If you are over 30 or 35, chances are that your first relationship with media was as a consumer. You read, watched, viewed and received. But if you’re under 30, chances are pretty good that your first exposure to media was as a participant. You learned early on to post, share, distribute and create.
No doubt most of us do both; we watch and we participate. But there’s pretty good chance that as the first generation of so-called digital natives gets older and plays an even more significant economic and cultural role their media habits will force marketers to change strategies and tactics even more rapidly than they’ve had to in the last few years.
The evidence is everywhere. Ninety five percent of Millennials are members of a social network. That is their “news” source, not to mention their preferred media interaction. Thirty seven percent access the web from a mobile device. That completely changes the when, where and how brands need to connect and interact with this generation. Sixty four percent of Gen Y creates content in some form of another, more than twice the percentage of all web users. Potentially they can play a significant role in developing or expanding a brand’s story.
So what does all of this mean for brands and marketers? Better social media skills? More clever ways of crowdsourcing? Transmedia story telling? A knowledge of propogation planning? An instinct for when to apply game dynamics?
Hard to say. One thing’s for certain, however. The generation that makes thumb contact more often than eye contact isn’t about to grow up and turn into TV watching couch potatoes. And even if they do, chances are they’ll be watching on smartphones, pads and maybe even äppärati.
Our group includes Chris Mahl, SVP of Marketing for SCVNGR, the hot new gaming platform; Matt Britton, CEO and founder of Mr. Youth, an alternative word of mouth ad agency; Matt Lauzon, the Gen Y entrepreneur behind Gemvara, an online jeweler that lets you design your own jewelry; and the award winning college journalist Alex Pearlman, who edits thenextgreatgeneration.com.
We figure that covers four potential trends that marketers may want to heed: games and game dynamics; word of mouth and social networking; customization and control; and the desire to be part of a community.
The event, probably sold out, may have a waiting list. But we hope to video the session and share the conversation live on Twitter via #tnggpanel.
Hope you’ll join us there, and even here in the comment section with any of your own predictions, questions, or other.
Thanks for reading. Hope to see you at FutureM.
Economically, it may be a tough time to start a business. But from a marketing perspective, it couldn’t be better. Blogs, Twitter, YouTube, location based platforms, and the willingness, if not determination, of consumers to become followers, fans and even participants presents startups with plethora opportunities to attract, engage and influence.
Recently I was asked to advise a group of young companies on how to market in the age of social media. The easiest approach may have been to make list of books to read, blogs to follow and platforms to use, as it’s not really a topic you can squeeze into 30 or 40 minutes. But what the hell, I gave it a go anyway.
Here were my thoughts. I offered five fundamental recommendations and 11 examples of creative approaches.
Stop thinking like a marketer
At least stop thinking like a traditional marketer. Traditional marketers identify audiences, craft messages, fire those messages at their target, put money into a media plan and hope to penetrate the market. Social media marketers build community, craft experiences, fire off invitations, put resources into developing an interest plan and look for ways to collaborate with customers. Instead of thinking us and them, think we.
Start by answering the right questions
Signing up for Twitter or launching a Facebook page won’t make you successful. If you believe that gathering, inspiring and mobilizing a community is a valid way to build a business you need a smart strategy. It helps to answer these questions. What do stand for? Who is your community? What kind of relationship do you want to have with them? (Partner? Coach? Friend?) Where do they hang out online? What will your content be? How and why will people share it? How can they participate in shaping it? And, of course, what do you want to get out of the effort? Learning? Awareness? Word-of-mouth? Feedback? Answer those questions first and you’ll have the beginning of a plan.
Take time to learn the basics
There are dozens of ways to use social media — for attention, interaction, generating involvement. But if you’re in it for the long term you need to get the basics right.
One, figure out where you should make your presence felt. There are dozens of platforms – from Twitter to SCVNGR – but they may not all be right for you.
Two, master conversation strategy. There are still marketers who do nothing but push out information. Polluting the stream will not endear you to very many people. You need to promote others, share content of value and come bearing gifts.
Three, determine the tools that will make your time and effort more efficient and measurable. There are tools for listening, tools for analytics, tools to help leverage existing platforms. If you don’t know what you’re getting out of your efforts, you’re wasting time and money.
Become a media-content company
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, when it comes to social media, you’re in the content business. You can be useful, entertaining or both. The best social media marketers are sharing advice, tips, answers, insights and entertainment via every media imaginable – blogs, video, Twitter, apps, and iAds.
First and foremost, be creative
One advantage of social media is that anyone can create content. One disadvantage of social media is that anyone can create content. You still need people to pay attention and get engaged. There are numerous ways to do that. Here are 11.
- Don’t buy the medium, own the medium. Gary Vaynerchuk and Tom Dickson are two good examples.
- Create a direct line of communication to customers. See Kogi BBQ or Baker’s Tweet.
- Include fans in the creation of a business. Thank you Uniform Project.
- Share everything you know. Brilliant strategy executed by Best Buy and OK Cupid.
- Make content one of your product offerings. Justin Bent Rail Boots is just one of many examples. Gemvara’s blog is another.
- Create a community that people want to join. See thenextgreatgeneration.com
- Hi-jack a news story. Brammo Motorcycles is among the best I’ve seen yet.
- Turn an analog event into a digital experience. Brandbowl2010.com was inexpensive and successful.
- Leverage existing communities. Simple to do, here’s one example from AJ Bombers.
- Invite everyone to experience your brand. Antwerp Zoo did a great job.
- Consider game dynamics. Uniqlo’s tweets to get a better deal taps into the group discovery dynamic.
Anyway, I’m sure you have more thoughts and suggestions to share with your local startup. If so, please leave them here for everyone. Thanks for reading.
I’ve always loved working with startup companies. Nothing beats the thrill of working side by side with a founding entrepreneur, trying to build a company from scratch, or defining a brand for the first time.
I’ve also been really lucky, having worked on the launch of Lotus 1-2-3, Smartfood Popcorn, Monster.com, Oxygen Media, Lending Tree and most recently Springpad. Not to mention a bunch of others who weren’t quite as successful.
So when the AdClub of Boston asked me to talk to some of the top startups in the world, according to the Mass Challenge, I jumped on it. Mass Challenge is a very cool idea, a competition that attempts to identify the most worthy new ideas, from all over the globe. The collaborative effort involves dozens of organizations collectively committed to igniting a global startup renaissance and supporting entrepreneurs.
This year’s contest filtered 440 entrants from 26 countries and 24 states down to 110 finalists. When all is said and done 10 to 20 winners will receive grants between $50,000 and $100,000 toward launching their business. Great idea.
On Monday, I’ll join Fran Kelley, CEO of Arnold Worldwide; Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace; and others from Beam Interactive and Shift Communications in advising these startups on how to brand their companies.
We need entrepreneurs. New companies. Fresh ideas. Whether they become future clients, products and technologies that make us more productive, or simply sources of inspiration for our own continued growth. They might even serve to light a fire under our asses should those asses get too comfortable in our current situation.
I’m going on Monday because I expect to get something amazing in return. A rush of adrenalin. A chance to hear about new ideas. An infusion of energy that comes when you get in a room with a bunch of people determined to create something great despite odds, obstacles and uncertainty. Having done the equivalent once with Mullen, I’m always jealous.
Need a dose of energy? Tired of the slow pace of committees and corporate decision making? Want more responsibility than you’ve ever had before? Find a way to work with, or for, a startup. There’s no money, no time and nowhere near enough resources. But you’ll get to find out just how creative you really are. And probably have the time of your life.
AdAge has a cover story this week about the exodus of creative talent from the big agencies. Apparently it’s just not fun. Too many meetings, process, budgets, staffing issues. Shit, creative people just want to make stuff. And in big, fat agencies process gets in the way of doing things.
Perhaps. But it’s also true that in a lot of these agencies the things that people historically have made were TV spots, campaigns and messages. Executions over which a few people could exercise complete control. Concepts that had a beginning, middle and end. Along with a media plan that also adhered to a start and stop date. You came up with an idea. Then you sold it, produced it, ran it, entered it, and moved on.
If that’s your idea of fun, then obviously you’re not having any. This is the age of Pepsi Refresh, Ford Fiesta Movement, Burberry’s never ending content stream and brands like OK Cupid doing it themselves.
But some of us are actually having a lot of fun doing things other than TV spots. We’re re-inventing the old model. Experimenting with crowdsourcing. Building things that have utility. Mastering augmented reality. Leveraging social media and communities. Learning new tactics. Working with digital creatives. Trying out the emerging platforms. Figuring out how to be inventive with geo-based, mobile technology. And, yes, making videos.
Read the comments underneath the AdAge piece and you’re reminded that all marketing these days is about ongoing conversation, interaction, and ways to include the reader/customer/prospect. (Even if some of the comments lament the end of the good old days.) Great ideas and storytelling remain essential but they’re but one aspect of creativity in the post digital, neo-social, me-focused age of connectivity.
Consider the challenges that most clients bring to agencies. They’re looking for new ways to involve customers in product development. Striving to leverage their employees in the manner of Best Buy. Hoping to influence with new content; some of which they create, some of which they inspire others to create. They’re interested in leveraging third-party apps and platforms or building Grateful Dead-like loyalty programs. Even dreaming of an eco-system that actually allows prospects to enter via doors that could be labeled search, discover, learn, connect, share or transact.
Smart marketers know that somewhere between product experience, community participation, social responsibility, gaming dynamics, and crowdsourcing is the new thirty-second TV commercial.
And they’re challenging their agencies to figure out better ways to combine content, UX, social media, utility, mobile and new opt-in retail applications into something coherent, measurable and even predictable.
Solving that problem is definitely more complicated than making a TV commercial. It calls for a new set of skills, a lot more meetings, or at least a familiarity with new digital collaboration tools. But it still calls for creativity. And it can even be fun.
Big agencies stuck in old processes and production models can’t adjust. I’ve attended enough seminars and spoken at enough conferences to know that many are struggling to figure it out. But whether they do or not remains to be seen. I can only imagine how miserable it must be to work in a place that knows how to do one thing and have that one thing less in demand than it’s ever been.
The smaller, more interesting shops however — especially alternative or digital agencies – are having a blast. We’re finding inspiration from outside our industry. Learning to think like Ideo, watching the tactics of companies like Undercurrent, even trying our own versions of what Ty Montague has recently formalized with Co.
Ad Age paints a bleak picture of the business. But they’ve chosen to focus on people who are leaving places that can’t or won’t embrace real change. However, look into some of the newer, smaller, more nimble agencies, where digital and social thinking reign, and you not only see plenty of creativity, you find an industry that’s more fun than it’s ever been.
Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Gary Shteyngart, the very funny, Russian, American, Jewish author of Absurdistan and more recently Super Sad True Love Story, a dystopian love story set in near future America, a country in decline, at war with Venezuela, and hopelessly dependent on the next generation of social media technology. The latter is brilliantly represented by the ubiquitous äppärat, a post-iPhone device worn around your neck that streams virtually everything about the people and world around you.
Walk into a bar and your äppärat immediately gives you the f**kability rating of everyone in the room. It tells you where you rank in attractiveness compared to others of the same gender. It even reveals people’s background, net worth and education, leaving you hardly any reason to “verbal” with peers or colleagues.
Shteyngart’s book is a love story about Lenny, a 30 something Russian immigrant who defies all things modern by still reading and cherishing books, and Eunice, a Korean immigrant, much younger than Lenny and far more attractive than anyone Lenny feels entitled to be sleeping with. Eunice spends most of her time shopping online.
What makes Super Sad True Love Story of interest to anyone reading here is the author’s portrayal of technology and social media. The book paints a picture of a future in which everyone is forever exposed in the social space. Lenny is listed publicly on a site labeling the 101 people who most deserve our pity. His aging Jewish parents in New Jersey can check their son’s f**ability ratings online. And that’s nothing compared to the condemnation Lenny receives for still reading books, which are disdained by most everyone for their mustiness and old smell.
As you can see in this short video, Shteyngart questions our dependence on technology, laments the fact that our vocabularies are diminishing and pokes fun at social media. During the Q and A after his reading he spoke passionately about the importance of seeking solitude and losing ourselves in the characters and worlds that only books can offer us.
Ironically however, while claiming to see little value in social media, preferring instead to verbal with real people, he’s marketing his book with a trailer on YouTube, a Facebook fan page, and even an iPhone app.
On a positive note, nearly 300 people attended his sold out reading at the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Brookline, Massachusetts where my TNGG (thenextgreatgeneration.com) friends and I met Gary for a pre-reading video interview. Few if any had their iPhones out during the reading. OK, I tweeted a couple of times, but only a couple.
If you still read formats other than blog posts and Twitter streams, give Gary a try. He’s considered by many one of the best under-40 authors in America.