Understanding Generation Y and their use of social media: a review and research agenda

Ruth N. Bolton (Based at the W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
A. Parasuraman (Based at the School of Business Administration, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA)
Ankie Hoefnagels (Based at the Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Nanne Migchels (Based at the Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Sertan Kabadayi (Based at the Schools of Business, Fordham University, New York City, New York, USA)
Thorsten Gruber (Based at the School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Yuliya Komarova Loureiro (Based at the Schools of Business, Fordham University, New York City, New York, USA)
David Solnet (Based at the School of Tourism, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Publication date: 14 June 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review what we know – and don't know – about Generation Y's use of social media and to assess the implications for individuals, firms and society.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper distinguishes Generation Y from other cohorts in terms of systematic differences in values, preferences and behavior that are stable over time (as opposed to maturational or other differences). It describes their social media use and highlights evidence of intra‐generational variance arising from environmental factors (including economic, cultural, technological and political/legal factors) and individual factors. Individual factors include stable factors (including socio‐economic status, age and lifecycle stage) and dynamic, endogenous factors (including goals, emotions, and social norms).The paper discusses how Generation Y's use of social media influences individuals, firms and society. It develops managerial implications and a research agenda.

Findings

Prior research on the social media use of Generation Y raises more questions than it answers. It: focuses primarily on the USA and/or (at most) one other country, ignoring other regions with large and fast‐growing Generation Y populations where social‐media use and its determinants may differ significantly; tends to study students whose behaviors may change over their life cycle stages; relies on self‐reports by different age groups to infer Generation Y's social media use; and does not examine the drivers and outcomes of social‐media use. This paper's conceptual framework yields a detailed set of research questions.

Originality/value

This paper provides a conceptual framework for considering the antecedents and consequences of Generation Y's social media usage. It identifies unanswered questions about Generation Y's use of social media, as well as practical insights for managers.

Keywords

Citation

Bolton, R., Parasuraman, A., Hoefnagels, A., Migchels, N., Kabadayi, S., Gruber, T., Komarova Loureiro, Y. and Solnet, D. (2013), "Understanding Generation Y and their use of social media: a review and research agenda", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 245-267. https://doi.org/10.1108/09564231311326987

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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