Something interesting has been happening since Social Media became a force to be reckoned with, it’s power and use has been grossly misunderstood. The big mistake most corporations and big businesses make, they try to understand communities rather than the users (generations) that build and make up these communities.
To understand a community is actually quite simple, if you spend enough time in any community you will discover a personality and a few trends. But that doesn’t mean you understand the people in that community, people influence people, and communities can influence other communities, but the characteristics vary. What these communities and people (generations) tolerate today, most likely won’t fly the next year or for that matter the next day. Another interesting characteristic about these generations, they group and regroup on the fly.
The Gen C and generations to come, group and regroup for the purposes of grouping and regrouping for a new purpose, they will no longer staying together for long periods of time. Making it virtually impossible to derive quantifiable data that can be used for marketing and or to merely understand any community. They social and very mobile.
Gen C are the under twenty somethings with very little patience for old industrial age thinking, or for that matter, systems developed by those old thinkers. They want a more Natural User Interface (NUI), they want their content to be relevant, useful and interesting. They move in packs, very tribal in behaviour, which means you need to be able to adapt to there moods swings. Gen C are at best chameleons, constantly changing and morphing their identities to simultaneously belong to as many tribes as possible.
Communities will come and go, but those jumping from community to community will be harder to attract unless certain criteria are in place. Connect Gen C members with each other, not just with a brand. Enable Gen C to participate in, play with or produce themselves and then share. Ask for a reaction and have a fun social interface. Enhance social status within tribes, and as I mentioned earlier, Keep it relevant, useful and entertaining.
Remember, pay-walls are not inviting, these generations will keep looking until they find what they want for free. Yes, those with money will pay upfront for some things, mostly just to save time, but the majority of the global population will spend the time to find what they want for free. The Future of Business will be an Open & Free Business Model, where FREE is the business model.
The businesses of the future should pay attention to the user not the communities, they don’t spend enough time in communities to provide enough reliable data. Whether you agree or disagree really doesn’t matter, the future generations will move in packs whether I say they will or not, they’ll group and regroup to meet their needs. Pay attention to what they get behind, not where they hang out.
If you’re in business today, don’t assume communities is where the valuable data is located, it’s in the users, the Gen C and beyond. The communities are a way to determine where they are at the time, that’s it, and it may not have anything to do with what the purpose or cause happens to be at the time.