation here. As you can see from this slide, members of Gen Y are way more involved on the social web than all other generations.

This gap goes a long way to explaining why credit unions are slow to get involved with social media marketing. Only 10% of Baby Boomers are involved in social networking, only 9% are reading blogs and only 4% are commenting on blogs. Since the decision-makers at most credit unions are Baby Boomers and have very little understanding or interest in what's going on within this newfangled social web, it makes total sense that they are apprehensive about getting involved.

Social networking usage is only going to increase. According to Netpop Research, 105 million Americans use social media sites.

There has been a 93% increase in social networking usage since 2006. Consumers are using these sites to comment—sometimes positively and frequently negatively—about brand experiences, products and services!

Facebook and MySpace both have more than 200 million registered users worldwide. There are many other sites with significant users including YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Blogger, Wordpress and Ning to name a few. Socializing has eclipsed e-mail as the number one use of the Internet. In fact, of the top 10 most popular websites ranked by Alexa, seven of them are based on social interaction and user-generated content. There is no signs that this trend is going to slow down.

A study by Pew reveals that 75% of the 18- to 24-year-old age group have a profile within a social network. Adult Internet users participation in social networks has quadrupled in just 4 years.

This slide again proves the disparity between generations. If three quarters of the 18- to 24-year-old crowd have a profile within a social network, it is an undeniable fact that this is not a flash-in-the-pan trend. If your credit union is serious about connecting with members of Gen Y, then it makes sense to meet them on their own turf. In fact, as more and more banks and credit unions build a presence within these environments, your credit union is at a huge disadvantage if you choose to ignore this opportunity. Social media is no longer an experimental medium and needs to be taken very seriously.

There's another three slides explained! As you can see, Gen Y is all over the social web and if you are seriously considering connecting with the next generation of credit union members, you need to figure out how to get your credit union involved.


Josh Sutherland is the 2009 Young & Free Spokesperson!

Why Gen Y? A slightly scary introduction for credit unions