Why Millennials Don’t Consume Mass Media … And Why That’s OK

Every semester, I ask the students in my undergraduate classes: “Does anyone read the newspaper?” No hands raised.

Every semester, I ask the students in my undergraduate classes: “Does anyone read the newspaper?” No hands raised.

“Does anyone watch the network news on TV?” No hands raised.

“Does anyone listen to the radio?” Some who commute by car raised their hands.

As someone who has two newspapers delivered to the house every day and faithfully watches the network news on TV, I was disturbed by this, smacking my forehead with a “these kids today!” exclamation. I feared that the world view brought to them by social media was very narrow and limited to the viewpoints of people who were just like them. A few of my Facebook friends have very different political views from mine (their posts sometimes annoy me), but most of those in my social network are aligned with my views. I believed that young people would have an even less diverse pool of opinions from which to draw.

So I did some research to confirm my point of view, ignoring David Ogilvy’s warning that many agencies and clients “use research like a drunkard uses a lamp post – not for illumination but for support.” What I found was illuminating.

The social networks of Millennials are not as homogenous as those of older people: “31 percent of Baby Boomers on Facebook who pay attention to political posts say the posts they see are mostly or always in line with their own views, higher than both Generation Xers (21 percent) and Millennials (18 percent),” according to Pew Research Center Journalism & Media.

A study by The American Press Institute (opens as a PDF) finds that most Millennials report that the people in their social networks have diverse views. “Contrary to the idea that social media creates a polarizing ‘filter bubble,’ exposing people to only a narrow range of opinions, 70 percent of Millennials say that their social media feeds are comprised of diverse viewpoints, evenly mixed between those similar to and different from their own. An additional 16 percent say their feeds contain mostly viewpoints different from their own. And nearly three-quarters of those exposed to different views (73 percent) report they investigate others’ opinions at least some of the time — with a quarter saying they do it always or often.”

The news is not a destination for Millennials, but rather something that’s woven into their daily social media activity. “Millennials consume news and information in strikingly different ways than previous generations, and their paths to discovery are more nuanced and varied than some may have imagined … just 47 percent who use Facebook say that getting news is a main motivation for visiting, but it has become one of the significant activities they engage in once they are there. Fully 88 percent of Millennials get news from Facebook regularly, for instance, and more than half of them do so daily.”

Of course, it’s not just Facebook … YouTube and Instagram serve the same purposes for Millennials. As marketers, we need to stay tuned-in (sorry) to how the most populous generation consumes news, social and lifestyle information simultaneously on social media platforms, and how we can best make our messages relevant there.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Deciding if It’s Worth It

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it for sales prospecting? And how can you measure the investment — and end it if it’s not? I’ve consulted my most trusted resources — and clients — on the answer. Because what we need is an honest answer from people who are interested in growing their business — not just LinkedIn’s! Here are the results I’ve found in guideline format. The consensus seems strong. In 95 percent of cases you may not need a Sales Navigator or Premium level account.

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it for sales prospecting? And how can you measure the investment — and end it if it’s not?

I’ve consulted my most trusted resources — and clients — on the answer. Because what we need is an honest answer from people who are interested in growing their business — not just LinkedIn’s!

Here are the results I’ve found in guideline format. The consensus seems strong. In 95 percent of cases you may not need a Sales Navigator or Premium level account.

Key Consideration Points
Let’s keep it simple. Here’s what the average B-to-B sales prospecting person needs to consider. Point by point.

  1. The Free Trial: Is one month enough time to judge?
  2. The cost: When and how will it be recovered?
  3. The yardstick for success: Leads found and qualified faster, not trivial activity.

The Problem With a 30-day Trial
I rarely hear anyone talking about this aspect. Yet I’m not sure why. In most B-to-B sales environments a 30 day free trial is not enough time to judge any sales prospecting tool, tactic or strategy.

Even in today’s fast-paced social selling world LinkedIn’s 30 day trial period is far too short.

One of my most trusted sales training colleagues put it this way: “What sales team wants to commit to a playing field that moves the goal posts every couple of months? If I have a six month sales cycle, please explain what good a one month free trial does me?”

Thus, please understand that the free trial isn’t actually free. It’s a discount on your first six months of Navigator subscription. Because many of us need at least 6 to 12 months to understand if this is having positive impact on the bottom line — finding and closing new clients faster.

Justifying the Cost
The fastest way to understand if the investment might be worthwhile is to examine the benefits — but with a sales hat firmly on. Sales Navigator Professional (for individuals) gets you:

  • InMail: The one perk that everyone knows about.
  • Free incoming InMail: Anyone on LinkedIn can send you a message, free.
  • More search filters: You get an additional eight filters (although some are not applicable at all to sellers)
  • More saved searches: Very handy if you have a set of searches you do repeatedly.
  • More search results: You can see two hundred, four hundred or more.
  • Unlimited profile search: You will not need to worry about hitting LinkedIn’s arbitrary Commercial Search Limit.
  • Introductions: You can send a message to someone you would like to meet through a mutual LinkedIn connection.
  • Who’s Viewed Your Profile visibility: You get more visibility into who has viewed your profile.
  • Automated lead recommendations and real time news insights on leads.

I’m not saying any of these features are good or bad. Rather, we must question if they are worth paying $79 per month to access. In particular, most of my clients find the ability to search an unlimited number of times beneficial. How much so? This varies on individual experience.

And therein lies the tricky part: Generating enough experience with these features to pass fair judgement.

The Yardstick for Success
This is a tricky issue extending beyond the problem with a 30 day trial. It is unclear when significant cost breaks on the $129 per seat Team fee comes into play. This is not publicly discussed by LinkedIn. More importantly, justifying the cost must come in the form of hard numbers.

Sales related numbers.

The vast majority of businesses I’m finding measure soft value when building a business case for Sales Navigator. LinkedIn itself is encouraging this “soft yardstick” via it’s Social Selling Index. (SSI)

True, each category of the SSI is based on a practice vital to success using LinkedIn. They are important to your productivity, effectiveness … ultimately, your success at finding and closing leads faster.

Beware of Vanity Metrics
LinkedIn’s social selling index is flawed as a measurement tool when building a business case.

Because establishing your brand, finding the right people, engaging and building relationships are the basis for the SSI. However, each of these has an (unmeasured) quality component that directly drives business value.

Here’s the rub: When reps have a lower skill set at communicating with prospects they will always have lower success at earning meetings and closing deals with them. You can brand, engage and connect all you want.

In the end, the more effectively reps communicate the more deals get discovered, nurtured and closed.

Yet LinkedIn’s main tool of measurement is based purely on a quantitative basis.

Bottom line: The SSI is a potential indicator of productivity. However, being an active user of LinkedIn does not make you a productive seller.

Sales productivity takes more; it takes qualitative behavior and specific business outcomes. Knowing how to make a sales appointment via email or InMail trumps being able to simply send email!

What do you think about how I’m approaching this? Am I off the mark? How are you approaching building the business case?

 

Trolling the Internet With a ‘Dislike’ Button

As a public relations professional, I suppose I should be happy that Facebook is going to soon enable “dislikes” as much as “likes” — giving its account holders the capacity to rip on photos, posts, pages and other assets to which they wish to convey a negative sentiment quickly.

As a public relations professional, I suppose I should be happy that Facebook is going to soon enable “dislikes” as much as “likes” — giving its account holders the capacity to rip on photos, posts, pages and other assets to which they wish to convey a negative sentiment quickly. Such venting apparently is in demand, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported.

Helping brands keep likes more numerous than dislikes can require lots of public relations help. And where dislikes far outnumber likes, so the more. However, the best public relations may only help temporarily for any product or service that’s not up to par — you have to fix the product or service first.

To me, it’s concerning that the Facebook platform — a mostly “nice corner” of an otherwise diatribe-filled Internet — may go the way of sports, political and news site bulletin boards, where public comment sections always seemed to be polluted by bullies, trolls and hatemongers. It’s not as if trolls can’t already post “hater” messages now on Facebook. But don’t we have enough online garbage without Facebook further facilitating the frothy fray? Perhaps Facebook well knows that dislikes count the same as likes — so by enabling dislikes, they’ll be getting a whole bunch of engagement they’re otherwise missing out on.

Turn to marketing: By reducing any branded or non-branded digital post to a real-time popularity contest (likes v. dislikes), how do we inform the consumer marketplace in a constructive way? We probably don’t. I foresee “dislike bots” driving up the thumbs-down tally by anyone with a bone to pick. At least with the solo presence of the “like” button, Facebook users lend someone or some brand a tiny bit of affection. I believe the world could use of little more positive encouragement — we have enough of the other kind.

Thankfully, Facebook is not abandoning the like button. I just hope the trolls don’t get the upper hand, and do unnecessary damage.

Better yet, instead of sending me a simple like or dislike, choose from any number of emoticons. If feedback needs to be easy and icon-driven, then I’d rather have a full set of offered emotions to choose from, then just a thumb pointed one way or another.

Should I Accept Your LinkedIn Invitation?

Recently I accepted a full-time position with one of my clients, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which makes me particularly happy to have benefits again, but I sure will miss my daily freedoms from the past six years. Since I updated my LinkedIn profile, a plethora of people I do not know have reached out to me asking for LinkedIn invite acceptances—but not stating anything specific or particular in their request of me

Recently I accepted a full-time position with one of my clients, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which makes me particularly happy to have benefits again, but I sure will miss my daily freedoms from the past six years.

Thankfully, I get to maintain a small stable of freelance clients that keep me busy at night and on weekends, too. And I enjoy uncovering new business opportunities for myself or to steer potential business to trusted colleagues in my field. Other folks have done much the same for me, a virtuous circle.

Obtaining a new job is one business happening that “triggers” marketing events of one sort or another. While I haven’t made it yet to the C-suite (I can only imagine the triggers there), I’m getting my share of social check-in’s, emails, not-so-many telephone calls, and a direct mail piece or two.

Since I updated my LinkedIn profile, a plethora of people I do not know have reached out to me asking for LinkedIn invite acceptances—but not stating anything specific or particular in their request of me. Please, take a moment and give a short sentence stating what we have or could have in common. I’m a PR guy, and I genuinely like getting to know people and how we can build bridges and do business together … but I don’t want the quality of my social network to become watered down. I wonder if LinkedIn has relaxed its rules for enabling introductions.

My normal protocol in response is to visit his or her profile, and see if there’s an apparent fit to my professional life. Sometimes I discover it’s someone I do know with a new or different surname (and I readily accept), but most of the time it’s a complete stranger, with only imagined relevance. Is it me they’re after, my position that intrigues them, or my employer’s marketplace presence? It’s always good form to keep your own profiles edgy and up to date for the inspection of others—and your invites to the point.

Let me also state the opposite: I do feel some guilt dismissing online a complete stranger (but perhaps an industry cohort) because I wonder if I’m doing myself, my new employer and my existing social network a disservice. Shouldn’t I be willing to talk to a stranger—I do it all the time at tradeshows and industry gatherings (we’ve self-qualified each other by both being there)? Yes, I should be willing—but I don’t’ always feel the need to get a business card.

Recently, I came across these rules for accepting LinkedIn invites which I believe are worth sharing.

  1. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if I have had the opportunity to work with you
  2. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if we have met in person
  3. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if we have spoken on the phone (and an in-person meeting is not feasible)
  4. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations to initiate a professional relationship where phone, online, and/or in-person collaboration is expected.
  5. My goal in every LinkedIn relationship is to be able to recommend your services to other professionals who trust my opinion.

I’ve built my network with rules one, two and three—which has allowed me to implement Rule 5. I’m admittedly not so quick on rule four, precisely because of Rule 5! The integrity of anyone’s social network is one’s ability to leverage it: quality before quantity.

As interconnectedness grows in our world and our field—all marketing is integrated, and my status as a PR professional informs marketing—I’m going to try and be more open to new faces online, but I will continue to insist on some due diligence. Otherwise, what’s the point in having a connection?

Feel free to post your own rules on social networking. Or offer an opposing point of view.

Digital Developments in B-to-B Event Marketing

Event marketing has long been a staple in B-to-B, where the face-to-face conversation enabled by a trade show or corporate event plays a valuable role in launching or deepening a business relationship. But these days, business events are taking off in new directions, empowered by advancements in digital technology. I’ve been keeping an eye on some of the new developments, and happily share a few here.

Event marketing has long been a staple in B-to-B, where the face-to-face conversation enabled by a trade show or corporate event plays a valuable role in launching or deepening a business relationship. But these days, business events are taking off in new directions, empowered by advancements in digital technology. I’ve been keeping an eye on some of the new developments, and happily share a few here.

Harnessing attendee word of mouth. Event organizers can help registered attendees spread the word about upcoming shows with tools like Plancast, where members share news of their plans-both consumer and business-with friends and fellow social network members.

A private social network for attendees. Both Pathable and CrowdVine offer tools to help show organizers create a private social network, where event attendees can post their photos and profiles, search for connections and make appointments with people they’d like to meet at the event. This takes a lot of the randomness out of networking and lets attendees use their time more efficiently. A boon for exhibitors, who can interact with attendees in advance and follow up with them later, in a dynamic virtual environment.

Events designed for both virtual and live audiences. Some companies are moving in the exciting direction of “hybrid meetings,” where live content is concurrently streamed online, engaging both attendees on site and people at their desks. To pull this off, considerable advance planning is essential, says Pat Ahaesy, of P&V Enterprises, a NY-based event agency. “The hybrid event needs to be rehearsed and staged, with high definition video cameras. Speakers must be trained on how to engage with both audiences. And the content has to be terrific.” But the benefit is huge. You get double the audience, plus an archive of content that can be repurposed for years of additional value.

“Smart card” badges for richer data capture. Show badges built with “near field communication” (NFC) technology are gaining attention from organizers and exhibitors alike. Instead of scanning, exhibitors tap visitor badges using a mobile device, and the data uploads to the cloud in real time. So the post-visit message stream can begin right away. The attendee badges can even be loaded with money (remember, this is the technology behind Google Wallet) and followed up with a message like, “Thanks for coming to our booth. Have a macchiato on us!”

Bob James, head of marketing at ITN International, shares another interesting application of the technology: The satellite manufacturer Harris Corporation knew they’d have a busy booth at a recent show, and they were concerned that they might miss connecting with some important prospects. So they set up 22 self-serve kiosks around the booth, where visitors could tap their badges, request a case study or video, and indicate what kind of follow-up they’d like. A neat way to expand the reach of the booth staff.

Program book on your smartphone. I am always vexed at being handed a heavy conference guide to lug around, so I really appreciate the ShowGuide technology from RiverMatrix, which moves the entire show program off my shoulder and onto my phone. That’s including sessions, speaker bios, maps, the works.

Virtual events. After years of experimentation, virtual events still struggle to enter the mainstream. A study by the Event Marketing Institute says 93 percent of senior executives polled find value in virtual events. But Exhibitor Magazine’s survey suggests that 60 percent of businesses have yet to try a virtual event, even a webinar. Making the trade-off between the value of face-to-face contact and the cost savings of online interactions remains a challenge for B-to-B marketers.

Digital is making events faster, cheaper, better. What new digital developments are you seeing as part of the business event marketing mix?

A version of this post appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Doubling Down on Google+?

When determining how to integrate Google+ brand pages into your planning for 2012, it’s important to understand what Google+ is and what it isn’t. By Google’s own admission, Google+ isn’t meant to be a social network. Or so it says.

When determining how to integrate Google+ brand pages into your planning for 2012, it’s important to understand what Google+ is and what it isn’t.

By Google’s own admission, Google+ isn’t meant to be a social network. Or so it says. Google+ Pages will help brands in terms of search position and relevance with more real-time content that’s prioritized above other search results. But it’s not designed to drive the type of deeper engagement true social networks allow. While Google+ should be part of your overall media strategy, it won’t replace other social efforts anytime in the near future.

For example, there are limitations placed on Google+ Pages right now regarding promotions and contests. Specifically, the inability to host any promotions or competitions directly on Google+ Pages may actually end up driving more promotional traffic to Facebook. This is further made likely by Facebook’s own policy requiring that contests running on its site be hosted there.

The threat to the existence of Google can’t be understated. How real is this threat? Google certainly feels confident that it owns the internet and mobile web based on current platform dominance. But it should remember that it’s benefited from disruptive shifts in technology and user behavior.

For mobile specifically, this threat is embodied not only in Siri, which we know Google fears, but also potentially in Windows Phone. From a user experience perspective, Windows Phone represents a paradigm shift. Flameouts show how a dominant position can be compromised by complacency and failure to shift product strategy to reflect evolving tastes.

What further increases this risk for Google is that TV online advertising rates are on track to return to prerecession levels, while the overall ad industry is still below 2007 spending levels. While 2012 will see the growth of online ad spending surpass TV (11 percent growth versus 7 percent growth), brand advertisers are still spending more on TV. With more and more ads driving traffic directly to Facebook in search of deeper engagement, we see yet another strong channel that bypasses search-driven web use, even websites, entirely.

While I’ll be the first to admit that speculation on Google’s ultimate demise may be a bit premature, it does lead to some questions about what this all means in the short term. While Google+ will most likely have to be part of your overall search marketing consideration set, it’s a nonstarter from a social platform or deeper engagement perspective. Plans should reflect that. Google’s impulsive product strategy should also pause brands when considering how much effort to expend on Google+ as a whole. What it’s already shown us with the recent product cancellations and refocusing is that on Larry Page’s watch, anything is possible.

Most Twitter Users Follow Brands

A new report from Edison Research’s Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia Series, Twitter Usage In America: 2010, contains all sorts of interesting Twitter facts. It presents three years of tracking data from a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,753 Americans conducted in February 2010.

A new report from Edison Research’s Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia Series, Twitter Usage In America: 2010, contains all sorts of interesting Twitter facts. It presents three years of tracking data from a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,753 Americans conducted in February 2010.

A key finding for marketers: Fifty-one percent of Twitter users said they follow at least one brand on a social network, according to the report. That number drops to just 16 percent for users of all social networks.

What’s more, 42 percent of Twitter users said they use the tool to learn about products or services, and 41 percent said they use it to provide opinions about them. Twenty-eight percent said they use Twitter to look for sales or discounts, 21 percent use it to purchase products or services, and 19 percent use it to seek customer support.

Here are some other key findings from the report:

  • Awareness of Twitter has exploded from 5 percent of Americans age 12 and over in 2008 to 87 pecent in 2010. By comparison, Facebook’s awareness is 88 percent.
  • Despite near equal awareness, Twitter trails Facebook significantly in usage: 7 percent of Americans (17 million people) actively use Twitter, while 41 percent maintain a profile page on Facebook.
  • Nearly two-thirds of active Twitter users access social networking sites using a mobile phone.
  • Blacks make up nearly one-quarter of the U.S. Twitter population, twice their share of the total population of the country. In contrast, whites make up more than 69 percent of internet users, but about one-half of Twitter users.

The report said that high usage in the black community could be related to the mobile nature of Twitter. While many users update their status with a PC, mobile devices are a major conduit of microblog posts. Research shows that blacks and Hispanics are both more likely than whites to use the mobile web, especially among younger users.

Pretty interesing stuff. Were you surprised by any of these findings? If so, please leave a comment below.