Archive for category Social media
There’s been more research done to study Millenials than any other generation of American consumers. I’ve read my share of the studies, but the greatest lessons I’ve learned have been on the job at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) as senior vice president of marketing and PR.
Here are my top 6 lessons (so far):
1. Be nimble. Before I made the move to higher education I co-founded a fashion and lifestyle startup built on the Twitter platform targeting early adopter Millenials. As we were releasing our second product the core of our targeted consumer was still very much in love with Facebook and flat out dissed Twitter. Four or five months later, after I had taken over marketing at SCAD, that all changed very dramatically. Teenagers and young adults started leaving the suddenly parent heavy Facebook for the easier and more mobile friendly Twitter world. These platform shifts will continue to happen so pay attention and organize your teams to be able to react to major media consumption shifts like this.
2. Have a point of view. Perhaps this is part of my personal opinion mixed in with the lessons this job has taught me but as the research has suggested Millenials have a more global view of social, political and financial issues than generations that preceded them as teenagers and young adults. More than anything they have a point of view about issues small and large that my generation simply didn’t start thinking about until much later in life. Trying to get your brand’s point of view in agreement with that of this generation would be a mistake. However, appearing to be neutral is a bigger mistake. It shows your company has no conviction and hints that perhaps your organization hasn’t bothered to give it any thought — which makes you neutral. In this very noisy, always on world neutral is invisible.
3. Account for family influencers. Remember that these are young adults who still rely on parents and other family members to make big decisions. This is especially true for making decisions about big-ticket items like college. The consideration to go to college runs very broadly into familial networks (i.e. legacy, heritage and location) but very specifically to mom. The lesson for college and non-college marketers alike is that when targeting Millenials you must address the conversation they will be having with parents and others in the family. Build a relationship with that influencer through the medium or channel of their choice – which will not be the same channel. See my note about Twitter and Facebook above.
4. Test your message. Millenials are nothing if not professional multi-taskers especially when it comes to media consumption. Gaming. Social media. Music. YouTube. Text messages. Chats. Email. All are used on multiple devices at a pace that makes us old farts rather dizzy. If your message is not on target immediately it is ignored. Unlike my generation (who disdained advertising and marketing as a rule) Millenials actually like to interact with great marketing but your message and content has to be framed within a worldview they already have. This is true for every consumer, but more so for the generation who has grown up with the unsubscribe button at their fingertips right out of the womb.
5. Email is not dead. Coming into my position at SCAD, I thought that email was irrelevant to our targeted consumer compared to search engine marketing and social media. I was as wrong as acid wash jeans outside of a truck stop. Email can play a critical role in your communications strategy and media mix, but it has to be integrated with other content on social and the web. In my opinion, email to Millenials is something you introduce well after they’ve started to engage with your brand. It cannot stand on its own and less is definitely more. For people over 40 SPAM is annoying but tolerated. To Millenials SPAM is the devil burning Styrofoam cups on their iPhone. A few months ago, my team launched an email campaign (tied to other content) to an already used list of teenagers and we drove conversion rates to the call to action by almost 400%. We were very selective about the messaging, creative and time of delivery. It can be done.
6. Print publications are essentially dead. I am writing this in a hip coffee shop where I am easily the oldest customer; and I just did a lap around the room. Not a single Millenial has the print edition of the Wall Street Journal or New York Times (or any print publication for that matter) open. As a 45-year-old who started my career in a New York PR agency, I love the feel of the New York Times in my hands. It makes me feel like a better person just clutching it let alone acting like I’m reading it in public. But I’m not my target audience, they are. So when it comes to launching an integrated PR/marketing campaign for Millenials save that earned print media push for their parents.
Other stuff to read. Other than this brilliant post, if you’re going to do some reading about marketing for Millenials pick up “Chasing Youth Culture and Getting it Right” by Tina Wells. It is far more than a primer on the subject but really expounds on the many issues identified above and in more white paper like research about this generation of consumers. I pick it up and re-read chapters just as I do with “The Tipping Point” or “Positioning” before I build a campaign.
- Jose Mallabo
Sorry…for the all-too-obvious SEO- and Huffington Post-inspired headline. This post has little to do with getting more followers on Twitter. Could be worse. I could’ve named it: “Is Twitter more important than the Wall Street Journal?”
Social media, especially Twitter, is a global 24/7 session of Double Dutch. Only it’s with 500 million+ jump ropes none of which will slow down to let you in even though you just laced on a shiny new pair of Nikes and are carrying a swanky-fun handle.
Like Double Dutch you don’t run into the fray with your mouth open unless you want a 20-gauge rubber rope behind your bicuspids. You wait. You find the rhythm of the conversation then jump in prepared to be part of it.
- Before you start tweeting: Shut up and listen!
- Never build a company on the Twitter API. (Another story for different day.)
By listening for a bit you’ll get a sense what the language and conversation is on Twitter and you’ll see what gets the most interest in whatever topic you’re keen on. No matter what subject, I think you’ll see that people who have a constructive point of view get the most engagement on Twitter. So when you do want to start opening your mouth, think back to the way back days of TechCrunch (circa when we thought Friendster was the big ticket). Michael Arrington made that blog more influential than mainstream papers by having a point of view.
So, if you get stuck on finding a voice for your next tweet or post, ask yourself – what would @arrington do?
Then when you’re jusssst about to hit send on your 11th tweet stop, drop and roll. Take a look at the first ten tweets and count how many of those are about: A) broad topic of conversation that we all care about, B) dialogue with other tweeps, and C) how wonderful you are.
If more than two are focused on category C, put the mirror down and remember this guiding principle:
As @louhoffman reminded me last week no one you first meet at a cocktail party wants to hear a commercial about how wonderful you are. They want to engage with you about new and common areas of interest. And, they’ll stay for a full cocktail or maybe two if you’re a smidge entertaining.
New rule is the old rule: 50/30/20
Spend 50% of your time talking about broader subjects on Twitter. Then, 30% actively engaged with other people. And, just a wee 20% woofing about your parents’ progeny.
I lied. I’m giving you some tips. The last one is: Who you are on Twitter is somewhat reflective of who you are following. Follow wisely.
If you want to be seen and served up in the Twitter “Who to follow” engine as a global leader in M&A but are following 1,500 skateboarders . . . then odds are Twitter thinks you’re more like Tony Hawke than Larry Ellison.
- Jose Mallabo
. . . then entrepreneurship is forever.
Like Batman only with way cooler jeans and tee shirts.
The last few weeks have been very difficult for me and my team at Tweetalicious. But it’s interesting to look at what we’ve been doing since deciding to dissolve the company and shut down Mosaic. We broke up the band but have been out talking to other entrepreneurs to see how we can help or join forces with them to re-focus on the next next thing.
Even if that doesn’t happen, I have no doubt we’ll be back at it. Someday.
It’s only been a week but I miss the fight to build something out of nothing. I miss the heated discussions with my team. I even miss people telling us we were out of minds. It was a great ride and I’m proud of my co-founders for getting as far as we did with the MVP of Mosaic.
In the few weeks since we put Mosaic into beta testing at DiscoverMosaic.com it’s easy to see our user base has a palate for visual curation and design. The most visited tiles on the site are:
- Alexandra Spencer (@4THANDBLEEKER)
- Miranda Kerr (@MirandaKerr)
- Dolce & Gabbana (@DolceGabbana)
We curate content from three major areas: brands, fashion influencers and celebrities — and Alexandra is clearly a fashionable celebrity with influence.
So, what does this tell you about consumers and social content? Great visuals matter. The days of 140 text characters are dead like the Boston Red Sox. And I’d be willing to bet that if I looked at the least visited tiles on Mosaic – they’d all look like what happens when you cat stands on your keyboard.
Take a look at each of these handles and you’ll see commonalities. All of them create a steady flow of content often times posting updates five to 10 times a day. At least half of these tweets are pictures or videos. But what’s probably most important is that these are taken from a personal perspective. Even Dolce & Gabbana, obviously a company handle, pushes tweets out in a voice that makes it feel like a personal conversation. It’s an approach every social media pro aspires but often gets lost in execution.
Corporate speak: Boo!
Personalized visual content: Bring it. Yay.
I left LinkedIn about 18 months ago and remember marveling at the insane growth Twitter was experiencing at the time. They hit 50 million tweets per day so quickly and had driven so much activity within LinkedIn. That figure is now 340 million tweets per day driven by 140 million active members.
About a year ago Twitter reported that close to 500,000 new accounts were being opened each day. That’s about 180 million accounts on an annual basis, right? Or about 500 million registered users today.
The lesson here is that accounts do not equal people. A lot of those accounts are machines but a lot of those accounts also are dormant users who don’t do much once they create an account — because the pace on Twitter is impossible to follow and there are few tools built for consumers to help manage and consume it.
The reality is that a small fraction of people actually create content on Twitter. But people say that like it’s a bad thing. A lot has been written about how these above vanity numbers are just that — hype. The comparison to Facebook’s staggering growth and engagement rates are natural and daunting and only feeds the sentiment that no one is really using Twitter.
Not so fast you Nancy Naysayers!
Mass media — namely that little ol’ thing we media researchers like to call the ‘most influential medium in the history of mankind’ or simply ‘television’ — lends a great example of how Twitter content is used by the masses. People watch and consume content, not necessarily create it.
Think about it. If you’re old enough to rent a car in the U.S. odds are you averaged somewhere between 3 to 5 hours a day of TV consumption for a good chunk of your life. How many times did you create TV programming or call or write NBC, HBO, Cinemax or any other programmer to comment on their content? Answer: Zero times in the last (pick any number) years.
What if there was a tool to consume Tweets the way people consume TV programming? What would you call those ‘dormant’ Twitter accounts?
I’d call it an opportunity. Here I come.
- Jose Mallabo
Everyone wants to be on the winning team. It just takes longer for some people to see the winning.
I remember walking my first Bay to Breakers race about a decade ago. I had a very broken arm and lugged around a cast that ran from my fist to my armpit. An hour into the 7 mile race someone with a bullhorn was yelling to the masses: “The Kenyans have already won. Go home!” I laughed and limped along with the thousands of others — appreciative of the update.
Social media isn’t too different. The early adopters have been claiming victory over traditional marketing channels since Facebook and Twitter were mere puppies. Search, email and general multi-media marketing/advertising might have a few things to say about that. But if you just look at the growth of Facebook and Twitter memberships over the past year — they’re signing up more people now than they were two or three years ago — you can start to see the not-so-early-adopters getting on the bandwagon.
And that’s OK. We all can’t be died-in-the-wool Yankees, Patriots, Red Sox or Phillies fans. Someone has to get on the bus last. So grab your licensed apparel and get on the social media express. But to the newcomers to social, I’d caution you from drinking solely from the awareness pitcher. Check that box and skip ahead to finding out how social media can drive lead generation and business development — because that’s the Kool Aid pitcher the cool kids are filling up from.
It can look a little like this one that I know was used in generating ~$200 million on software/solutions business leads for an enterprise facing company with a big blue logo.
Not as sexy as a Facebook page with videos of the trendy people at your company doing fun things in skinny jeans. But it works. And it will take this kind of coordinated approach to driving business for social media to run with the Kenyans.
Look at this.
Not only is e-commerce growing – projected to hit almost $300 billion by 2015 – it is growing as a percentage of overall retail.
How? The easy and obvious answer is that people are finding shopping online easier and more convenient than going to the store.
The same analyst firm that projected this growth also did a study recently (with my current employer GSI Commerce) looking at holiday 2010 shopping data from 15 online retailers representing about $1 billion in gross merchandise sales.
One of the primary takeaways is that email and search remain the most influential channel to moving shoppers from browsing to buying. Yes, you read that right – old school e-mail can still bring it.
That inflamed a huge tidal wave of boos from the Mashable and social media faithful (I consider myself both) – but when you really dig into the numbers, study and where we are as a social media using country it really makes sense. Think about it. Most people who are the breadwinners and decision makers on discretionary spending in the U.S. have been on e-mail for 15 to 20 years. The early adopters of that group mayyyybe have been on social media networks for a 2-3 years. When you factor in the difference in dynamics between these two mediums it really makes a lot of common sense why email is still more powerful in e-commerce than social.
E-mail is very private. It’s a true 1:1 medium that we’ve been conditioned for most of our adult lives to keep to ourselves and guard with legal disclaimers like “this transmission is meant solely for the recipient and is confidential” blah, blah, blah. Email has spent the greater part of the last generation becoming the closest thing to our digital identity or our virtual Social Security Number. So, if a retailer can get to me there – odds are I’m primed to buy from them.
Social networks on the other hand are very public. Every major social network’s product settings are defaulted to share everything you do on the network. Most people rarely ever switch those settings to something other than that. So, while finding and sharing good deals on underwear, vacations and massages is great fun. It doesn’t seem likely that people like my father or middle aged buddies would show the world they’re buying these things.
This is my semi-professional opinion. I live in e-commerce and make a living as a social media guy. But kick my tires. Walk across the building in your office and show a total stranger your Facebook wall. Then hand the him your BlackBerry or iPhone and ask him to thumb through your email.
It’s this sense of intimacy with our emails that explains why Groupon and LivingSocial are growing so fast while true social networks like Facebook and Twitter are still finding their legs in e-commerce. I get into cold sweat at just the idea of even my mother reading my emails. Groupon and LivingSocial aren’t so much social commerce companies but at their core are email marketing geniuses that buy and sell local deals with the leverage of their members (that’s the social part) to push down prices for the individual consumer.
E-mail commerce. Maybe it’s not a popular headline, but email still works and will likely remain a big part of that $300 billion market. It’s no wonder why all favorite social networking sites update me on new features, product news and privacy updates on my email. I still read them.
- Jose Mallabo
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