Youth Marketing Insights » Twitter Inspiring best in practice youth marketing through sharing of ideas, strategy, trends and conversations about cool stuff Thu, 04 Feb 2010 04:31:40 +0000 en hourly 1 MySpace: R.I.P or maybe just life support? Thoughts on keeping your brand relevant. Wed, 24 Jun 2009 04:49:49 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

There are many examples of once loved brand giants that maybe were a bit complacent, misjudged impact of new consumer trends and in turn lost relevance with their youth audience. Ahhh, those “fickle” youth…As we know 20/20 hindsight is a bitch…

What stronger case in point is my once beloved MySpace. In 2005 it was darling of the web and a pioneer. Today, literally, it has had to face a remarkable reversal of fortune, marked by announcing that it is conducting its second round of layoffs in a week to a total reduction of nearly 30% of its staff.

From my own account I was loyal to MySpace since early 2004 when I initially joined, but when my friends almost exclusively migrated to Facebook, I found eventually I spent less and less time anywhere else. By 2008 I rarely logged on to MySpace. Over time it appears the site has evolved to become more about discovery – discovery of music, new friends, etc. Perhaps due to the self-branding options. None of things I ever really used it for in the first place. I wonder for how many this is the case?

But this story is larger than me (feign surprise). It is influence that other social networks are begining to have on the world at large which makes MySpace seem to be losing its relevance…fast. To put it in perspective, look at the other social sites and their instrumental role surrounding the recent election and since protests in Iran. Iranian opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousav has been blasting out messages as Facebook posts (see Mashable post here), YouTube has proven to be citizen journalist hot bed for raw footage you weren’t seeing on network news (see another Mashable post here), and Twitter has become a tool of the revolution (see #iranelection trending topic here).…

MySpace on the other hand? Struggling to keep its head above water, and all at a time when social media has never been more powerful.

So where did it go wrong? Well we can be sure that it is oversimplifying the issue to say they are losing relevance to its teen market and so are struggling. There have been major catalysts outside of any consumer facing issues which escalated the process. However stats reveal the user base and page views have declined, and the younger rival Facebook has overtaken. That I would argue is related to its core product/service offering losing its appeal. More concerning for them, in the US where MySpace has reigned supreme, according to recent Habbo research (June, 2009), Facebook continues to grow in popularity up to third place from fifth in 2008. Globally the research also finds YouTube and Facebook already outrank MySpace as teens top Web destinations, MySpace appearing at #4 on the list.

I guess the moral of my story is if you are marketing to a youth audience, never get too comfortable with #1 status. Keep asking yourself how you are going to stay fresh, are you still delivering to your audience’s needs. Try new things. Most importantly LISTEN. It doesn’t take a futurist to to predict what your audience is already asking for.

Lloyd Grove states in a Daily Beast article titled, “MySpace’s Dizzying Fall“, while sure it has been an incredible drop from “hot” to “on life support” for MySpace, it is possible that “neither diagnosis is true”, or perhaps both are. I would like to agree with that and extend – we should never underestimate the opportunity to inject energy into a brand and refresh it back to life. It wouldn’t be the first time innovation and change has brought new life to a fallen giant (Apple’s iPod; Nintendo’s Wii?).

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Tweet, Tweet: New Way to Call the Police? Fri, 19 Jun 2009 04:20:43 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

On Wednesday morning I attended the Twitter for Business / Twitter for PR presentation, hosted by Glenn Frost of FroComm. The Twitter for Business overview was a 101 tutorial so in my opinion a little elementary for the audience. For many in client services however it is the hot topic of the moment so it was timely. Plus I love Twitter. What I challenge us to focus on however is less how to get engaged on Twitter, but more WHY you should. Not just to have a conversation, we know that by now, but what is the purpose of that conversation, what role will you have? A strategy needs to be clearly articulated. I get that it’s good to try and through trial we learn and grow, but to provide legitimacy to the value of social media we need to be clear on the purpose and outcomes. By nature of the beast these will be different than other traditional efforts, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Which leads to the next part of the conference, Twitter for PR, which I thought was really interesting. A little misleading by name it was a Case Study presented by New South Wales (NSW) Police Public Affairs Director, Strath Gordon. Mr Gordon discussed how they were brand-jacked on Twitter. If you aren’t familiar with the story basically an Australian Social Media agency, Mentally Friendly, set up the Twitter account (@NSW_Police) in the name of the police department. It was an interesting thing to do to get a potential client’s attention, except impersonating a brand – let along the New South Wales police – probably wasn’t the right tone of transparency we try so hard to keep real online. To be fair I read on CNET that Mentally Friendly added that “the intent was never to misrepresent the NSW Police Force, but to create a simple and genuine dialog with which to gauge the public’s response.” Good thing they had a sense of humor about it.

As a result of the fake Twitter ID, the NSW Police decided to launch into Social Media, as have many other law enforcement agencies worldwide. It has proven an incredibly powerful way to communicate and engage with the community. Public safety officials are finding the sites not only speedy, but also a convenient way to distribute alerts, road closings, suspect descriptions, traffic disruptions, explain why police are in a certain neighborhood or to offer crime prevention tips. Others encourage leads on more pressing matters: bomb scares, wildfires and evacuations.

In addition to providing a semi-reliable distribution channel, apparently the police also face issues that brands do as well – how do we humanise our organisation to the public. Take for example the Boston Police Department and its amusing response to a question…

- Boston Police tweet “INJURED OFFICER: Officer from district 4 transported to Beth Israel Hospital, human bite to arm, suspect in custody”

- @willcady responds: “@Boston_Police if that was a zombie bite, would you tell us?”

- Boston Police: “@willcady Yes, absolutely”

Cute, good response. Glad even the ploice get the nature of the medium. I had never really thought about “friendly” communication with police departments before – usually I would only call in an emergency – but hey, why not?

However I do get concerned that in the dive into social media some of the potential issues may have not been worked out. For example, are the police monitoring these communications platforms as another way for people to contact in a case of emergency? Before your respond that’s absurd, and I wouldn’t blame you, note there was a case of a Silicon Valley exec who did just that when someone broke in. Read the story here if you don’t believe me….If you still think it’s absurd, think ahead a little to a time when Twitter is seamlessly integrated within our other communication devices – for some that is already the case – maybe in crisis it becomes hard to decipher between the different apps on your iPhone. If police departments are not monitoring Twitter or other social media channels they create as an emergency channel – how are they educating consumers about the various purposes? Realistically is it safe to rely on general public’s understanding of those distinctions anyway?

Never would I try to stifle the growing engagement of social media for any brand, government body, law enforcement agency or every day person. However, I do hope that we all think strategically and be smart about potential outcomes – not just the positive ones but the risks as well…

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Gen Y Mocks Twitter Users: The walled-gardens of social media Wed, 01 Apr 2009 21:19:18 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg This is pretty much truth – not all social media sites are created equal. Well, maybe a bit more accurate to state that not all social media sites were created or used with equality of purpose.

So, that in mind, watch this video from “SuperNews!”, an animated sketch comedy series airing on Current TV. it features some ‘young adults’ battling an addiction to Twitter….the social network Gen Y just doesn’t get.

As you can see by the video, as well as the comments below, Gen Y not into Twitter. As Gen Y love social media and played an important role as facilitators in the growth, it’s obviously not an adoption issue. Recently however many ‘adults’ have also come to crash this at one time exclusive party. In fact Facebook states that it’s fastest growing user base is 50+ women, and the highest percentages of people on Twitter are 30-40somethings. With the exception of the mother who Facebooks her kids to spy a little bit, there is not much cross-generational communication happening online. Why?

Well many tools are used differently by different groups. While some may use Twitter for random status updates (“I am eating dinner with my cat on the couch”, “I just ran into the bar, it said ouch”), most use it for information spreading, personal branding and a whole lot of networking. As the video clearly points out, Twitter is for people ‘who have no friends’, another way to state that it is not about hanging out but participating in open, public dialogue…with no one in particular. On the flip side, research supports the Connected Generation uses social networks more of an extension of what they do offline, that is socialise with their existing group of friends. So these places that ‘adults’ have invaded and are networking…Gen Y not interested.

So varying social networks, varying user groups with varying interests. It turns out that social media is actually just a huge set of walled-gardens. It is important for marketers to keep this in mind. Next time we casually throw out “leveraging social media”, we need to challenge and be challenged on understanding not only the functions of social media sites to distribute information, but the role it plays in users lives as well. Kids don’t want to be friends with brands on Facebook, and branded content on YouTube doesn’t just “go viral” because it is on there….not that I was born understanding this either, but after several years of working with Youth brands in the digital space, it is all becoming a bit clearer.

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