who is GEN.edu?

GEN.edu is a niche sub-group of GEN-Y. The term ‘GEN.edu’ stems from the fact that these individuals were in college during 2005, when facebook was created and only those with an approved collegiate ‘.edu’ email address were allowed to register and take part in the user experience. GEN.edu plays a role in making digital targeted-marketing decisions.

Typically early adapters, GEN.edu is comprised of early users of AOL instant messenger, chat rooms, and were some of the first to fully-adopt these styles of communication from a young age. Many members of GEN.edu use social-sites and chat as their primary mediums of communication.

why does this matter?

As the world population becomes more digital, people become more active in networks, and networks become more interconnected with other networks, then populations will be ‘forced’ to use social-networks more often – the more they use, the more their concept of ‘netiquette’ will develop.

As a marketer and/or strategist, you’re trying to better understand the layout of the social-web, the users, and how your brand fits into the users’ behaviors. A users’ concept of netiquette will affect the way they act/behave online. As a user’s sense of netiquette develops, the user will become more aware of who will see their social actions and how their actions will be perceived. These factors will impact your advertising-strategies and monetization-plans.

Some questions arise: Who will lead the way in online behavior? Which demographic will be the demographic-to-watch for future behavioral-trends? What is the cycle of online-behavior? Do they follow one pattern?

here’s where GEN.edu fits in

GEN.edu and social media (specifically Facebook) have essentially grown-up together. Given the timeline of events in this graphic, it’s fair to say that members of GEN.edu have first-hand experience with the negative effects of a growing social network, and therefore have a slightly more developed sense of netiquette. Don’t get me wrong, more developed does not mean more important.

What’s so different about the time, when facebook started?

This was a time, when privacy preferences weren’t normal/needed and encountering a private-profile invoked a response similar to_ ‘who do you think you are?!’._ When facebook didn’t advertise anything on the site; before newsfeed existed (that day was aweful!). Before moms, dads, aunts, and uncles were using facebook. Before employers were looking at digital foot-prints.

facebook is the social-network that GEN.edu (and others) protects very carefully. GEN.edu has a lot of content on there; a lot of content from our undergrad years, a time when we didn’t think facebook would ever become what it is today. We have some social-beverage photos on there (innocent photos, but not quite for the public). GEN.edu has made comments all over walls and in groups and created groups with names that were never meant to be seen by anyone but our close friends… many of these things we privatized or removed after facebook became more public and open.

Did you know that facebook stores every message you have ever sent? Unlike Google, they don’t throw it away. GEN.edu used facebook messages instead of email for all types of communication. We had ‘.edu’ email addresses and didn’t want our universities to see all of our communication and nobody thought facebook would ever be more than silly computer program. Why would facebook want to read messages between me and my close friends? What can facebook gain from data-mining my messages? The mention of a brand, a product, an event, anything that will help facebook to better understand who the user is and what interests that user, so facebook can target ads. Cheap move facebook. I thought we had a only me and my friends deal.

Beyond facebook. ‘thank you, I’m tired of hearing about facebook’

In an effort to expand on this concept, I’ll be ranting about behavioral trends on linkedin, twitter, delicious bookmarks, blogs (wordpress, tumblr, blogger, etc.), and even aol(RIP) and a concept I like to call ‘pushy netiquette’ (the social push of content and the over-push of content: newsfeed spam.

Some questions to explore:

  • How have the networks changed? Have they changed for the better? Why? why not? Better for whom?
  • How have the ‘innovations’ and ‘mass-adoption’ changed the way that use our various networks?
  • How do GEN.edu’s views and use of networks contrast other-users from different demographics?
  • Will GEN.edu eventually behave more like another group of users? Is there a cycle to way we use these networks? Who started this cycle? How will different GENs move through the cycle?
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