Top Five Reasons to Give Up on Millennials

 

Thank you, Deloitte’s, for a ‘just when I thought I’d seen/heard everything’ moment. Please give it up for the ‘MilleXZials’ – an amalgamation of Gen Z (ages 14-20), millennials (21-34) and Gen X (35-51). Apparently, their ‘mobile consumption behaviours’ – and, I’d venture, many other of their consumption behaviours – are pretty much the same.

Being older than all of these amalgamated whippersnappers and, yet, probably possessed of the very same consumption behaviours, I think Messrs Deloitte have missed a trick here. ‘MilleXZials-boom!’ would have been so much better. The point is that ‘milleXZials’ are everyone.

As, on a slightly smaller scale, are Millennials. Here are five reasons why we should ditch the lazy catch-all that is ‘millennial’ and get on with understanding the needs of a micro-segmented audience.

Millennials are not a distinct group

Only in that they were all born between 1980 and 2000. Stating the obvious, the oldest are 38 and the youngest are 18. Socially, economically, politically, ideologically, technologically – they’re different shades on a very broad spectrum. They cannot be influenced, communicated with or sold to with a one-size-fits-all approach.

Millennial is not a synonym for ‘the youth of today’

Because while some of them are, others – very clearly – aren’t. (Recently I read the phrase ‘Millennials, and their older siblings…’ Hell’s teeth, I’m the older sibling of a top-of-the-range Millennial. Talk about broad generalisations.)

Millennials are not ‘the workforce of tomorrow’

Saw a presentation recently entitled ‘Boomers vs Millennials: are you ready for the shift in your workforce’? End-of-generation Millennials are 38 years old. They’ll have already been in the workplace 16 years, supposing they endured higher education. They’re your boss. A quarter of Millennials have been in the workplace for 10 years or more.

Millennials do not all want the same things

Whether that’s world peace, corporate purpose, recyclable coffee containers or a sushi bar in the workplace. To imply that they do is to lose focus and render any communication strategy so broad-brush as to be wholly ineffectual.

Millennials are not disadvantaged compared to the previous generation

They can’t all afford houses because house prices have risen out of all proportion to the price of anything else, and society’s rules vis a vis home ownership have changed. That being said, there are jobs to be had, and jobs in ‘new’ industry sectors (think internet, social media, fintech, bioscience) pay comparatively well. Millennials live as well, if not better, than previous generations. Even if ‘millennial unrest’ was a thing, it isn’t.

Dump Broad Groupings – Embrace Nano-Targeting

Millennials was the first socio-economic group that wasn’t.  (And there will be no more that are.) Regardless of any other influences – and there are myriad others, obviously – the incredibly rapid growth and implementation of new technologies alone has seen to that.

The internet, as we know it, became a thing around about 1995. Thus, Millennials born in 1980 grew up with dial-up and cables. Millennials born in 1995 grew up with smartphones and broadband. Facebook was founded in 2004 – early Millennials would have been all over it. Later Millennial has probably closed his or her account. Early Millennials are sporting FitBits and confuse automated call centres with AI. Sharp-end Millennials are already thinking about having payment chips implanted in their hands.

For the last time – ‘Millennials do this, and Millennials think that’ – it’s lazy, and it’s unimaginative. Millennials don’t exist.

Diageo recently made a song and dance about micro-targeting – given the current rate of technological development, evolution, implementation and utilisation (and its effect on society) expect to have to coin a new term for a new group every month or so.

It’s not micro, it’s nano.

You’re Zucked!

Proof, were it needed, that Facebook is eeeee-ville.

Well, OK, it’s not actually proof, per se, and it’s not actually Facebook, per se, it’s more a bunch of opinions about the loathsome whelp who started it all, Mark Zuckerberg. Who, incidentally,  sounds like a genuinely unpleasant nerd with few ethics and a touch of the pulling-the-legs-off-flies Asperger’s about him. 

(But that’s just my tuppence worth and I am happy to state – for the record – that it is in no way based on fact or personal experience and is merely a conclusion drawn from available material and thus only probably bang on the money.)

Anyway, if, lazy, slothful, comatose blog snorkellers mine, you were (for once) to follow the link that I’ve posted, you’d find yourself inside the head of one Jason Calacanis, who definitely has a downer on the Zuckerbergster. And, if half the things he’s saying are half true, then perhaps he’s right. (Although he does go on at quite some length, implying that he may have an axe of a personal nature to grind.) 

I was taken with the term ‘You’re Zucked’ which appears to describe the state of having had your ideas stolen by someone, or having been screwed over by a business partner. Apparently, his behaviour has been so bad that those in the know are now calling for a boycott of ‘book, and have decreed that ‘book is seriously uncool.

(Mind, if ‘book really has 400 million users and is the third largest country in the world by population, I think it may take a little time for this uncoolness to filter down. I also cannot help but thinking – what did you expect? His Zuckness is an entrepreneur and a businessman and you don’t get anywhere by being nice and holding the door open for people. But maybe that’s me.)

My worry is that if ‘book goes down – what hideous creature will rise in its place? See – I don’t believe the social media hippies and I don’t believe in the inherent goodness and niceness of all and sundry. There’s always someone who wants to make money and screw everyone else – and if it’s not the Zuckerburger, then who (or what) is waiting in the wings?

Maybe we should be careful what we wish for. (Or, as I’m speaking for myself, what I wish for.)

Quiet in here, isn’t it?

Social Media – Fact Or Facebo**o*ks?

Today, blog snorkellers mine, I is mostly having difficulty getting my head round this. I’m not saying it’s not true, mind, simply that I am having difficulty getting my head round it. It’s called ‘Visualising Six Years of Facebook’ (it’s actually called ‘Visualizing 6 Years of Facebook’, but this title, as it stands, is ugly, depressing and incorrect) and it shows – pictorially – salient statistics illustrating the rise and rise of this social media phenomenon. And, as I’ve said, I’m having difficulty getting me ‘ead around it.

Listen, right. The global population, according to the United States Census Bureau, is estimated to be in the region of 6.8bn. (Obviously, the USCB counts some US citizens twice, because they’re so gosh-darned saturatedly fat, but even so, it’s a pretty accurate and informed stab at the number.) According to the ‘Book, it now has 400 million users. That’s (for the sake of argument) 4% of the world’s population. Which means that four in every hundred people have – at some point – logged on and registered themselves wiv da Face’. Then, further to that, it appears that 200 million of these users log in every day.

Every day. 2% of the global population log in every day. Two people in every hundred, everywhere, log in to their Facebook account. Is it just me – or does this seem just a little far-fetched, especially given that global internet penetration stands at 25.6%? I mean – here are the actual figures – population 6.8bn, internet users 1.7 bn. This implies that 25% of internet users are on Facebook and 12.5% of them log in to the ‘Book every day. Sorry, as I say, I’m having difficulty wiv me ‘ead.

Further than that, even, this piece of work says that the ‘average Facebook user’ (they don’t define what they mean by ‘average’) spends 55 minutes every day (every day!) on the site. It’s one of those stats that seems faintly plausible – just so long as you don’t look at it too hard, or think about it too much.

No – I’m sorry. I don’t buy it. I don’t know where the data is coming from. My suspicion is that someone is feeding it into the marketplace and there are enough gullible souls and snakeoil salesmen preying on the gullibility that it gets picked up and touted around and then becomes fact. I feel a conspiracy theory coming on – after all, usage data should be very simple to get from a site like Facebook – but it just seems too high.

Anyway, I am probably completely wrong and the world is, indeed, being smothered by da Face’. Sooner or later, it’ll achieve sentience and then we’ll be properly f*cked.

In the meantime, despite this data being used to big the ‘Book up and point out how great it is, and how it’s changing the face of our society as we know it (eating it from the inside, more like), it still remains true to say that no-one has found a way of harnessing it for a commercial end. Social media as a business marketing or communications tool still doesn’t work. The feral communities that these sites create simply will not be leveraged, herded, corralled or targeted.

Say this data’s true. Say that 200 million people do log in each day. That’s an enormous amount. Should be like shooting fish in a barrel. But I’d say that if big business can’t get a result with these sorts of numbers – well – doesn’t matter how big it is, it’s still a white elephant.

Social Media – 20 Tools For Social Media Monitoring

In the spirit of entente cordiale (although, if I’m to be honest, if I ever drink cordiale, it’s normally cassis), and in order that it never be said that I don’t give you (dear blog snorkellers) a little something every now and then, here is a post wot I ‘appened upon recently, providing a list of 20 free tools for use in monitoring social media – both for the results (yeah, right) of any social media marketing activity you may be (misguidedly) undertaking and generally, for mentions of you, your company and your brand.

The list contains splendid-sounding stuff like Addictomatic, Buzzoo, Surchur, Brandeye, Tazzup, and SocialMention amongst others – however, before you rush off and fill your boots with free monitoring, might I sound a couple of words of caution.

Also included within the list, and put forward as a a good and sensible solution, are Google Alerts. If you’re like me, then you’ve been using Google Alerts to monitor online news feeds for quite some time, and recognise their shortcomings. In the nicest possible way, Google Alerts are not groundbreaking and simply ride on the back of Google’s raison d’etre – being a good search engine. The results they deliver are far from complete and miss great chunks of – sometimes important – content.

This does rather imply that the other 19 solutions on the list are also not rocket science – and, having had a quick go myself, I can vouch for this. They’re not rocket science and they’re far from being complete.

Sorry – and I can’t help myself – I think the tools for monitoring social media are like the media themselves – misunderstood, over-estimated, inaccurate and not delivering of much in the way of value.

But – hey – make your own mind up.

Social Media – News Tweets And Measuring Impact

(Just as an aside, could we dispense with the term ‘press release’, used to describe a piece of writing, carrying a message and sent to a journalist with the aim of generating media coverage? Could we not just say ‘news release’ or ‘media release’? Is it not time we broadened our horizons? Anyway.)

Today, blog snorkellers mine, I give you not one wonderful thing to look at – but two! And, as you know that I am not a great advocate of social media as business or marketing communications tools, you may be intrigued to hear that they are both social media ‘value-adds’. Of course, I will put my spin on both, but you can think for yourselves, can’t you,  and you might just go away with something you feel you can use. Never, as I have said before, never say I don’t give you anything.

First I give you muckrack.com. This appears, as far as I can see – and I can’t go very far into these things, as my eyes mist over, a sense of panic descends and I find myself forgetting how to breathe – to be a sort of happy journalistic tweety site, to which you, the hapless PR practitioner, can post (for a small sum) your press releases, in tweet form. (See what I mean about the use of ‘press release’? In an online medium? Or is it that ‘press release’ is a bit like ‘press gang’ – you read the headline and it hits you over the head and the next thing you know you’re waking up in front of your PC and you’ve written a rubbish story about some crappy feminine hygiene product. Hmmmm?)

Personally, I think Muckrack is a site too far. I think it’s the answer to a question that no-one asked. I think it’s someone, probably with the best of intentions, trying to make Twitter relevant to the communications/media industries. I think the content’s a bit poor and there isn’t really a context. I’m afraid that Muckrack is doing nothing to convince me that I ought to be any closer to ‘social media strategy’ than my current ‘not with a bargepole’ default state.

But ignore me. S’pose you pay a dollar a word to put your news tweet through Muckrack. How will you monitor its impact on the blogosphere and the reactions of consumers, competitors and stakeholders? How will you know whether you achieved an ROI or not?

Fear not – well, OK, be a little fearful, because I do not have a clue and frankly don’t think it can be done, but these guys over at VMR Comms do. Blokey here is talking about Radian6, ScoutLabs and Sysomos – and I have no idea what they are or what they do, but I’d say, if you’re serious about your social, then you should be checking it out. I also check this post because it puts forward a list of questions you may need to ask before embarking on a social media monitoring gig. And they are very good questions – so good I post them here:

  • Are you looking to compare your share of voice online versus that of your competitors and track that over time using easily comprehensible metrics that can be assigned a $ value?
  • Whose voice do you want to listen to? Key influeners? General consumer sentiment? Stakeholders? Traditional Media? Male? Female? In North America or worldwide?
  • Do you need a platform that can be used in focus group fashion to slice and dice general consumer sentiment, key influencer sentiment, and or journalist sentiment?
  • Do you need to know where the fish (your prospects and key influencers) are currently swimming (“conversing”) before you dive into or create an empty pond?
  • Would you like to track how well your PR campaigns have increased share of voice specifically among key influencers or among consumers at large?
  • What about your sales and customer services teams? Are they looking for the actionable
  • intelligence that a social media monitoring platform can provide? Will the monitoring platform you choose need to integrate well with a CRM like salesforce.com?
  • Which social media “venues” are you most interested in monitoring? Blogs? Traditional News Outlets? Forums? Linkedin? Facebook? Youtube? Blogtalkradio? Podcasts? (Check out the conversation prism below to get a better sense for what’s out there)
  • If influencing the influencers is important to you, do you need a platform that helps you identify key influencers by showing you inbound links, comment count, level of engagement?
  • Is yours a global brand where you need to monitor not only key influencer sentiment but also the so-called “Long Tail” of your marketing sales curve?
  • Is your CMO demanding specific and meaningful metrics that can demonstrate a clear ROI from your social media engagement efforts?
  • If you are monitoring global brands, will you need a platform that translates content and sentiment in multiple languages?
  • Do you have the resources, expertise and social media savvy currently to fully leverage the capabilities of whatever platform is best for you?
  • How much historical data will you need? Some platforms have absolutely enormous amounts of historical data. Is that going to be helpful to your PR and marketing teams? Or not worth paying extra for?
  • What about ease of use? Do you need a platform that multiple users in your organisation will learn quickly and easily, thus increasing their level of online engagement?

Social Media – A Presence On Youmytwidioboobespace

Some time ago, I suggested the imminent coalescing of one or more social media – as the only real way that they can survive individually is by broadening their offer and thus encroaching on each other’s space. (It’s my space! No, it’s not, it’s TwinkedIn.) Just in case you’re not an avid follower of my random – but increasingly accurate – musings, you can catch up here.

Hurry up, the rest of us aren’t going to wait all day.

Right. Anyway, the point is that I’ve just received my first request though LinkedIn to be someone’s bitch follower (or was it that she wanted to be my follower?) on Twitter. Oh, but yes. The gradual merging of media has started and who knows where it will end. As an aside, I cannot see how the Twitter/LinkedIn deal is going to work – LinkedIn has already taken on some of the aspects of Facebook, as people forget that it’s a business tool and post quick updates on their musical tastes – and the culture of Twitter (the Twattish behaviour, if you like) will not mix well with the orignal culture of LinkedIn.

Be that as it may. This is the beginning – as I’ve said several times before – of the end, specifically the end of the social media free-for-all that exists now. So – if you’re a corporate, and you’re thinking of dipping your toe – perhaps even investing something in it – is now the time?

Remember Betamax. You don’t want to be Twitter-savvy, if it turns out that Wave is the future – and yes, OK, I know that’s a bit faux-naif. (Qui? Moi?)

But social media, as a business tool – marketing, comms and to a certain extent, sales – does not deliver tangible benefit. And while it’s still sorting itself out, it’s unlikely to. So curb your enthusiasm – because I know you’re just busting to get involved – and let’s see how it shakes down.

It won’t take long, mark my words……..

Social Media – Size Matters

The following excerpt is from a post about the Interbrand Top Global Brands survey, vs the Sysomos on-line presence survey – which shows how top brands are perceived in terms of social media ‘buzz’. (Horrible word, not mine.) Here you go:

“One conclusion that could be speculated based on the data from this small study is that well-established, mature brands don’t seem to need the high levels of social media buzz to sustain their value, while new and growing brands can reap great benefits from the power of a social media buzz.

Of course, this is a very small study of just the top 20 brands based on global value, so conclusions can only be hypothetical.  However, it makes sense that new and growing brands have more to gain from investing in social media advertising and branding campaigns than established or new brands do.”

While this is quite clearly a statement of the bleeding obvious, on a bit of reflection, like most statements of the bleeding obvious, it actually needs saying.

If there is any benefit in social media as a marketing tool, it is most easily accessed by small companies who a) have nothing to lose b) have everything to gain c) do not have massive organisations and overheads d) have limited employee numbers e) do not have massive marketing budgets and programmes, thus having the ability to dedicate time to social media as their sole (or major) route to market and f) will see and appreciate any ROI their activity generates. And if you reverse engineer points a to f, you’ll see why established organisations are wasting their time.

Here’s a link.

Social Media – The Other End of the World

As my regular blog snorkellers will know, I’ve not been backward in coming forward with my theory that social media is on its way out. This is for reasons too innumerable to mention here, including the fact that no-one’s making any money out of it, it’s being swamped by spam, the user growth figures are slowing, the user growth figures have never reflected the reality of the amount of people who sign up then never use the service again and – my favourite – because I say so.

There is another theory, however and in the spirit of fairness and balance, I give an iteration of it a hearing here. Clickety-clink – here’s the link!

(Can’t believe I just wrote that.)

The theory says that the traditional digital comms tools – email, websites – are themselves on the way out, to be subsumed into social media. The reasoning goes that social media provides opportunities to communicate and to provide content that email cannot – to summarise and paraphrase – email is one-dimensional and the social media are not. Same goes for the traditional, reasonably static website – why would you, really, when user-generated, arguably richer content pertaining to a brand or organisation is out there in the blogosphere, or posted on Facebook?

But then the theory trips up. I think it trips up because of the widespread inability to separate social media into its two component parts.

  • Something that people do in their spare time (and when they’re notworking, obviously) to keep up with friends and family, ask for advice on things that trouble/interest them and view/download jokes, clips, tracks, patches etc etc.
  • Something that simply is not working as a marketing, communications or reputation-building tool.

Just because individuals, in their day-to-day lives, may decide to run those lives via Facebook or Twitter or some combination of the two, does not make them valid, or valuable, business tools. Business requires communication without distractions, without logins, without a ‘spirit of community’ and – most importantly – without commentary from everyone who reads it. This is why email, as it is currently, works – for business purposes – so well. You can choose who receives it, you can monitor it and you can cane people who misuse it or try to hide their use of it. The thing that will change about email is how we send and receive it and what it looks like when we do send and receive it.

I also draw attention to the school of thought that says ‘ask a 20-year-old whether they’re using email’ as if this has any bearing on the matter. No, they’re not – they’re texting and using social media (well, some are, anyway) – but, quite frankly, who cares? Email is a business tool (and I include marketing and corporate comms within ‘business’) and 20-year-olds are a notoriously difficult-to-reach audience with limited appeal. You might as well ask an 80-year-old whether they’re using email for all the relevance it has.

And traditional, static websites – well, here’s a sensible post. Actually, there’s more of a place for traditional corporate websites that ever before – and why? Because, thanks to social media (and the way the bigger internet players are forcing us to behave – yes, forcing – Google SideWiki, anyone?) there’s such a slew of information that, ironically enough, the only place you’ll be able to go for reasonably accurate and (dare I say) impartial information will be the corporate website.

Now, I’d just like to make it clear – again, and mainly for my wife, who thinks I’m a cave-dwelling technophobe – that I am not either denying the existence of social media or telling anyone to stick their heads in the sand. Social media is here. Loads of people are using it. It is right and fitting that if we work in communications then we should have a knowledge of it. That being said – I repeat – do not confuse the social media that people use to run/ruin their personal lives and the social media that has all the potential to ruin your business (uncontrolled rumour and bad-mouthing) and none of the potential to materially enhance your revenues.

Social Media – B*ll*cks to Twitter

Better late than never. Trawling through my backlog of trade magazines, I came across an issue of Marketing from September 30. Almost a month old. I’d be a really crap journalist.

Luckily I’m not. And neither is Mark Ritson, who wrote this (to my mind) brilliant article. Mr Ritson is an ‘associate professor of marketing’ – whatever that is – and these are his thoughts on the parallel between what’s happening now with social media and what happened 10 years ago just prior to the dotcom bust. Here’s a flavour:

“If you believe the hype, Twitter is the future of media and marketing. John Borthwick, chief executive of web investor Betaworks, told the New York Times last week that Twitter ‘represents a next layer of innovation on the internet’ and that the investment was justified ‘because it represents a shift’. Ten years ago, I would have gulped, assumed I was missing something, and nodded my head at this.

“These days I am older, fatter and a good deal wiser, and I say (in fewer that 140 characters): bollocks to Twitter. And bollocks to it being worth a billion dollars.”

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

(Mind – a month is a long time in social media and Mr Ritson may already have changed his mind.)

Social Media – The End is Nigh!

In a recent post, I said I was delighted to be the first to announce the beginning of the beginning of the end of social media. Obviously, I was being provocative – and I’ve been inundated with literally no comments at all about my position.

That has not stopped me maintaining my stance, but changing it slightly. Today, blog snorkellers, I am announcing the beginning of the beginning of the end of this round of social media. That’s not to say that there won’t be more, but this lot are definitely on the way out.

Why am I taking this view? Well, partially because my gut tells me it’s true – and as you’ll all know, there’s a big school of thought that says all decisions should be made with the gut – and partially because of this.

Yes, the Times of London – if you summarise the article and extrapolate the messages – doesn’t believe it’s for real either. And the geeky types they’ve got to explain the social media thing are just trotting out the same old, same old nonsense. So, don’t listen to me if you don’t want to – but do read The Times.