Gen “C”

April 26, 2010
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201004261127.jpg For some time now I’ve been thinking about the whole generational categorization scheme that always gets a lot of coverage. The idea that certain age groups have some common traits has been around for a long time I guess. We have Boomers, Gen X, Y, Z, Millennials, etc. Now I suppose there are commonalities that are shared because of the external factors that exist during the time when someone grows up, but I’m starting to think that age may not be as important in the emerging connected world that we inhabit. I hear often enough that web 2.0, social networking, social (fill in the blank) is for the “kids”. It most often comes from a business person that is trying to deny that business is being impacted by the social web, a defense mechanism of sorts. We get it in comments on our surveys and in person but it does seem to happen less and less.

More and more I see commonality between people who are very active on the social web and who tend to be fast adopters of technology. While my daughters are certainly digital natives (ages 14 and 11) they are no more involved in the social web or with technology in general than I or many of my friends are. I’m starting to believe that

201004261127.jpg For some time now I’ve been thinking about the whole generational categorization scheme that always gets a lot of coverage. The idea that certain age groups have some common traits has been around for a long time I guess. We have Boomers, Gen X, Y, Z, Millennials, etc. Now I suppose there are commonalities that are shared because of the external factors that exist during the time when someone grows up, but I’m starting to think that age may not be as important in the emerging connected world that we inhabit. I hear often enough that web 2.0, social networking, social (fill in the blank) is for the “kids”. It most often comes from a business person that is trying to deny that business is being impacted by the social web, a defense mechanism of sorts. We get it in comments on our surveys and in person but it does seem to happen less and less.

More and more I see commonality between people who are very active on the social web and who tend to be fast adopters of technology. While my daughters are certainly digital natives (ages 14 and 11) they are no more involved in the social web or with technology in general than I or many of my friends are. I’m starting to believe that there’s a cross generational trend that is creating new common traits that are shared across a broad group. At first I was calling this Gen “S” for social but I’ve noticed lately others talking about the same idea and applying the label of Gen “C”. As I thought about this more I think that in fact the key to this new “generation” is its hyper-connected lifestyle. Certainly the social web is playing into this trend and helps create the common traits but its really the interconnected nature of the members that is causing the cross-generational nature of the movement. Here are a few recent facebook demographics that demonstrate this (from istrategylabs.com):


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and for Twitter:


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So what are the common traits for Gen “C”? Here are a few things I’m observing:

  • Hyper-connected, always on
  • Mobile
  • Content creators, a strong desire to create
  • A desire for more control over their work, life, etc. (less comfortable with rigid structure and hierarchy)
  • Comfortable with more complex structures, environments, technologies, etc. (multitasking is normal)
  • Willing to join in conversation both online and offline. Gravitate to social sites that offer the opportunity to converse. (social)
  • Comfort with higher level of personal openness and transparency
  • Blurring of personal and business life and boundaries
  • Desire to form active communities
  • Digitally inclined

This “generation” is the social customer and the social employee. They have a voice and are not afraid to use it. They understand the shifting of influence and the changing power that their voice gives them.

So what do you think, are you a part of the new “generation C”?