Sunday, December 26, 2010

Generalizations about Generations

When I read this report from Mediapost a few days ago, it made me a little preturbed. I am 51. I am supposed to love my TV according to the fact that I am a BabyBoomer.

I was thinking the other day that if I had to give up Television of the Internet, I could easily say good bye to the Boob Tube.

But then again I've never been completely identifiable by the generalizations of generations.

So, as you read this piece about Generation Y, remember that these are not absolutes. Not all 20 year olds are on Facebook, not all Boomers are wearing Depends....

Gen Y Really Does LIKE Your Brand -- You Can Bet Your 2011 Budget On It

As 2010 winds down, two telling pieces of news broke last week that highlight the influence Generation Y had on the social media explosion of 2010: Mark Zuckerberg was named Time magazines's Person of the Year and L2, a think tank that focuses on digital innovation, released a study that dives into the media consumption of the affluent members of Gen Y.

There has already been an enormous amount of reporting and analysis on Zuckerberg's latest accolade, so I won't belabor the various and often conflicting story angles. What's mind blowing is seeing the creator of Facebook -- a member of Gen Y who has completely upended the ad industry -- on the cover of Time. And the findings in the L2 study, though not as earth shattering so much as confirming what most of us already know, contain some surprising stats worth factoring in when planning your 2011 marketing strategy and budget allocation.

The link between these two stories? Facebook, of course.

The Gen Y study focuses on media consumption and, in most of the research, ties this consumption back to Facebook. Eighty-one percent of the affluent Gen Y audience uses Facebook multiple times a day. What is even more enticing about this generation and their Facebook usage is their affinity towards brands and eagerness to "like" them.

Over three-quarters of the respondents "like" a brand and one-quarter of them have developed a "brand crush" through Facebook. Who wouldn't want their target audience to have a crush on their brand, and could you ask for anything more from your marketing dollars? The lesson here is to get your brand "liked" on Facebook and spend your money and your time doing it. But how?

That is where some of the additional statistics found in this research become very compelling, specifically regarding the consumption of the various media. Second to social or Facebook usage is Gen Y's devotion to reading blogs.

"If baby boomers are the TV generation, then Gen Y is the blog generation," the study reported. What's beautiful about blogs is they too are designed to be social in that they typically encourage comments or interaction. What this means for you is that as you are allocating your 2011 marketing dollars in an effort to boost your "likes" on Facebook, blogs should be at the top of the list. We find the most successful campaigns that run on our site encourage some type of social interaction or engagement.

This aligns with all that we know about Gen Y and is reinforced in this research -- Gen Y likes to share their opinion and showcase themselves and their views. The blog world is not about the authoritative voice of traditional media but more of an inclusive platform that prompts discussions and allows people to give their opinion. Use blogs to start the conversation and ensure that there is a mechanism for them to "like" your brand.

Something else that emerged in this research worth noting is the massive growth of video and mobile. For us in the marketing world, this isn't news. However, what struck me as interesting is the combination of the two: of those who responded, one in eight reported watching a video on a mobile device in the past 24 hours -- an impressive number that I imagine will only grow in 2011.

The message: dedicate money toward emerging platforms such as video and mobile. Take time to understand the consumption of these products and partner with publishers who can develop unique solutions combining these assets. Then, of course, make sure you can "like" your brand via mobile device or video.

Twenty ten was an eye-opening year for all of us in the marketing world. As social media rose, we gained knowledge and understanding of the space -- and learned how to work both within it and outside of it. But of all that stood out, perhaps what was most meaningful was the naming of Mark Zuckerberg as the Person of the Year and renewed understanding that "like" on Facebook now holds more weight than any click-through.

Kristine Shine is VP of PopSugar Media (, a division of Sugar, Inc., which provides content and social media for Gen Y women. She is responsible for helping marketers forge a trusting relationship with Y Women through PopSugar's sites. Follow her on Twitter.

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