Connecting With Gen Y Through Social Currency

While cash, debit, or credit have been used for decades to signify a retail transaction, social commerce calls for a different kind of currency. And social currency is the language of Gen Y.

  • Erin Middleton just checked-in to Macy’s.
  • Erin Middleton just bought an awesome new coat from @AnnTaylor
  • Erin Middleton wants to share this Groupon for The Gap with you.

These are just a few examples of activities that Gen-Yers frequently share with each other via Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla, Groupon, Foursquare, etc. And while this may be “oversharing” to past generations, to Gen Y, they are simple and instinctive behaviors that help them connect with the communities they desire to be a part of.

Retailers looking to reach Gen Y not only need to understand social behaviors and speak in social currency, but also need to be ready to put themselves on the backburner and recognize their advocates. Recognition goes a long way with Gen Y. And for this generation, successful social media is more about what a brand does than what it says or looks like.

Some simple things your brand could start doing today:

  • Reward people who check-in to your store’s location. Don’t worry about the platform (Gowalla, Foursquare, Facebook Places), just do it!
  • Get to know the people on your Facebook page – recognize an advocate by name if they come into your store. They’ve got Facebook pictures, don’t they?
  • Tweet a coupon to someone who shares your name in their Twitterfeed – public recognition will instantly put a smile on their face
  • Personally reach out to people who post pictures of your business to Flickr, Facebook, or Yelp – they’re advocating for you, so why not let them know you noticed?

Motivating Gen Y to purchase doesn’t require a lot of money nor does it necessarily require a lot of strategy; it just requires that brands become relevant. So rather than putting money into a national media buy or undertaking a complete store re-brand, dole out some recognition and rewards via your Facebook page or Twitterfeed. These small and simple activities can have a significant impact, relevant to traditional media tactics and the amount brands spend on them, in connecting and reaching Gen Y advocates and influencers.

Be brave, be social, and do brands, do.

-Submitted byErin Middleton, Dallas

Share Your Thoughts