An article in Sunday's NYTimes profiles 'older' members of the Millennium Generation (those born between 1980-2000) to remind advertisers (& social marketers and health communicators) that the choices in using digital media continue to fracture target audiences and present new challenges for capturing their attention [A Generation Serves Notice: It's a Moving Target].
Karell Roxas, 24, a senior editor at Gurl.com, begins each day in her Williamsburg, Brooklyn, apartment with a diet of Gmail, Hotmail, work e-mail, NYTimes ("I haven't picked up a print newspaper in forever," she says) and blogs, in that order. She says it is a necessary regimen for maintaining a functional dialogue both at work and in her circle of friends.
The usual pattern of statistics are reviewed for this group, many of which I've posted on before, and include the preference for text messaging over either email or IM for peer2peer communication, and the heavier use of blogs (nearly 80%). One of the interesting aspects of these trends in media usage are the sociological effects - and their implications for advertising and marketing programs:
The preceding generation may have thought that e-mail, newsgroups, Web forums and even online chats accelerated the word-of-mouth phenomenon. They did. But they are nothing compared with the always-live electronic dialogue among millions of teenagers and 20-somethings.
For the millennials..."reliance and trust in nontraditional sources - meaning everyday people, their friends, their networks, the network they've created around them - has a much greater influence on their behaviors than traditional advertising."
Magid calls it the peer-to-group phenomenon - a digital-age manifestation of the grapevine.
"When someone wants to share it, forward it, record it, take a picture of it, whatever the case may be, that puts it into a form of currency," Mr. McKenzie said. "And when marketing gets to a level of currency, then it has achieved nirvana status."
Meaning that the challenge for marketers is how to create peer2group exchanges that feature their brands, products, services and behaviors The question is no longer "what motivates someone to change" but rather "what motivates someone to share something they find intrinsically useful and valuable with their most trusted friends and colleagues?" And of course: what makes something useful and valuable to them to begin with? We need to become more focused on not just behavior change outcomes for individuals, or environmental and policy changes, but social network changes that guide and support our efforts both up and down the river.