co Generation X, Y… and now V? |

Just when you thought you had a handle on Generations X (people born between 1965 and 1980) and Y (people born between approximately 1980 to 1994), Gartner comes along with a new “Generation” that actually makes a lot more sense to me than X or Y ever did … Generation V, for Generation Virtual.

According to Gartner Research, Generation Virtual doesn’t apply to a particular age group like Gen X and Y do. Rather, Gen V:

“is based on demonstrated achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights. Generation V is the recognition that general behavior, attitudes and interests are starting to blend together in an online environment.”

Gartner defines what they call “four levels of engagement within Generation V, addressing both the extent to which customers will engage with other customers, as well as the level of engagement needed from businesses to enable the community. The four levels of engagement include: creators, contributors, opportunists, and lurkers.”

Since I’ve never felt happy with the label of “Generation X” (I’m right in between being a “Boomer” and a “Gen X’er”), I’m happy that there is now a Generation I fit perfectly within – Generation V. Reviewing the 4 levels of engagement above, I tend to flow between them, depending upon the topic, and I suspect many people are like me and do the same.

Gartner’s numbers demonstrate that only 3% are “creators” – I think this number is low, based on what I know from working with business owners every day, but I don’t have scientific research to prove my point. One thing I do know for certain is that as technology becomes increasingly easy to use, making “creation” easier and easier, this number will grow exponentially over the next few years.

Which category do you fall into? And how will you ensure your business is ready to serve all four levels of engagement of Generation V on the new (and developing) Social Web?

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