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.





Never Drink and Change Your Password

It all started when I got a new phone. The AT&T rep assured me that all my data would be transferred to my new device by just “bumping” my old Galaxy against my new one. Yeah, right.

It all started when I got a new phone. The AT&T rep assured me that all my data would be transferred to my new device by just “bumping” my old Galaxy against my new one.

Yeah, right.

Two HOURS later, I left the store with my email and phone working properly, but I needed to find my password list in order to log into all my other apps. Fair enough.

With that accomplished, I was back to my daily rituals: Posting to Facebook and Instagram, playing Words with Friends, and posting and following on Twitter. My life seemed back to normal.

But last weekend, disaster struck.

I was at a wedding and the mother-of-the-groom suggested we Snapchat as the bride had created her own geofilter … a perfect way to create memories that celebrated her special day. Unfortunately, it seems I had not tried logging into Snapchat with my new device. And, since there was no way I could remember my password, I had to click on “reset.”

You would think I was trying to reset the password to my account in the Cayman Islands!

First, a series of photos appeared and asked me to click on those where “NO” vehicles appear. Ummm … you’d think that would be easy, but after a couple of glasses of champagne, it was not so much. I looked carefully at all the images and clicked as directed. It seems I was mistaken, as another set of images appeared and asked me to use different criteria to select the images. I tried again.

The next set of images and instructions felt like Snapchat was simply mocking me. I told the mother-of-the-groom to continue her socializing at another table and swing back to mine, as I desperately tried to pick the correct images that matched the criteria.

Third time is NOT the charm, as I snorted with disgust at a new set of visual requirements.

To be honest, the rest of the process is a bit of a blur as my husband took the device out of my hand and said he’d do it … but first he had to find his cheaters to see the screen clearly.

A few more minutes pass and he’s still not able to pass the verification tests, but eventually we were able to get to a reset screen. Whew! I choose a password and the first answer I get from Snapchat is “Sorry, you can’t use a password that you’ve used before.”

So now I am wracking my brain to think of a password that:

  • Seems logical to me,
  • I haven’t used before and
  • I’ll remember the next morning.

I finally make my selection, log into my account, call over the mother-of-the-bride, find the geofilter and post our picture. But the nightmare is far from over …

You guessed it. The next day, when I try to log into my Snapchat account, I can’t remember the password … and my journey to recovery starts all over again. Call me crazy, but does the system to recover your password need to be so complex — especially on a harmless app like Snapchat? Should I be fearful that someone is going to hack in and send embarrassing pictures of themselves under my name to my kids?

I understand the need for user name and password security. And I understand these apps are trying to ensure it’s not a bot hacking the system, but there has got to be a better way. Maybe the Russians have a solution … Just sayin’!

There’s Nothing Sexy About Email

I get pitches constantly — that’s the nature of this gig — and a recent one for an email infographic caught my eye. The subject line was cute, claiming email looked sexy for its age. Email is 46 years old … and in my opinion, it’s looking a little rough around the edges.

I get pitches constantly — that’s the nature of this gig — and a recent one for an email infographic caught my eye. The subject line was cute, claiming email looked sexy for its age.

Email is sexyEmail is 46 years old … and in my opinion, it’s looking a little rough around the edges.

Now don’t get me wrong, email is a workhorse. But it’s a workhorse that most of us dread, or are addicted to, or dread our addiction to it. Frankly, almost all of us have a complicated relationship with email.

And our inboxes? Talk about unwanted bloat. How many times have you or a colleague cheered triumphantly when reaching Inbox Zero … just to have a flood of pointless communiqués fly in and muck everything up again?

Sometimes it feels like Email is an overly dressed cougar at the bar, scanning the crowd for some young hottie. But time and time again, Email comes up against Slack, social media, and the countless other mobile messaging apps (those seriously seem to spawn at freakishly high rate).

And well, those other communication forms seem to win out, more than often. Email is what you send to your boss … to your parents. But in the world of Snapchat, Tinder and WhatsApp, well that’s how you’re contacting your BFF or weekend hookup.

Barnie textingWow … that analogy really went there.

Bottom line: Don’t say Email is hip, fun and sexy because you’re trying to say 46 is hip, fun and sexy. We don’t need to be told that (duh, it’s obvious), and honestly, the comparison falls flat because Email just ISN’T.

Ray Tomlinson may have sent the first email in 1971 (followed by Gary Thuerk sending the first mass marketing email in 1978), but I don’t think we’re going to find a replacement anytime soon — especially for work purposes. That said, I wonder where our customers are going to be in five years, and how they’ll want to be contacted. We’re already seeing a shift now with mobile and social … so what’s next?

You tell me marketers! And in the meantime, I’m going to prep for my birthday this week and read a few more hundred emails.

The Spectacle That Is Snap Inc.’s Spectacles

On Saturday, Snapchat dropped news that has a fairly big impact, announcing its new name: Snap Inc. The reason for the change is that it views itself as a camera company, that has created Snapchat and Spectacles. Oh yes, Spectacles was the second thing that Snapchat, oops I mean Snap Inc., dropped on Saturday.

On Saturday, Snapchat dropped news that has a fairly big impact.

Snap Inc AnnouncementThe reason for the change is that it views itself as a camera company, that has created Snapchat and Spectacles. Oh yes, Spectacles was the second thing that Snapchat, oops I mean Snap Inc., dropped on Saturday.


Now, we know how I feel about wearables … nine times out of 10 I don’t see their point and find them to be just another gadgetry fad. But then I feel like a cranky marketing grandma yelling at the new cool stuff to get off my lawn. And I’m too young for that. So instead of immediately rolling my eyes, let’s take look at Spectacles before any knee-jerk reactions.

Spectacles Look Cool

I’m a big fan of awesome eyewear, and I enjoy the shape of these rounded specs with a keyhole bridge and the faintest hint of a cat eye. The colors are fun, and I like the mirrored tint to the lenses, too. So … yay for looking cool? But what about people like me, who have to wear glasses or bump into furniture forever? It seems like Spectacles may only be for the visually-able, or at least folks who have contact lenses (but I’m also sure that’s no different than Google Glass, and well, Google Glass looked decidedly uncool).

The Eyewear Records Circular Video

Video is recorded through a 115-degree-angle lens that more closely matches the eyes’ natural field of vision, and when viewed on a device, plays in full orientation:


This makes for a seamless viewing experience, and I agree with Ernest Ojeh’s tweet: It is a well-executed idea.

Consider the Creative Possibilities

Heard of the Sickhouse? It’s the first feature-length film that was recorded entirely … you guessed it … on Snapchat. And musician Ingrid Michaelson recorded a music video back in April using the app, as well. So there’s a great possibility that film makers might sport Spectacles to produce more found footage-style films, as well as films that put the viewer into the center of the action. And with a price tag of $130, these novelty sunglass-styled recording devices may bring the barrier to entry down a bit for budding film makers who are willing to play around with the format.

But I Think I’ll Pass …

All that said … I’m not in love with Spectacles, and I think the reason why is summed up beautifully by this post from Tech Crunch titled “The hopes and headaches of Snapchat’s glasses”:

When something special happens, today most people bust out their phones rather than bask in the moment. Fans in the front row destroy their chance to connect with their rock star heroes by thrusting a phone between them. Then, people divorce themselves from the action while they stare down, editing their content with filters and captions before sharing.

Now, the Tech Crunch article does go on and say that between Snapchat’s Memories (which allows you to record, and then edit later) and Spectacles being on the viewer’s face “removing the foreign object of the phone from the capture process,” that there is an improvement over the phone “always out” phenomenon, but I still think recording via Spectacles takes you out of the moment.

Just because you’re not holding a phone out in front you doesn’t mean you’re entirely focused on the moment. Spectacles don’t record because your brain tells them to; you have to reach up and push a button to record 10 seconds of video, and if you want longer footage, keep tapping. That isn’t focus.

And do we really need to record every moment? My answer to that is I’m unsure. There’s power in being able to do so, but I also think there’s power in not.

All this said, I am curious about this wearable (due out “soon” in limited quantities), but I think I’ll let some diehard Snapchatters try them out first. I’ll be over here posting more Instagram Stories with my iPhone 6S, old-school style.

‘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:

[brightcove videoplayer=”5090556995001″ playerid=”4057790005001″ playerkey=”AQ~~,AAAB3F0Fgjk~,iLMUk1o09xryy1Ypo80LdwzRrrPX3phQ” width=”480″ height=”270″ autostart=”false”]

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.

Who’s Afraid of Snapchat?

Much like Virginia Woolf, there seems to be more than enough people spooked by the app that boasts an average of 9,000 photos shared a second. You know, Snapchat.

Snapchat fear memeMuch like Virgina Woolf, there seem to be more than enough people spooked by the app that boasts an average of 9,000 photos shared a second. You know, Snapchat.

I won’t lie … I was. I figured it was for teens, or those interested in sharing salacious photos. Or, you know, Kim Kardashian. But not me.

That said, I kept seeing articles about how marketers were using the app in cool ways, either being present on the Discover platform, or coming up with cool filters, à la Gatorade’s animated Superbowl filter.

So I chose to take the plunge for work and launch Sass Marketing on Snapchat. In a flurry of excitement I sent my good friend Rachel (you remember her from the transparent or TMI post) a message. Her response:
Snapchat chat with RachFor context, Mrs. ImSoOld is younger than me.

[brightcove videoplayer=”4867713676001″ playerid=”4057790005001″ playerkey=”AQ~~,AAAB3F0Fgjk~,iLMUk1o09xryy1Ypo80LdwzRrrPX3phQ” width=”480″ height=”270″ autostart=”false”]

So why should marketers hunt down the savvy snapper in their team? (Trust me, we each have one — and no, I’m not it … I’m just trying.) Consider these points, which Caitlin Sullivan, the associate content editor on our sister brand Total Retail, made in my video right before she gave me an on-screen Snapchat lesson:

1. Snapchat provides marketers the opportunity to try real-time video, as well as provide access to events. With platforms such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Meerkat and Youtube Live, marketers are working on strategies for live streaming. Snapchat, then, is a quick way to introduce your audience to live streaming and connect with them in real time.

2. You can take your audience behind-the-scenes of your brand. People love an exclusive, which speaks to one of the key emotional drivers that we know so well in marketing. With Snapchat, you’re able to give the audience the behind-the-scenes view of your brand, which helps create — and engage — a strong following.

Show off your company and show off what makes you so interesting. Capture parties, Friday afternoons or company outings. The sky’s the limit on showing how your brand differentiates itself with company culture. The images shared via the platform are also more informal than the edited photos you see on other platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., which is a great way to show the real “you.”

3. Marketers can use the platform to partner with influencers. Similar to Instagram and other social channels, social media influencers on Snapchat can help spread brand awareness and reach. By partnering with influencers, you spread awareness to a demographic that’s hard to reach through traditional media.

Keep in mind, too, that influencers who are skilled with the Snapchat platform can create other spectacular video content — such as live streaming videos with Facebook Live — that can further enhance your brand voice and personality.

Right after we launched my Snapchat video, I got the following message:

Snapchat Chat 2Mission accomplished.

3 Fresh Approaches to Social Media

I was prepping for a webinar on marketing when one question caught my eye: “What are some new marketing trends that leverage social media platforms?” I did a little deeper research on the topic and came across some innovative ideas worth sharing.

The Email Idea Book - 5 Futuristic Email Tactics You Can Implement TodayEarlier this week, I was prepping to participate in a webinar on marketing and was handed a list of topics the moderator was planning to address. One specific question caught my eye: “What are some of the new marketing trends that have leveraged social media platforms?”

Like most of you, I’ve been involved in the traditional uses of social media — some were highly successful while others were deeply disappointing. But as the platforms evolve, so does the learning (from both the client and the platform), and both are looking for new ways to leverage the relationship between consumers and their apps.

I did a little deeper research on the topic and in speaking with the other panelists on the webinar, I came across some innovative new ideas I thought were worthy of sharing:

1. Snapchat Geo-targeting for CoverGirlSnapchat Ads
Adweek reported that P&G successfully used Snapchat to promote their CoverGirl limited-edition Star Wars collection of eye and face makeup. Since the products were only available at Ulta stores, P&G used Snapchat’s geo-targeting feature to offer a branded overlay/filter atop any post that was created within the specific proximity of an Ulta store. At first my reaction was “how could this possibly affect sales?” But the story went on to share that through segmentation and the isolation of key targeting variables, P&G could attribute sales to their Snapchat investment.

While P&G declined to share actual performance, they did compare same-store sales for a similarly themed Hunger Games collection (whose marketing included TV and Tumblr), and the Star Wars campaign was more cost-efficient and had more of an impact. My translation?

In trying to identify new ways to generate revenue, Snapchat has figured out how to leverage some of the data they’re already collecting. Since this app is tracks users by real-time location (as are most other apps), why not overlay that knowledge to specific retail locations in order to push a relevant message to the user? I can see lots of useful marketing applications for this intelligence.

2. Ezra’s Pinterest ‘How-to’sPinterest Logo
In the summer of 2014, Pinterest unveiled its new business model called Promoted Pins. If you know anything about Pinterest, you know that it’s about ideas and inspiration — and not about promoting items that are on sale. In all my research, the best article I found was from blogger Ezra. He spells out EXACTLY how he uses Pinterest to drive revenue, and what I loved most is that he did it by using tried and true direct response marketing techniques (which are often a lost art).

By using free and useful “how to” content as his lure, he then sent readers to his website where the “how to” guide continued with supporting video — and the opportunity to place the product right in your shopping cart. Ezra reports that a small $775 in advertising spend on Pinterest netted him $41,254 in sales. That’s a 5323 percent return on investment!

3. Target Marketing on PandoraPandora_logo
Pandora, the free, personalized music streaming service, reports that only 2.4 percent of their users pay for their subscription — so that means 97.6 percent are exposed to their audio (and digital) ads. One of my fellow webinar participants shared that one of their clients successfully used Pandora to drive traffic to their clients’ tourism website — and that those results were far better than any digital advertising they had ever used.

Pandora provides a host of case studies on their website but their most recent, for Woodbury University, was fascinating. By using age, gender, HHI, geo and Hispanic targeting tools, Woodbury served ads promoting their Graduate School program to a specific target in a specific DMA. As a result, they were able to increase page views to their campus tours page by an impressive 4,000 percent.

All of these uses of social media are smart, targeted, and painstakingly planned for success. I’d love to hear about more social media innovations — what can you share?

‘Social Media’ Is a Useless Idea

Sometimes it seems like the whole thing is a big, distributed CRM vending machine. But it’s not one thing. Social media is in fact many things, and they’re not really that similar.

Social Media TrendsI talk about social media A LOT these days.

That’s not because “likes” are some great indicator of marketing success. It’s because the interaction model of marketers and customers/prospects on social media is one of the most interesting and quickly changing fields in communications today. Things that a few decades ago had to happen in person or by mail now happen instantaneously with people you never even see, and many of them may actually be computer programs.

Sometimes it seems like the whole thing is a big, distributed CRM vending machine.

But it’s not one thing. Social media is in fact many things, and they’re not really that similar.

That’s why “social media” suddenly seems a useless idea. And perhaps it always was.

In the world where most of our interaction is happening online, are Facebook and Twitter really any more similar than mail and TV?

I don’t think they are. The strategies, creative and interaction on both of them are completely different, not to mention the advertising. Facebook is a gathering place, Twitter is a micro broadcasting platform. Instagram is for sharing your pictures, Pinterest is for sharing images you find around the Internet. LinkedIn is how you want to be remembered, and Snapchat is for the stuff you don’t want to remember.

It’s time we stopped talking about these different media channels as the same thing simply because they emerged from a vaguely similar time frame and technologies. Each one takes the kind of individual attention you give to executing your email program.

And if that’s the case, the singular idea of social media really isn’t useful anymore.

Like the traditional media channels, you don’t need to be on all of them. But the ones you do use must be respected as the unique platforms they are.