By Marian Salzman, Tuesday, April 19, 2011, at 10:15 am.
Originally posted on Euro RSCG Worldwide’s Prosumer Report microsite.
In recent months, Euro RSCG has commented on how the revolution is not just being televised, but tweeted about, updated on Facebook, and uploaded to YouTube. In our trends preview for 2011, I touched on the new face of anger and how most of us are mad at something or other, and venting on all forms of social media.
Now we’re watching as social platforms help to unleash and propel revolution all over the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa. The events in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and elsewhere are the best examples of the power of social media to effect change. And the faces we’re seeing are decidedly young. If you fall into the boomer demographic, you may wonder where all these young people have been all this time. In the sixties, boomers had Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Gloria Steinem, Stokely Carmichael, and so many other household names calling for revolution and change. This new generation of youth is lacking in headline leaders, but we are beginning to discover that they have a voice every bit as powerful. That voice is social media, and it’s being used as a platform for transferring power to the people.
In the United States, look no further than the Obama campaign, powered by an amazingly astute social media strategy. It’s no coincidence that the “Yes We Can” generation had a huge part in electing Mr. Obama. MSNBC calculated that between 22 and 24 million young people voted in the most recent presidential election and said their vote was key to electing the nation’s first African-American president. According to information on the NDN website, millennials preferred Barack Obama over John McCain by a margin of 66 percent to 32 percent. In 2012, when Obama is up for reelection, millennials will account for about a quarter (24 percent) of those eligible to vote, up from 17 percent in 2008. And that position of electoral power will grow greater still: By 2020, when the youngest millennials reach voting age, the generation will comprise more than a third (36 percent) of U.S. adults. As one of the youngest presidents ever to hold office, it’s no surprise that Obama chose to center his social media campaign on the concerns of youth, now and next.
Millennials may press for change more quietly than the boomers did half a century ago, but they are no less passionate. As we note in “Millennials: The Challenger Generation” (and covered in greater detail in “Millennials and Social Media”), this new generation is the first to grow up in the post–Cold War era. Their reference points have less to do with ideological disputes than with unexpected and cataclysmic events—from 9/11 and other acts of terrorism to Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, and now the latest multifront tragedy in Japan. They are growing up in an age of acute unpredictability, so they value adaptation over planning; much like technology and social media itself, they know there is no reliable way to predict the future in any kind of long-term model. Instead, they come together—on Facebook, Twitter, and other mediums—and work through the experiences with friends and strangers online, gathering information and, for many, finding ways to help.
When we asked millennials in our latest research study what they consider the greatest obstacle their generation faces in their quest for global change, “lack of generational unity”—cited by 30 percent—was the most popular answer. The burgeoning sociopolitical activism we’re seeing in the social media space—and, subsequently in the “real world”—has convinced me that this generation is solidifying as a force for change and will have an impact every bit as great as that brought about by their boomer parents and grandparents.
Photo credit: creative commons/ by Giovanni Gallucci
This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 10:15 am. It is filed under Features, Politics, Social Media, Technology, Trends and tagged with anger, change, Egypt, Euro RSCG Worldwide, Facebook, Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, Japan, John McCain, Libya, millennials, MSNBC, Obama, revolution, Social Media, social platforms, sociopolitical activism, Technology, Trends, Tunisia, Yes We Can, young people, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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