As a technology and social media evangelist, I regularly recommend that my clients explore using technology and social media platforms to reach niche audiences, by employing the medium used by these audiences. Invariably, services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and their progeny feature prominently in my discussions.
With the ever-increasing number of users, and the development of widgets and other technologies, like Tweetdeck, which enable users to access platforms on-the-go, social media services are becoming inextricably intertwined in the way many of us live our lives.
Conventional wisdom dictates that the younger you are, the more familiar you are with advancements in technology, and the more readily you adopt them. Conversely, the older you are, the more out of touch you are when it comes to technology and social media platforms.
Take me, for example. I’m fairly adept at texting, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. But when compared to my 21 year old brother, I’m a sloth, groping blindly to grasp the nuances and intricacies these platforms have to offer. I figured that my little microcosm reflected the real world. However, as of recent, my assumption has been turned on it’s head.
You see, this weekend, I spent some time with my nieces, students at Spellman, and I was amazed to learn their perspective when it came to their use of, and familiarity with technology and social media platforms.
My older niece is a texting monster. Every few seconds, her Blackberry Curve is buzzing. She regularly engages in multiple conversations simultaneously. With many of her friends far away at their respective homes, texting became their main form of communication.
She loathes Facebook and Twitter, as unnecessary invasions of privacy. She sees no purpose in posting every intimate detail of one’s life online and believes that it gives strangers (i.e. friends of friends) access to information that they would otherwise not be privy to if they didn’t know you personally. Her younger sister, also an avid texter, is similarly Facebook and Twitter averse.
Both of them regaled me with stories of the various ‘beefs’ raging on Facebook, caused by one person posting a status update or picture that offended another. They narrated one instance in which the reputation of one Spellman student was put on full blast, because people she had friended, engaged in a smear campaign using the viral nature of the platform to spread misinformation about her.
This lack of privacy and ease for abuse has made many, like them, very Facebook averse. So while Facebook and Twitter are all the rage for some, for others, not so much.
As this little insight into social media from my nieces demonstrates, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And while brands may have different concerns from college students, many of the issues they face will be similar.
Knowing which nodes to tweak to reach which person becomes invaluable as user preferences differ widely. The digital and social media marketing mix employed by brands should be designed to tap into the digital spaces in which folks naturally congregate.
At the end of the day, I encourage my clients to jump, feet first, into the technological/social media fray, because you can’t have a dialogue with folks, if you don’t speak the language.