The picture is from Lerema (usual policy applies; I'll take it down if you wish)
Imagine you are a marketeer.
You know that your audience is creating more of those strange videos online; you know about MySpace, but that's all fine, because Rupert Murdoch has bought it out for a large amount of money, and is going to conventionally market to them.
If you are particularly savvy, you know that that isn't going to last. They'll move on, and virtual tumbleweeds will inhabit that space.
User generated content may get passe'; after all, as a lot of abandoned blogs prove, people can't keep on being creative and innovative. It's why most blogs are simply link-fests with few original thoughts (including this post, inspired by Adnostic's post on the subject).
So how do you tap into this new generation's revenue stream? Well, firstly, you can accept that the pace of change is coming faster and faster than ever. Trends are found out not only via social networking sites, but by a mixture of the generations that have gone before them. Converse, for example, may have been originally regarded as a Gen X'er brand, but it's coming back in a big way.
To make you realise just how this new generation is changing - they don't regard Michael Jordan as the face of Nike, or maybe even basketball. Oasis, to them, weren't the biggest band in the world, ever.
And this is a generation which is much larger than the 17mill X'ers that made up the last wave. If anything, this picture paints a grim one for those who rely on mass-market trends. Those who will succeed will be those who spark a mass trend, and, I believe, those who are niche brands to begin with.
I'm not saying 'down with Levi, Nike & Coke'. That just won't happen. However, those niche brands which may never have had the spotlight may find their '15 minutes of fame' more forthcoming in this new media landscape.
Yet, I think those brands which try and court Gen Y with freebies and help them make their own content do the other Generations a disservice; I just don't think (in that respect), Y is that much different than other Gens. Y, like X and all of those before them, like smart ads which don't treat them like mugs/acknowledge their message - this last point is perhaps the most important; being self-aware to this generation is the key.
So why all the fear over Y? Branding (to our fictional marketing manager) has become more of a tightrope - but it's also never been more exciting.
Respect your audience and their love for the next cool thing, and you'll be fine. Trying too hard is death; but then, it always has been - it's just this time around, the next Generation has the power to sink your business in one nochalent 'huh'.