COVID-19’s Impact on Millennial and Gen Z Media Habits — And How Marketers Should Pivot

Within a very short period, the way Millennials and Gen Zs buy products and consume media also has changed dramatically. And while many of these shifts — such as the changes to their media habits — can be attributed to the global pandemic, some of them may be here to stay.

Depending on their age and stage of life, the nation’s two youngest generations are getting a first taste of what it’s like to be a remote worker, home-schooling parent, or web-only shopper. Within a very short period, the way Millennials and Gen Zs buy products and consume media also has changed dramatically. And while many of these shifts — such as the changes to their media habits — can be attributed to the global pandemic, some of them may be here to stay.

“When U.S. advertisers pulled back spending dramatically in March, one of the earliest noticeable effects on the display ad market was falling CPMs (the price of 1,000 advertisement impressions on a single webpage),” eMarketer reports. Concurrently, marketers were lowering their demand for ads and consumers were spending more time on social and traditional media properties, thus increasing the supply of impressions.

“Where we’re getting the demand right now is from people who are driving sort of more online conversions, direct response, so it’s not like we’re seeing a shift of reach and frequency dollars to us,” Facebook’s Dave Wehner said in an April earnings call. “I think what we’re seeing is people who are driving the kind of direct response actions taking advantage of low prices.”

Feeling the Impact

With COVID-19 affecting all facets of everyday life, it’s no surprise that marketing is also seeing the dramatic impacts of the pandemic. And while some of the changes simply solidify what was already happening in the market, COVID is definitely adding more fuel to the fire. For example, TikTok has become a household term in a world where just a few months ago the typical parent was unfamiliar with the short-form mobile video platform — a platform that  has become a viable channel for reaching younger consumers. The youngest Gen Zs are likely getting as much socialization as possible on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, all while binging on Netflix as they wait out the COVID-19 threat and state shutdowns.

The crisis is going to change consumers across all age groups, and no one knows for certain what the total impact will be. What we do know is that the shifts are already starting to happen, as evidenced by the TikTok videos featuring parents and their children dancing together, and the fact that Instagram Stories usage is up 15% since the outbreak. These and other platforms are keeping people connected, and they’re also presenting new opportunities for marketers that need ways to reach their youngest consumers.

TikTok added over 12 million U.S. unique visitors in March, reaching 52.2 million, according to eMarketer. “TikTok has been on a growth spurt for several months, even before the pandemic,” the firm points out, adding that as of October 2019, TikTok’s app and websites had 27 million unique visitors, with the app alone accounting for 18.6 million. “But the month-to-month growth between February and March was particularly notable in comparison with previous monthly gains.”

What Are Gen Z and Millennials Up To?

In surveying Gen Z about its routines, media habits, and lives during the viral outbreak, Brainly found that most are turning to social media to pass the time and stay connected, with Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook getting the highest marks from this generation.

Here are other important, COVID-related trends that Hawthorne Advertising has been tracking internally:

  • In terms of social media, Millennials are gravitating toward Instagram and Reddit.
  • There’s also been a big uptick in Twitch usage over the last two months, with live performers among the most active participants on that platform.
  • More Millennials are using YouTube as an information source during the pandemic.
  • Zoom has emerged as the videoconferencing platform of choice for Millennials.
  • Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are popular “binge” targets for both Gen Zs and Millennials.
  • Fans of Instagram, TikTok, Hulu, and the Amazon Firestick, Gen Zs are receptive to pre-roll ads and other targeted advertising approaches on these platforms.
  • Gen Zs are also using GoToMeeting, Zoom, Houseparty, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime to stay in touch with friends and family during this period.

In assessing Gen Z and Millennials’ post-quarantine media habits and content consumption, YPulse says Netflix will be their must-watch TV platform of choice, but notes that social media content could begin cannibalizing the time these younger generations spend on streaming services.

“While streaming services are reporting massive numbers of new subscribers, our data indicates that the real winner of quarantine viewing is social media,” YPulse reports, noting that a recent survey found that 48% of 13 to 39-year-olds are watching more videos on social media during quarantine, and 40% are now watching videos weekly or more on Instagram (compared to 34% in November 2019).

Get Ready to Turn on the Dime

For marketers who are trying to wrap their arms around these shifts, the best strategy is to embrace the changes and take careful note of their pace of acceleration.

Understand that when we emerge from this crisis — whenever that occurs — you’re not going to be operating in the same world that was put on pause in early-2020. Marketers also need to consider more targeted and customized messaging, as well as dynamic creative optimization, to maximize the engagement with Millennials and Gen Z audiences.

Consider this: In a recent DoSomething survey, 75% of Gen Zs said the top action they wanted to see from brands was ensuring employee and consumer safety, with 73% wanting brands to protect their employees financially. Brands that share positive messages on social media while failing to support their staff are being noticed, Vogue Business reports. “If you’re not authentic, Gen Zs will be the first to raise a red flag. If you are trying to take advantage of the moment, you will lose them so fast.”

Educate yourself on these changes, test out some new strategies, and strap yourself in. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride filled with both challenges and opportunities, the latter of which will be most available to the companies that stay flexible and fluid enough to turn on a dime right along with their target audiences.

Tailoring Your Marketing Messages to Gen Y and Gen Z Consumers

Generation Y has been the apple of every marketer’s eye with 73 million strong, and spend a collective of $600 billion annually in the U.S. Now this group has another generation at their heels, Generation Z. And it is crucial for marketers to hone their strategy for communication with both of these generations.

Generation Y, or better known as Millennials, has been the apple of every marketer’s eye with 73 million strong, and spend a collective of $600 billion annually in the U.S. Now this group who is 24 to 39 years in age and a formidable force across all consumer markets, has another generation at their heels, Generation Z. And it is crucial for marketers to hone their strategy for communication with both Gen Y and Gen Z consumers.

As marketers continue developing and refining their Millennial-targeting strategies, they are now shifting their focus to Gen Z. This group of anyone 23 and younger is now coming to financial maturity, and consists of a massive and influential cohort made up of 65 million individuals. According to Gen Z Insights, as of 2020, this generation makes up 40% of all consumers in the U.S.

This youngest generation will soon outnumber the Millennials, and graduate from allowance-based buying power, bringing their own likes, dislikes, and opinions with them. But if there’s one thing that marketers should know about both Gen Y and Gen Z, it’s this: Don’t assume these are just huge, homogeneous groups who will respond to generic marketing messages.

The Millennial who turns 40 next year, for example, will have decidedly different media consumption and buying habits than, say, a 25-year-old who is just beginning to sort out life’s intricacies. Geography, gender, education level, income, and other individual attributes all have to be factored into the equation when targeting these broad, generational segments. Skip this step and you could find yourself wasting money, time, and energy chasing down way too large of a potential customer segment.

Apple, Xerox, and Nike have all found innovative ways to carve out specific niches within the larger context of both Gen Y and Gen Z. According to YPulse’s latest “youth brand tracker,” for example, YouTube, Nike, and Snapchat are the top three “top cool brands” for Gen Z, while Nike, Netflix, and Savage x Fenty claim the top spots for Gen Y.

Let’s dive into exploring generational segments, identifying some incorrect assumptions marketers make when tailoring their messages to Gen Y and Z, and highlighting some of the most effective platforms for getting messaging across to the nation’s two youngest generations.

Effective Platforms for Messaging Gen Y and Gen Z

Here are the main platforms that marketers use to deliver very targeted messages to Gen Y and Gen Z:

Connected TVs and Devices. This includes any TV or device that’s connected to the Internet and allows users to access content beyond what’s being shown on screen at the time. Connected advertising is an extension of the traditional TV buy that complements a brand’s existing presence on a specific platform. The connected nature of this medium allows companies to measure their reach and frequency across all devices, drill down into specific audience segments (i.e., iPhone users between a certain age range) and gain insights across the full customer journey.

Instagram. Not limited to celebrities who upload their well-posed vacation photos to the platform, Instagram’s photo-and video-sharing social network is actively used by nearly three-quarters (73%) of Gen Z adults (ages 18 to 23 years old). This presents a major opportunity for marketers who want to get their products in front of these young consumers, and who start forming bonds and creating brand awareness with these young adults early in their lives.

TikTok. A social media app where Gen Z vies for 15 seconds of fame on the small screen, TikTok is the fastest-growing social media app, with about 500 million regular users. Users post 15-second videos on the app, which is estimated to have been downloaded more than a billion times on app stores. Marketers can use TikTok to create a channel for their brands and then use it to upload relevant, engaging videos. They can also tap into the platform’s large “influencer” base and leverage it to expose their content to a broad, yet well-targeted, audience of Gen Z consumers.

YouTube. This well-established video-sharing platform has 2 billion users who log in on a monthly basis, including the 81% of American 15 to 25 years old. Among 18 to 34 year-olds, the platform is the second most-preferred platform for watching video on TV screens. With people uploading 500 hours of video every minute, the platform is pretty cluttered. Standing out and growing a YouTube channel requires a targeted approach that includes a unique channel name, a good viewing experience across all devices, calls to action (i.e., to subscribe, share videos, etc.), and incorporating the channel into emails, blog posts, and other social media posts to improve its ability to be discovered.

SnapChat. With 51% of Gen Zers viewing their generation as more creative than any of its predecessors, social apps like SnapChat give them the space they need to be creative in the digital world. They use it to create videos, share images, communicate with friends, and share moments throughout their days. Marketers can harness this platform to post their stories, push out user-generated content, and connect with influencers. For example, Taco Bell was an early SnapChat user that leveraged the platform’s storytelling capabilities to spread the word about new products.

Additional Social Media Channels. As a whole, social media has opened the doors for marketers who can creatively use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to connect with their audiences, build their brands, drive website traffic, and grow their sales. Because each platform has its own mission, goals, and user base, the companies experiencing the most success on social media are the ones that take the time to segment their audiences and use very specific targeting strategies for those consumers.

The Power of TV and Mail

In the rush to select platforms that they think Gen Y and Z naturally gravitate toward, marketers often overlook the power of TV, direct mail, and other mainstays. They wrongly assume that these channels don’t work with younger audiences, but they shouldn’t be overlooked.

In a world where Nielsen says U.S. consumers spend nearly 12 hours daily across TV, TV-connected devices, radio, computers, smartphones, and tablets, the opportunity to engage the younger generations from different angles definitely exists.

Americans aged 18 to 34 watch a daily average of just under two hours of traditional TV and spend an additional hour per day using apps and the web. Consumers aged 12 to 17 watch about an hour and a half of TV daily. Craving personalized, non-digital experiences, younger generations spend about 9.7 minutes reading mail daily (versus about 8 minutes for both Gen X baby boomers).

These numbers translate into real opportunities for marketers that take the time to segment their audiences versus just lumping them into different generational groups. Where you still need a presence on mass platforms like TikTok and Instagram, for example, the messaging itself must be customized, targeted, and experiential.

Not Just Another Number

Marketers who overlook traditional platforms just because they assume Gen Z or Gen Y can only be reached on pure digital platforms are setting themselves up for failure. That’s because both generations are obviously still digesting video content, movies, and TV series via cable, a connected TV device, or on a platform like YouTube.

Target your audience properly, customize it for that consumer group, sell that group an experience (not the product itself), and you’ll come out a winner.

Regardless of which platforms you’re using, remember that Gen Z and Gen Y aren’t cohesive, homogeneous groups. As you use geotargeting and other strategies to segment your audience, be sure to personalize your messages in a way that makes your customer feel like a VIP — and not just another number.





How to Not Waste Money on Facebook and Instagram Ads

As publishers, our relationship with Facebook is … complicated. In 2019, Facebook traffic returned for a lot of publishers, and many now consider the platform a reliable source of traffic. However, there hasn’t been much consistency in regard to Facebook’s Ads Manager platform in the last several months, amiright?

As publishers, our relationship with Facebook is … complicated.

In 2019, Facebook traffic returned for a lot of publishers, and many now consider the platform a reliable source of traffic. However, there hasn’t been much consistency in regard to Facebook’s Ads Manager platform in the last several months, amiright?

Facebook Ads Manager Continues to Evolve

First, Ads Manager was completely redesigned in July. Reviews were mixed, but overall the user-interface improved. Even still, there’s always a learning curve when getting to know a new version of an intricate platform.

In addition to visual updates, Facebook Ads Manager is a lot more complex than it was just 2 years ago. There are now 18 different placement options for ads, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, in-article, plus Facebook’s audience network — which allows you to target users off of Facebook-owned platforms and applications. Facebook clearly marks “automatic placements” as “recommended,” but this isn’t often the best selection for most advertisers — and it takes some savvy to understand which placements make the most sense for your campaign.

There’s also the various options for campaign optimization. Facebook has four different delivery optimization options: conversions, landing page views, link clicks, and impressions. More than that if you consider that there are several different ways you can define a conversion. That’s a lot of decisions to make and places where your campaign can go wrong.

Beyond the campaign criteria above, a typical marketer also has to account for varying audiences and budget optimization, along with creative and copy testing. All this is to say, it’s easy to waste money using Facebook’s Ads Manager when running campaigns on Facebook and Instagram.

Secondly, Facebook Ads Manager underwent some significant changes in November. You remember … the one right before Black Friday. Along with slight changes to the UI, these changes seem to have also placed an emphasized level of importance on a few small but key nuances in how you build and optimize campaigns.

Facebook’s Learning Phase

The learning phase is an often under-estimated way you can derail your campaign objections. As someone on our team once put it, the learning phase is “a dance more than it’s a science.”

Additionally, Facebook’s platform updates in November included “New Learning Phase Insights.” In this update, Facebook launched insights that display “the percentage of ads, ad sets and spend spent in the learning phase over the last two weeks.”

The learning phase of your campaign (the time period in which Facebook is getting to know what type of user is most likely to engage with your campaign, learning from those findings, and further refining your placements and targeting as a result) is roughly 7 days or 50 conversions. Depending on the campaign you’re running, 50 conversions can be a lot, which means most marketers have to wait those 7 days.

So what does the Facebook learning phase mean for marketers looking not to waste money? It means allowing campaigns around 7 days to start spending budget most effectively. And during that time period, any significant edits to the campaign can start that time period over from the beginning, so edit wisely!

Most of us know those impatient marketers. The ones that just can’t stop themselves from making changes to their campaign just a day or two after launch. Stop doing that! Making significant edits to the campaign before it has been live for around 7 days is a surefire way to waste your ad budget. Your campaign will start over from scratch and any lessons learned from your original campaign will not be relayed.

Since this update went live in November, campaigns can now move into a “Learning Limited” status after 7 days. According to Facebook, this happens when:

  • The bid control or cost control is too low.
  • The budget is too low.
  • The audience size is too small.
  • There are too many ad sets.
  • Other ad sets from the same ad account or Page are winning auctions instead.

Certainly use these insights to understand why a particular campaign or ad set cannot exit the learning phase, but also recognize that without paying close attention to the nuances of targeting and placements, as we discussed above, you may run ads for 7 days only to then find out that the platform can’t find enough people to engage with your campaign in the current targeting, placement, and budget allotted.

Also consider the learning phase when planning the timing of your campaigns. If you’re marketing tickets to an event and you want to really hit your audience hard in the 2 weeks leading up to your event date, you’ll spend half of that precious time with your campaign in learning mode — thus not spending your budget most effectively. To combat this, consider running an awareness campaign several weeks out from the event to allow Facebook to find audiences that will engage with your event content, and then retarget those who engaged but haven’t yet purchased tickets.

Objective Optimization of Facebook Campaigns

It’s important to evaluate your campaign objective. As mentioned above, there are more than a few campaign “objective” options you can select when starting your campaign, and each can cause the behavior of your campaign to vary wildly.

If you’re running a click-based campaign (in other words, your campaign “Objective” is “Link Clicks”), you may start to notice that you’re getting clicks, but your ultimate objective of traffic to your website isn’t being met. If this is happening, add “Landing Page Views” to your customized report and see what percentage of those clicking on the ad are actually landing on your website. Unfortunately, we’ve seen these numbers be as low as 35-40%. That means of 100 people clicking on your ad, only 35-40 are waiting long enough for the page to load.

So where did you go wrong? A campaign objective of “Link Clicks” is telling Facebook that all it takes to make you happy is clicks. Not refining your objective to “Landing Page Views” or “Conversions” means you can end up wasting a lot of money on “clicks” when, depending on your ultimate campaign objective, “clicks” don’t really mean that much.

So, consider and scrutinize your Facebook campaign objective closely. (Note: If you haven’t added the Facebook pixel to your website, you won’t have the option to optimize for Landing Page Views. Adding the pixel to your page lets Facebook see who actually results in a visit to your website.)

Running Ads on Facebook and Instagram Is Not for the Faint of Heart

Executing a campaign on Facebook is not that hard. But executing an effective and cost-efficient campaign is. With recent platform updates and an ever-changing algorithm, it takes work to stay abreast of best practices and knowing how to avoid the pitfalls of an ill-targeted or budgeted campaign.

Thoroughly plan your campaign strategy to avoid wasting money. Consider your objective, placements, and testing parameters closely. There are plenty of resources available to help you make the correct choices for your campaign. Or, get help if you need it. A strategic marketing team that can plan and execute your campaign strategy effectively is worth their weight in conversions.

An Instagram World With No ‘Likes’ — How Does the Test Impact Advertisers, Users?

Instagram made a big move. What’s the official motive behind testing a social media world with no “likes”? The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, stated in the announcement that the test in the U.S. and Canada was “about creating a less pressurized environment, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”

Instagram made a big move. What’s the official motive behind testing a social media world with no “likes”?

The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, stated in the announcement that the test in the U.S. and Canada was “about creating a less pressurized environment, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

For all intents and purposes, Instagram’s latest power move has an alibi: The platform claims to be more concerned with the well-being of its users than with making a profit. Whether or not the company’s true motives are in line with reducing mental illness in its young users — including their stress, anxiety, and depression — the test has certainly changed the way the platform operates.

Diving into the many possible outcomes of this potential change is essential for marketers and Instagram users, alike, in order to best understand what to expect from the future of social media.

Whether positive or negative, the removal of likes has garnered opinions from the masses. Feelings toward the test range from anger to animosity to excitement. The fact of the matter is, likes have been a major catalyst in the way Instagram is used and success is measured, both personally and professionally. For brands utilizing influencers for promotion, likes have acted as a currency by showing how engaged an audience is, while effectively helping brands make decisions on whether or not an influencer should endorse their product or not. Without it, the marketplace will have to be optimized by these advertisers as they uncover what’s to come on the forefront of social media marketing.

Why Instagram Users Are Angry

It comes as no surprise that many of the users who are angry fall under the influencer and celebrity category. For many of them, Instagram likes have completely built their platforms as social media stars. Many of them uncovered the amount of engagement it took from early on and were able to build a fan base of loyal likers in order to gain enough clout to start being paid for promotions. It has been hypothesized by some influencers that Instagram doesn’t actually care at all about the wellbeing of its users. In fact, while its CEO claims the company “will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s health,” others are claiming that the test goes deeper than that, and is ultimately in favor of Instagram’s business: It has been hypothesized that this is being done as a means for control.

While influencers do have a home on Instagram, the brand deals and partnerships they forge on the platform do not currently have anything in them for Instagram. Thus, the removal of likes could make it so that marketers opt to spend their advertising dollars directly through Instagram, more heavily utilizing Instagram’s advertising tools. This begs the question(s): Why would they no longer go through influencers? Can they still get a feel for the overall engagement a user has? Unfortunately, because the metrics marketers rely on when selecting influencers will no longer be visible, it may become challenging to obtain real and true metrics, as these numbers can be easily manipulated if sent over from the source.

And frankly, for some losing likes simply means stripping down and removing their online social status, and they don’t like it. The measurement of likes acts as a symbol for popularity and fame, and many have expressed their dislike toward the change because of this. Removing likes will make it harder for users to determine if someone is cool simply by measurement, and understandably, for those for which Instagram has helped shape careers, this poses a threat to their success.

Why Instagram Users Are Excited

More obviously, many Instagram users are excited; particularly younger users and their parents. Having the platform to rely on for social status and humble brags has created uncharted territory in the adolescent social scene. Likes are the most obvious cool factor when looking at a user’s profile. For regular users who peruse Instagram as a social tool and not to create a business, the pressure to depend on likes as a means of validation, a measurement of self-worth, and a ranking of social status, could completely shift the way young users post. This feeling of “not being enough” if you don’t have the most likes in your social circle is exactly what Instagram claims to be tackling head-on with this test.

But this may not just be a positive change for common users; some influencers have actually expressed their excitement and support for the change, as well. As mentioned, Instagram has evolved over the years from a simple photo-sharing tool to a space where people are constantly trying to be the very best on the scene.

Many users claim that a major shift in the way Instagram was used happened when it changed the feed from chronological order to placing the most engaging posts at the top. The reason many influencers rose to where they were when this change occurred was because people genuinely enjoyed the creative energy they were putting into their profiles. When top-engaging posts were the first thing seen upon opening the app, influencers (and regular users, alike) had to evolve with the change, if they wanted to continue to get the attention they were used to. As a result, many sacrificed their own creativity by means of posting something less original that would guarantee high engagement.

For those who have felt the need to conform to the more popular style of posts, removing likes would mean they may no longer feel constricted or bound to posting things that are guaranteed to perform well (i.e. attract enough likes to deem them relevant enough for the top of the feed). This may allow for a more fruitful array of postings from influencers, celebrities, and young users of Instagram, bringing back into the picture a sense of creative freedom and self-worth.

What It All Means for Users and Marketers, Alike

Whether or not the test is here to stay, the statement it’s made so far has shaken many of its users, and most have an opinion. From regular users — particularly those in Generation Z — to influencers and celebrities, and brands that use Instagram as part of their sales funnel, the feelings of frustration and utter glee are certainly worth evaluating as Instagram chooses how to move forward.

The Challenge of a (Really) Short-Form Direct Response Ad

It’s challenging for direct response marketers to fit all of the key elements of a good direct response ad into the space of a Facebook ad, Instagram ad, or Twitter post.

It’s challenging for direct response marketers to fit all of the key elements of a good direct response ad into the space of a Facebook ad, Instagram ad, or Twitter post.

Students in my direct marketing class at Rutgers were tasked with finding direct response advertisements in different media and detailing what made the ads direct — as opposed to general awareness advertising. Things like targeting, personalization, call-to-action, specific offer, etc.

Because their media consumption is almost exclusively online — social media, SMS, YouTube, and sometimes email, it’s not surprising that their examples showed the limitations of the media they consume.

The unlimited palette of the traditional direct mail kit, where repetition could be used to hammer home benefits and stimulate response, is all but extinct for this target audience. Even the traditional short-form, 120-second commercial has given way to shorter YouTube pre-roll ads that can be skipped after 5 seconds. (Make sure you get your main benefit and CTA out quickly.)

The examples students provided came mostly from their Instagram or email accounts, and many were limited to a simple illustration of the product, a brief description, and a “Shop Now” button. Although one student did provide a link to a classic DR spot for Flex Seal that made me laugh out loud (that’s long-form for lol). Over the course of two

direct response ad example
Credit: Chuck McLeester

minutes, Flex Seal was described as liquid rubber in a can, handyman in a can, and last but not least, the Hoover Dam in a can. There were several demonstrations, including one where the bottom of a small boat was replaced with a screen door coated with Flex Seal — no leaks, at all. This tried-and-true formula for DRTV sales doesn’t work in 280 characters; although, the ability to embed video into a tweet can overcome that limitation. The content of this short-form broadcast ad might make an interesting series of Instagram ads, but it would take four to five different episodes to include all of the content and demonstrations.

Reaching a young audience with direct response advertising is challenging, but not impossible. The best example of incorporating all of the essential elements of good direct response was provided by a female student from her Instagram feed. All of the elements are there: targeting, benefits, offer, and call-to-action — Girls Night. Delivered.

Shout out to Amazon Prime.

3 Examples of Social Media-Worthy Outdoor Advertisements

It’s important to see how social media enhances outdoor advertising and vice versa. Many companies are making their ads more “shareable” and social-media friendly. Here are three examples of social media-worthy outdoor advertisements.

Many look at the relationship between outdoor advertising and digital advertising as combative. We already know that out-of-home advertising works (here’s why). However, it is important to see the ways that the digital world enhances traditional ads and vice versa.

Think about it. New York City is the most photographed city in the world. Times Square explodes with colorful billboards and signage, both day and night. People flock to the displays, while taking pictures with their phones and sharing them on the web for the world to see. When advertisements are usually clever or visually appealing, viewers want to take pictures to share with their friends and followers.

Because of this, many companies are actually making their outdoor ads more social media-friendly and “share-worthy.” By being eye-catching, artistic or allowing for viewer participation, many advertisers are connecting traditional advertising with social media.

Here are three examples of advertisements that use social media “share-ability” to be more appealing or broaden their reach:

1. Delta Airlines x Tinder = The ‘Dating Wall’

Tinder and Delta Airlines teamed up to create the ultimate outdoor advertisement for social media use. The “Dating Wall,” located in Brooklyn, was comprised of images of popular travel destinations. The point? Audience members were meant to take selfies with one of the destinations as the backdrop and upload it to Tinder, creating a much more eye-catching “Tinder pic.” This campaign promoted both brands in a fun way that allowed viewer participation via social media.

2. Spotify’s ‘2018 Goals’

For its “2018 Goals” campaign that took place in 2017, Spotify used humor to appeal to its audience. The streaming company was able to use users’ listening habits to create a memorable series of hilarious and relatable outdoor ads. The campaign attracted both real-life and Internet attention, because they’re the perfect ad to share with a friend for a good laugh.

3. ‘David Bowie Subway Takeover’

social media-worthy outdoor advertisements

social media-worthy outdoor advertisements Bowie pic

Spotify is a champion of memorable ads. In 2018, the company set up a month-long art installation in an NYC subway station to celebrate the late David Bowie. The campaign featured both a photo-worthy portrait of the star and information about what he loved to do in NYC. Soon, photos of the art quickly popped up all over social media. This ad was especially appealing, because it made a normally mundane spot much more interesting.

Cool Tech for Content Curation, Project Management

When assessing the best tools for content curation and project management, it’s important to identify what your needs are before diving into possible solutions.

When assessing the best tools for content curation and project management, it’s important to identify what your needs are before diving into possible solutions.

Need to share reliable social media content, quickly? Try Buffer. Want to keep better tabs on your editorial and social media calendars? Experiment with Trello. Looking for a marketing automation tool to synchronize your messaging across platforms? Go for IFTTT. These tools not only enhance workflow, they help streamline team communication and collaboration.

content curation, project management

Content Curation, Social Media Scheduling Tool: Buffer

buffer-connectBuffer is useful for those with small blogs (like this) who are managing social media calendars on-the-go. One of the best features is “Content Inbox,” a source for curated content tailored to the interests of your followers. You can easily push this content to your Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Instagram accounts to keep your audiences engaged throughout the day and your messaging consistent. Visit the “Analytics” tab for more on how your posts performed and even schedule top performers to Re-Buffer at a later date.

twitter-analytics1Buffer is also useful for social media scheduling with its built-in queue. You can either set your own post schedule or let Buffer choose for you based on past user engagement data.


There’s no doubt that Buffer is essential for social media marketers, content creators and anyone else looking to take control of their many social media accounts. Give Buffer a try to keep your curated content flowing without any hiccups.

Editorial Calendar, Project Management Tool: Trello

Trello is by far the most intuitive, visual and powerful tool out there for small blog creators to keep tabs on their editorial calendar. Trello is incredibly easy to learn for any type of user (whether beginner or advanced). Create lists and then drag-and-drop cards within them to supercharge the publishing process.


Label cards, add team members and use Power-Ups to integrate with Google Drive, Twitter, Slack and more. This is incredibly important for small bloggers, as content should be strictly managed and shared with the team throughout the conceptualization process.

Trello scheduling Kia Street

We use Trello for just about everything at st-tech — including our own personal to-dos. The platform’s versatility and usability make it a must-try.

Marketing Automation Tool: IFTTT

IFTTT is a fascinating automation tool in which you can create recipes that allow communication between your devices, apps and systems via the Internet of Things (IoT). This tool is heavily used for marketing automation, as well as boosting personal productivity. The interface is simple and designing recipes is even easier now, thanks to IFTTT applets.

How to Use IFTTT

IFTTT Kia blog post tech

If This, Then That is best for those who utilize a ton of Web apps and services on a daily basis. So, how does IFTTT work? You start by selecting a recipe and turning it on. Recipes are easily programmable to fit your needs as you’re able to use “ingredients” that add custom specifications.

IFTTT Kia blog post

Crafting your own recipe is perfect for those who wish to have more targeted control over their relationship with the IoT. However, there are also tons of preset applets from IFTTT’s collections that are widely beneficial, as well.

Here are three recommendations for small bloggers using IFTTT:

  1. Use Google Calendar to keep track of your Buffer posting schedule
  2. When you create a new Trello card, add an event to Google Calendar
  3. Archive every time you’re @mentioned on Twitter to a Google spreadsheet

Whether you’re a content contributor, small blogger or community manager — these tools will help you take your content to the next level.

Which tool is your favorite? Let me know in the comments section below.

Will Millennials Fully Experience the Analog Revival?

Analog is back. It’s hip, it’s retro and it’s hot in film photography, print books and paper notebooks. But will the embrace of tactile, non-digital media among Millennials extend to music? That remains to be seen.

Analog is making a comeback
Analog is making a comeback

Analog is back. It’s hip, it’s retro and it’s hot in film photography, print books and paper notebooks. But will the embrace of tactile, non-digital media among Millennials extend to music? That remains to be seen.

Instagram shows over 3 million posts each for the hashtags #filmphotography, #filmisnotdead and #polaroid. Photo booths are popular at weddings. Young people are increasingly enamored with pictures taken on devices other than their phones, even though Instagram remains the go-to place to view and share them.

My students who have done class research projects on ebook readers have consistently found that college students prefer print books over electronic ones for classes. I’ve observed an increasing number of students using paper notebooks rather than tablet computers and laptops to take notes. Hardcover diary-type notebooks are gaining a hipster cache, and recently, I had a student enter an appointment in a paper calendar, as I remarked, “How quaint!”

A New York Times review says the new David Sax book, “The Revenge of Analog,” is “a powerful counter-narrative to the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world.” The review adds that the author contends that the analog revival “is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex.”

But while most things we can have and hold are easily accessible to Millennials, music is different. Fortune magazine reported vinyl record sales hit $416 million last year, the highest since 1988, according to the RIAA. But there are several barriers to the mass adoption of analog music, most significant of which is the need for a turntable and vinyl platters. Millennials own digital music and listen to it on portable devices through headphones, occasionally through a Bluetooth speaker. I’ve written before about the Millennial music experience being more individual than social, more like filling your ears with sound than filling a room with sound.

It’s easier for Baby Boomers to embrace analog music, because many still have their vinyl collections stored away. Marketing consultant Lonny Strum recently wrote in his blog Strumings about re-experiencing the joy of a turntable needle drop, saying “What the process of using a turntable has reminded me of is the joy of interaction/engagement with music that vinyl provided. The ‘needle drop’ (and alas the subsequent vinyl scratches) were all part of the process of listening to music. The selection of the song, the cut of the album took time and consideration, not a millisecond fast-forward that digital allows. I rediscovered the snap, crackle and pop from excessive play in past years. In fact, I instantly recall the places in songs of my 45s and LPs where the crackle, or pop existed, as if it were a key part of the song.”

EmotionsThese are the types of experiences that the Times notes in reviewing “The Revenge of Analog,”

“ … the hectic scratch of a fountain pen on the smooth, lined pages of a notebook; the slow magic of a Polaroid photo developing before our eyes; the snap of a newspaper page being turned and folded back … ”

A recent study published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society concluded that “MP3 compression strengthened neutral and negative emotional characteristics such as Mysterious, Shy, Scary and Sad, and weakened positive emotional characteristics such as Happy, Heroic, Romantic, Comic and Calm” making the case that analog music might actually be a more positive and pleasant experience.

Will Millennials and the generations who follow get to experience it?

‘What I Did on Summer Vacation …’

Happy Day After Labor Day folks! Hope you got all your barbecuing done this weekend, because now it’s back to school, back to reality and back to work. Summer hours are a thing of the past, but before you stow your flip flops, here are some of my favorite things I’ve worked on during the Summer of 2016.

Happy Day After Labor Day folks! Hope you got all your barbecuing done this weekend, because now it’s back to school, back to reality and back to work. Summer hours are a thing of the past, but before you stow your flip flops, here are some of my favorite things I’ve worked on during the Summer of 2016:

Amtrak WWTT videoA Weekly Whacky Video Series

From KFC to  Zappos’ #ImNotABox, from McDonald’s to T-Rex chatbots … this has been a busy summer of video for me. I launched “What Were They Thinking?” with our associate content editor Taylor Knight on June 3, and we have created 14 videos together (actually 16, since we did some extra work to get ahead when possible). It seems as though our audience gets a kick out them, which was my goal: to entertain while shedding some light on the good, the bad and the utterly confusing things in marketing. This past week we shot a video based on my first viewer suggestion, which was awesome to receive, and great fun to put together.

Compelling Content MemeRobert Rose Dropping Serious CM Knowledge on the TM Audience

I met Robert at the 2015 Content Marketing World (2016 CMW is going on right now, and I sadly can’t be there due to a MASSIVE client project, so ALL my content love to the some of the hardest working folks in Cleveland!) and got to see him speak multiple times throughout the event. Following that, I caught a number of his webinars and podcasts, and knew that the opportunity to work with him myself was high on my 2016 to-do list. Well, during this past June’s Intergrated Marketing Virtual Conference, I did just that, moderating his session, “The Content Show That Never Ends: Repurposing Like a Media Company.” Not only did I get to use song lyrics from Emerson, Lake and Palmer in my intro of this wonderfully smart dude, but he broke down repurposing content in a way I hadn’t thought of before. The virtual show is still available on-demand, but only through Sept. 27, so register and CHECK IT OUT!

Snapchat fear memeInsta Stories Being Easy Like Whoa

I know, I know … I shot a video back in the spring about how whoo-hoo, look how easy Snapchat is! I created an account for Sass Marketing … and then barely did anything with it because it was such a headache. Then Instagram Stories came along, I rolled my eyes, but then sat down and wrote a Pros and Cons list about the newest Insta feature (you know, an app I use CONSTANTLY) and decided, okay … maybe this could work for me. Then Taylor shot this fantastic video breaking it all down, and well, I highly recommend watching it:

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I got access to Instagram Stories in mid-August, and I have to say, I’m a fan … personally and professionally … which leads me to this:

Sass Marketing Facebook PageThere’s More Sass on Social!

That’s right … there’s now 200 percent more sass out there on the interwebs (I think … math and I don’t get along). I launched a Facebook Page AND an Instagram account in August because I didn’t want to keep hijacking our brand accounts. So find me in both those spots to get behind the scenes photos and videos from my “What Were They Thinking?” shoots, random photos of my desk and whatever other antics I get up to.

What fun things did you work on this summer? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Instagram Stories Pros and Cons

Last week Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, and like most new digital things, the Internet erupted into the usual yelling debate about new things like: “Instagram ripped off Snapchat!” and “Instagram Stories is waaaaay better designed than Snapchat!”

Instagram Stories MemeLast week Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, and like most new digital things, the Internet erupted into the usual yelling debate about new things:

“Instagram ripped off Snapchat!”

“Instagram Stories is waaaaay better designed than Snapchat!”

“Ugh. Another feature.”

And so on.

Oh, and Facebook is now testing selfie filters, à la Snapchat. Snapchat’s like the sister with all the good clothes that keep getting filched.

I may be only 34, but there are days when I feel like I’m 82 in regard to new features on things I already use, and feel like I use pretty well. And originally, this post was titled “Instagram Stories, Get Off My Lawn.”

No, really:

Blog post in WordPress back officeBut then, like a good blogger, I took a little time to do some reading, and, well, my opinion — much like the Battering Ram ride at Busch Gardens — has swung to and fro a bit.

So here are my thoughts, in a classic Pros and Cons list. Because if a P&C list can help me determine if I should date someone who loves Phil Collins and owns a lot of plastic sheeting, it should help me come to a conclusion about Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories Pros

Marketers have been using Instagram successfully for awhile now, and it has a wider reach than Snapchat.

• It is way easier to find and follow people on Instagram, compared to Snapchat.

• I personally use Instagram constantly, and I could set up another account professionally for Sass Marketing with ease. Snapchat? Not so much.

• The design is cleaner and easier to understand, which means there will be fewer people saying they’re afraid to use it (unlike Snapchat).

• The stories won’t be in your Instagram feed. Instead, when someone you follow posts a story, a ring will appear around their profile photo. You can then either check it out, or ignore it.

• You can hide a story from anyone you don’t want to see it, without having to make your account private. You can even hide stories from people who actually follow you (Whoo-hoo! You can keep your aunt from creeping on you!)

• I always wanted to be able to draw laser beams coming out of my cat’s eyes.

Instagram Stories Laser-Eye Cat

Instagram Stories Cons

• Seriously, what is the deal with people wanting stuff to disappear after 24 hours? Is there something about hour 24 when you realize, “Oh god … I have made a MISTAKE!”?

• Even though Instagram didn’t do anything wrong (you can’t copyright an idea), it still comes off as a little lame to not only use almost exactly the same idea, but to not even bother renaming it. Or as Jack Brody, a product designer at Snapchat put it:

Wow … I can’t think of any other cons, aside from my general crankiness over new features that I don’t feel like using, but with Instagram Stories, you don’t HAVE to use it. You can completely ignore it, as well as the stories of other.

All right, fine. With my Pros and Cons list being a solid 7 to 2, I get the picture. Though I’m reserving the right to claim “cool” or “lame” until I actually have access to Instagram Stories.

In related news … dang Hubspot … you released a guide on how to use Instagram Stories TWO DAYS after the feature’s launch. It’s taken me this long to get cranky enough to write this post (mind you, I publish every Tuesday). Teach me your ways, oh Orange and Sassy One.