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Generation Y

Rockstars@Work: Twitter Takes The Stage

“I am eating a banana.” “Just got off the phone with mom!” “I’m ironing my clothes.” “Making some coffee.” Sound familiar? Sounds like Twitter! That is, it sounds like my impression of the infinite drudgeries of Twitter before I attended the breakout session held byLocaltweeps at the Rock Stars@ Work Conference.

“I am eating a banana.” “Just got off the phone with mom!” “I’m ironing my clothes.” “Making some coffee.”

Sound familiar? Sounds like Twitter! That is, it sounds like my impression of the infinite drudgeries of Twitter before I attended the breakout session held byLocaltweeps at the Rock Stars@ Work Conference.

Localtweeps is a new business based out of the Twin Cities that helps localize Twitter by connecting people in the same geographic area. They also offer consultations for companies on how to use Twitter to promote business.

To promote business?! I thought Twitter was a 140 character micro-blogging machine used to shout out banal phrases about your day. As it turns out, Twitter can be used to garner business and engage your customers.

Don’t believe it? Punch Pizza used Twitter to promote a location that was chronically slow. As a result they had a 400% increase in business at that location.

The guys at Localtweeps listed several ways Twitter can enhance your business: managing your brand, establishing yourself as an expert, connecting with current customers (customer service), finding and engaging new customers and job prospects, and promoting specials and events in real time.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should spam people to get the word out. That is a turnoff for anybody. Keep it authentic, make it personal, and word will spread.

Let’s take a brief look at each of these five functions:

Managing your brandPeople are tweeting your business, and it’s important to engage them, said the Localtweeps folks. You can’t control what they say, but you can control the image you portray. Is there an aspect of your company that most people don’t know about? For instance, are you dedicated to social justice? Twitter’s viral nature makes it a great (free!) tool for getting the word out.

Establishing yourself as an expertIntelligent discussions do happen on Twitter. Participating in them is one way to show your expertise(and build your list of followers). What would you do to establish your expertise in the real world? Can you condense that to 140 characters?

Connecting with current customersI think this is one of the best uses of Twitter. As a consumer, I really value customer feedback because it tells me the honest truth about a product. Twitter is a forum where you the business owners can interact with customer feedback and turn it into customer service, or even positive publicity. You can see what people are saying about you, respond to questions in real time and follow up on complaints. Maybe there is a simple solution to someone’s complaint that can turn a potentially damaging comment into positive buzz. Or perhaps there is something wrong with your product that you didn’t know about, but now you can fix.

Finding and engaging new customers and job prospectsHere are some tips from Local Tweeps on how to do that. You want to have a nearly one-to-one ratio of followers to following, because if you are following 1,000 people and only 3 are following you, it looks like spam. To avoid that and build your followers, follow 10 people for three days. If they don’t follow you, un-follow them and follow others. (try saying that 10 times fast!) Find these people using competitors, trade associations and keywords. And make sure you are putting out authentic tweets the whole time!

Promoting specials and events in real timeThis one is self-evident. However, I would have to say that it’s one of the best ways to get people to follow you. If they are receiving deals, they are more likely to patronize your business and spread the word.

I hope these words of wisdom from the experts help! Don’t be discouraged if your venture into the uncharted Twitter-land doesn’t thrive immediately. Wouldn’t you rather gain 5 loyal customers rather than 1,000 unengaged followers?

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

Melissa Hackenmueller

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