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Are digital natives really key to social business success?

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Are digital natives really key to social business success?

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digital-native-defThe Millennial impact report published recently shows how active young people are on digital technology.  It shows that the digital natives live and breath digital.  85% of them own a smartphone, compared to 63% of the rest of the population.

More than 80% of them have a Facebook profile, whilst nearly 70% regularly visit blogs.  What's more, some 67% interact with charities on Facebook, whilst 70% have made an online donation.

“Millennials are the first generation that are purely about recommendations. They ‘crowd source’ everything. Even if they are walking down the street looking for a cup of coffee, they won’t go in somewhere if they see on a site that it has had a bad review,” the reports author says.

It's a narrative that's well known by now.  The thing is, you have to contrast that with the recent study by Kelloggs Business School academic Paul Leonardi.  He found that enterprise social network usage was highest amongst the older professionals.  Younger employees were not as comfortable with using the social tools they're so familiar with in their personal lives in a professional context.

“They would say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be posting things my boss would see.’ … On the other hand, the senior employees didn’t have that same concern. For them, the technology was another mode for communicating about work-related matters.” Leonardi said

Whilst it's undoubtably true that the Generation Y are far and away the most comfortable when it comes to social media, it would appear that some work is required to ensure that this generation of digital natives are as comfortable with these tools in the workplace as they are at home.


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