Smart marketers understand that Gen Y workers can provide value to companies by leveraging their social networks. They can also protect the corporate brand and help employers recruit top talent fairly easily because they're constantly connected. Many Gen Y members have even labeled themselves as "social media experts" because they are tech savvy and are using web 2.0 tools outside of the workplace to communicate with peers. Marketers are realizing that they need dedicated resources for their own social media programs.
Aside from recruiting Gen Y, companies are looking at their current workers and asking some of them to start exploring this new territory. I, for one, was recruited internally from a product marketer role into a social media specialist role at EMC Corporation. As the shift in communication turns from advertising and traditional marketing to new media marketing, it's critical to engage Gen Y and ask for marketing support. In today's digital world, the more connected you are, the more successful you can be.
Most companies aren't paying for blog monitoring services such as Buzzlogic or Radion6 and many aren't even using free services, such as Google Alerts. Keeping track of brand mentions, whether it's your CEO, your product or your company, is required. Word-of-mouth marketing online moves very fast and what starts off as a mere tweet can spawn a blog post and then a YouTube video and then become the front page story in the New York Times.
You should engage Millennials, who are already paying attention to conversations that are happening online, and ask them to monitor and report on brand mentions. "Gen Y folks are more familiar with the online tools that allow you to listen well and can leverage that familiarity to prove themselves critically useful to their companies," says Jason Falls, an executive with Doe-Anderson and author of SocialMediaExplorer.com.
Marketing for free
Marketing budgets are on the decline, but companies still need to get their messages out to the marketplace. Traditional forms of advertising are clearly out of budget, but new media costs only your time. Gen Y members have been using social networks, such as Facebook, before they were even available to the masses, which means that their "friend" list is much greater than other generations.
Also, many have blogs that are related to their current industries or positions at their companies. Their blogs help position them as thought leaders and community activists, and as they build out their subscribe lists, they have more people to market to.
A blog is one of the best ways to build a brand for yourself -- whether it's for your ideas or products," explains Ramit Sethi, the New York Times-bestselling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Marketers should engage Gen Y when they need to push out a message to stakeholders by asking them nicely and simplifying the message so it's consumable by that audience.
Companies are hiring right now, but they not for advertising positions. Instead, they are using the power of referrals to track down the best talent out there. Marketers can take advantage of the interconnectedness of Gen Y members when they are looking to hire talented people because they already surround themselves with them.
One request can turn into three potential hires within an hour because of the speed at which Gen Y communicates with its peers. Whether it's a text message, a tweet or a Facebook post, you can get the best talent without having a marketing budget.