Image Courtesy of Social Media Week
Recently staffers from the Digital Leadership Team attended sessions at the Social Media Week in New York City. One of the sessions, 5 Ways Millennials’ Habits are Changing: How Content is Made and Shared, was a panel discussion with Megan Berry from RebelMouse, Markham Nolan from Vocativ, Adam Ostrow from Mashable, Rich Antoniello from Complex Media, Chris Altcheck from PolicyMic and Samantha Skey from SheKnows. It drove some interesting discussions and we’d love to share our top takeaways.
Official Hashtag: #SMWMillennials
1) Ditch ads and think branded content
Millennials are used to being bombarded by new content and they’ve gotten really good at ignoring ads. They don’t click them and they don’t remember them. The solve? Try branded content – it appears in-stream, which is critical, and it can work just as well on desktop as it does on mobile. Just make sure that consumers know the content is branded (or sponsored) and keep it authentic.
2) Non-traditional sources and new news
One of the misconceptions brought up during the panel was that Millennials don’t care about traditional news sources. The truth is that they do — they just don’t turn to traditional media as a primary source because they want news before it reaches mainstream media. They’ve adopted social network streams as their main news source.
3) Know your platforms and choose your battle
Millennials are native experts on every social platform and they’ve been conditioned to expect a wealth of options online. They adapt quickly, which means brands need to be nimble. Since the barrier to entry is so low in social it’s harder to stay on top. While you shouldn’t be on every platform, don’t depend on just one either, or your business would suffer if it went away. Be willing to reinvent yourself.
4) Know how to package content
When producing content, always keep in mind the device the content will be viewed on and what the user experience is. The type of media people consume on the go via mobile can be quite different from what they would at home on a desktop. Think of mobile as “lean in” and desktop and “lean back.” For example, watching video on a mobile is not the best user experience, so unless the content is super timely content, many prefer to watch on a desktop. Also, be mindful when pushing consumers to apps, as this barrier might interrupt their experience and turn them off.
Image Courtesy of Social Media Week
At the recent NYC Social Media Week conference, I was lucky enough to land a seat in one of the most popular sessions of the week, a keynote speech and discussion by the CEOs of Upworthy, a site dedicated to bringing to light issues and topics that matter. In 2013, more than 286 million unique visitors visited Upworthy. The socially conscious site has shed light on global problems, curating content from across the Internet and delivering it in a streamlined, user-friendly site. They have inspired a community to both care about and act to solve these problems.
Getting people to care and act is no easy feat and there is much we can learn from Co-CEOs Eli Pariser and Peter Koechly of Upworthy on how brands can drive meaningful conversation. “It’s simple,” Pariser maintains, somewhat tongue in cheek. “It only takes 5 steps.”
1. What’s Trending Isn’t Always What’s Important: Brands trying to push through the clutter to reach fans should use caution when jumping on trends that aren’t necessarily important to their readership. Instead, stick with trends that are aligned to your mission.
2. Metrics for Success: Upworthy boasts more than 5 million attention minutes per day. If you’re more comfortable with clicks, page views, and unique views, Pariser suggests you reconsider your metrics. Brands often focus on getting eyeballs on a page, but it’s more important to hold attention once they’re there.
3. Get Out Your Checklist: Pariser shared that in a study, only four percent of a million-person sample had read 10 substantial news articles over three months. That number isn’t necessarily shocking. Think about it. Often news is presented in such a displeasing way it’s easier to turn off the TV, close the newspaper, exit out of the browser and ignore it all. The antidote according to Pariser? Make sure your content is compelling, hopeful, emotional, and important. Everything needs to have an energy, Koechly adds, and while content can incite anger or passion it can not be dispirited, directionless, or confusing, or a brand risks consumers turning away.
4. Data Support What Creativity Drives: Once you’ve garnered attention, the next steps are gathering data and moving forward with a creative strategy that continues the momentum. The heart of everything is editorial judgment and creativity, Koechly stresses, but a brand needs data to effectively guide that creative intuition.
5. Don’t Simply Look, Ask: Finally, don’t overlook your audience as a resource. Pariser announced that in 2014 he wants his Upworthy community to have more of a voice in directing the editorial calendar for the site. Brands should follow suit, by asking consumers what they would like to see and subsequently giving them more of what they want to help ensure a stronger, more meaningful relationship between the brand and the consumer.
Upworthy’s meteoric rise reflects a changing tide in social media where the headline, “Girls Don’t Run the World. But They Should” is just as captivating and matters just as much to consumers as “What Downton Abbey character are you?” Brands that follow Upworthy’s strategy will be well-suited for the changing landscape of social media, hopefully achieving Upworthy’s goals of inspiring consumers not just to care but to act.
This year’s ePharma Summit continued to bring out the best and brightest of the industry to share successes, exchange best practices, and talk about some of the new opportunities that exist where the worlds of digital and healthcare meet.
An exciting technology that presents lots of opportunity for Pharma is wearables. These devices, which range from the almost ubiquitous FitBit, Jawbone, and Nike Fuelband, all the way to Google Glass and the Google contact lens that can detect glucose levels in tears, have been around for a few years, but are really starting to become more mainstream. They were all the rage at the Consumer Electronics Show, too. Wearables are turning people into data centers, with a constant stream of information generated daily. Pharma is in a unique position to help make that data meaningful for patients, doctors and research.
While the future value of wearables in healthcare are yet to be fully realized, ZocDoc took a stab at predicting the future:
Wearable tech – An infographic by the team at ZocDoc
At the ePharma Summit there was lots of speculation about the use of wearables– and the data they generate– in health management, adherence, insurance and treatment. While the verdict is out on how to capitalize on this data and technology, this is an area that MMC, and all of Pharma, is going to be following closely. It represents an area for the courageous Pharma executive to lead.
Image courtesy of TIME magazine
Last week, I attended a small dinner party consisting of several fellow members of the Boomer generation and one Millennial. In a room full of marketers who are hard-wired to think in demographics, the conversation eventually turned to the subject of Millennials and a lively conversation ensued as we debated the oft cited labeling of “entitlement” as it relates to this generation.
The overwhelming mood of the room tended toward a judgment similar to this recent piece in the New York Times, that indeed Millennials do consider themselves entitled, due in large part to a generation of parents who constantly rewarded them regardless of their accomplishments. The theory goes that this has resulted in a belief that the world was not only their oyster, but that pearls abounded only for their plucking. For this reason, my friends proposed, the economic crisis and the resulting lack of job opportunities have left this hapless and spoiled group of young people rudderless and disappointed by a world that promised them the moon and ended up delivering a somewhat smelly lump of Swiss cheese well past its prime.
While I agreed that between the recession, escalating loan payments and limited job options Millennials have indeed been delivered a future filled with challenges, I had to dissent at the idea that this resilient generation isn’t boundlessly capable of overcoming obstacles. To prove my point, I referenced my nine nieces and nephews who fall smack within the Millennial demographic. I’ve spent the last 30+ years enjoying watching them learn, grow and eventually go out to find their way in the world. It’s fair to say that each one of them shared the Millennial ideal that the world belongs to them, but far from making them complacent, they have each shown remarkable skill and creativity in not only achieving but excelling in careers that they started planning from the time they were in middle school, overcoming any obstacles with humor and tenacity. They’ve made their way across the country, from New York to Chicago to Colorado to Texas and whenever I’m facing a challenge where I need to understand Millennials better, it’s been terrifically valuable to tap not only them, but their friends and colleagues in a wide variety of fields.
While this n. of nine can hardly be considered a comprehensive focus group, I’m also exposed on a daily basis to MMC Millennials who continually impress me with their entrepreneurial spirit and determination to deliver their best work on behalf of our clients. Again, nothing stands in their way.
So as I work with client teams to develop programming to market to this difficult to reach generation that eschews traditional marketing techniques, I wonder – just who are we trying to tap into? Are we reaching out to a self-involved group who needs pampering and rewarding in order to be engaged, or a creative group of self-starters looking to be challenged to show just what they’re made of? The truth is, no generation can be defined by any one thing. As marketers, we need to strive to take a broad view of all the things that make them who they are. So in the spirit of embracing variety, when I consider engaging this elusive generation, I’ll continue to seek inspiration from a financial planner, an auto engineer, an English teacher, a telecommunications specialist, a sales executive, a filmmaker, a packaging designer, a climbing instructor and an animator. They haven’t let me down yet.
PR events – I’m sure you’ve either planned one or attended one. While the old PR events consisted of a standard PowerPoint presentation and printed press materials (yawn!), these days it’s all about the experience. In fact, a successful strategic experiential marketing campaign can drive word of mouth, trial and ultimately influence purchase decisions.
As PR professionals, we’re constantly asking ourselves “How can we make the experience better for our target (whether media or consumers)?” See below for some tips – the MMC way.
- Tie the event back to your campaign idea: Whether “whiffs,” hair color or tampons, make sure the campaign idea is front-and-center.
- Have a Clear Call-To-Action: What do you want consumers/editors to walk away from your event doing? This needs to be clear and concise.
- Make it Interactive: Give your audience something to talk about by making your event fun and relevant. What appeals to your target? Are they sports obsessed? Allow them to engage with their favorite sports hero. Do they have a passion for fashion? Bring the catwalk to the sidewalk. Want editors to test your product? Allow them to get hands-on right then and there!
- The Devil’s in the Details: Make sure to map out all of the logistics ahead of time. It’s important to think through an event from the perspective of the target (whether consumer, media or both). How many people can you cycle through per hour? What kind of wait do you anticipate? Will brand ambassadors be on-site to answer questions, provide samples, enter consumers into sweeps/encourage them to sign-up? What if it rains? Where’s the nearest restroom or green room?
- Make the Most of your Media Moment: For media, the big thing is obviously the media moment. Determine what you want them to cover and make sure you can convey it in a single image with a concise headline. If you can’t deliver this, neither can the media.
- Be Nimble: Most event planners would agree to this, I’m sure. No event is perfect – be prepared to make a last minute change or two (i.e., having to move locations because of the Easter Bunny!) and have contingency plans in place.
- Get Social: Leverage new (and old) social media channels (i.e., Vine) to create assets that can immediately be shared out during your event to create buzz and drive awareness.
A recent survey revealed that the majority of marketers believed “experiential marketing builds consumer relationships for the long term.” What do you think?
To sell clothes. Right? Easy to forget, amid the front row feuds (bitch-slapping even!), celeb sightings, incessant Instagramming, air-kissing, marketing stunts and backstage bragging rights status updates. We *heart* following all of the above, but let’s look at the bigger picture.
As someone behind-the-scenes at Fashion Week for almost a decade—as WWD’s beauty correspondent covering Milan backstage, to working with Aveda or Wella or with Olympus as sponsor—here’s my Fashion Week take…this year from the outside looking in.
Fashion’s Night Out—are we selling yet?
Created in 2009 to drive commerce and remind consumers that retail purchases help fuel and support the industry, it’s grown into such a circus that many residents in areas like Soho and the W. Village stay locked inside their apartment. Energy is high, crowds are thick to the point of suffocating, but were sales up? Several articles have questioned whether anyone’s buying, but I haven’t seen concrete evidence either way.
It’s sooooo commercial…
Well, sure, isn’t that the idea? But has it become so commercial that it stifles creativity (and will that affect sales)? As usual, the New York Times penned its semi-annual stories on Fashion Week commercialization. Typically, these range from last September’s poetic “Tents, but No Circus” where Guy Trebay posits that the “increasingly industrialized Fashion Week now lacks is a certain giddy excitement,” to a review this year—by Cathy Horyn—wondering what happened to the free spirited creativity that usually shines with beginning-of-the-week designers.
According to the Times, even the last bastion of true creativity—street style, which is still everywhere—has lost its authenticity due to brand “partnerships.” What used to be spontaneous snapshots of inspirational and unique style mash-ups are now as choreographed as any photo shoot. But these types of immediate and online activations provide real-time and trackable results, and also allow brands to reach those who are actually shopping.
Out with the Old, Evolve with the New
For several years, fashion pundits have noted a “Split Personality”; one juxtaposing young energy with the old guard (perhaps best summed up in this great shot of “besties” Anna Wintour and Nicky Minaj from last season). Same thing for how clothes actually sell. On one hand, via traditional retail buyers, and on the other, with forward-thinkers like Moda Operandi and, now, Topshop, who are pre-selling fashion right off the runway (just yesterday, Topshop Unique live-streamed its show and made up to six pieces available in custom colors available in 6 weeks. Or, order makeup from the looks to arrive in 48 hours). You could think of this evolution as Fashion Darwinism – but instead of survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the most forward-thinking. Like, for example, the recent collaboration/partnership between creative online retailing renegade Yoox.com and French luxury goods group PPR. According to Pambianco News (my former employer), through the joint venture, PPR brands will have access to Yoox’s highly automated and global technological platform, and will benefit from Yoox’s international presence. Bien joué.
There’s been much buzz around Hurricane Isaac’s impact on the GOP convention. The question of whether or not to proceed with an event in the midst of a looming storm is one we PR folks frequently face. And although PR pros have the power to persuade many influencers, unfortunately Mother Nature is not among them.
Picture this. For months your firm has been painstakingly planning a consumer/media event featuring an A-list celebrity. Two days prior to the big event weather forecasters predict a blizzard in your city, making it clear that your event cannot go on as scheduled. This is the “perfect storm” of event nightmares – and yes, it happened to us! But with some thoughtful pre-work, scenario-planning and a little resourceful trouble-shooting we pulled off a great event by connecting with our talent via Skype, arranging transportation for nearby media and enlisting street teams to help drive consumer attendance.
The key is to be as prepared as possible and always have a backup plan. A few elements to consider when deciding whether or not to cancel your event due to bad weather:
- Talent: Can we get the spokesperson to the venue? If not, can we reschedule their time? If no, will they participate virtually? The success of your event hinges largely on your spokesperson’s participation so this needs to be ironed out before you tackle the other challenges.
- Vendors: Always build a clause in your contracts to address inclement weather and how your event vendors and venue can work with you if the weather turns bad.
- Attendees: Whether your target is media, consumers or Aunt Martha and the cousins, it’s not much of a gathering without guests. Consider whether it is safe for them to travel. If their original mode of transportation is no longer an option, can you help to provide alternate means? If not, consider a virtual event.
- Insurance: If you’re scheduling an event in Colorado in the winter or a function in Florida during hurricane season, weather insurance is something to consider. This can at least cover the cost of extending hire of equipment, venue and staffing.
Bottom line, Isaac is yet another reminder of the importance of contingency planning in your event and overall PR strategy. Your Plan B can’t just be an afterthought; it has to be part of your Plan A!