Gen Y, or Generation Y, tools are those which have been developed during the Web 2.0 frenzy. These are tools and applications which for many are the only ways to communicate, with email and the phone becoming so last year.

You need to be au fait with the opportunities these Gen Y tools present for your internet marketing strategy, and begin to adopt their usage in order to communication effectively with your customers in the ways they prefer.

Some to start with are the social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Ecademy, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo (if your audience is typically young); mini-blogging tools such as Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Tumblr; blogs; RSS feeds; and social bookmarking tools such as del.icio.us, Digg, Reddit, and Stumbleupon.

Some are sector specific, eg news for South Africans, or technology, or music, and it is worth seeing if there are any that deal with your specific business sector, or product and services niche, as well as targetting your particular audience.

In order to investigate how you can use these new applications for your business, it is vital to try them out first for yourself and understand how they operate. This need not be a time-consuming process, but it is important to be aware of the rules of engagement so that you do not spam, break netiquette, or mistakenly upset people by misusing the tools.

When choosing which tools to use, it is a good idea to study how much time you will need to put in in order to keep, for instance, your Tweets or blog updated. There is no point launching a new initiative to market through Facebook pages and then find yourself with no time to attend to them. Far too often, we see blogs and Twitter pages where the last post is months or even years ago, and you can almost see the tumbleweed blowing across the screen!

Some sites are reasonably static eg Ecademy or LinkedIn and need little or no regular updating. Some of the social bookmarking tools merely require you to add a button to your site to allow the visitor to easily bookmark you. However, other sites are dynamic and fast-moving, and people in those communities who begin to follow you or are your fans or friends, will need regular content to keep them engaged.

It is better to start simple, and grow your Gen Y marketing organically, than attempt to include all tools in one go.

You can build one activity so that it feeds another, for instance, where your posts to delicious are automatically included in both your blog and daily/weekly newsletter, this will save huge amounts of time and capture people who use different methods to stay informed.

You can also incorporate your Blog, twitter, and friendfeeds into your Facebook pages. This level of integration is not technically difficult, although it may pay off to get someone knowledgable to set this up for you if you are not by nature a geek. Once in place, it can pay huge dividends.

Whichever methods of Gen Y marketing you choose, it would be a good idea to start right now!

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About the author:

Phil Robinson is an online marketing consultant with over 17 years experience in marketing planning, internet strategy and online acquisition. In 2004, Phil founded ClickThrough, an ethical search marketing agency. He gives best practice training for businesses, runs seminars and writes books on digital marketing.