Disconnection: A precious commodity?

This week in eBuzz from Michael Carney’s Marketing Week:

  • Thanks (or not) to technology, Gen Y and Gen Z will never be alone
  • Secrets to online marketing

Gen Y and Gen Z – Never Alone

“When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I Cor. xiii. 11

That was then, this is now:

“When I was a child, I made lots of friends at kindy and at primary school and added them to my address book on my mobile. Now, even though I’m all grown up and working, many of the mates I met back then are still texting me and sending me status updates on Facebook. It’s great, although I do wish they’d stop teasing me about the stone soup I made in Mrs McCready’s class in Year One.”

Our youngest generations — the millennials, digital natives — have been given a great gift, but it can also be a terrible curse: to be always connected.

We’ve been pondering the sociological implications of never escaping your past. It’s like living in a small town (or, for those who remember the TV show ‘Cheers’, like going to a bar where everyone knows your name). For those in the ‘in’ crowd at school or high school, today’s paradigm means that they can stay in touch with their friends (and hangers-on) potentially forever. It also means they will never escape their former lives.

Gen Y and Gen Z may never get the chance to leave their sins of the past behind and build a whole new life, new connections and new beginnings — at least, not without going off the grid, ditching their Facebook profile, changing their mobile number and otherwise turning into a virtual hermit. And that must be a frightening prospect to someone who’s never been truly on their own.

Blogger David Fallarme captured the essence of the Gen Y lifestyle in this recent piece:

I realized that with all the avenues of communication available, I’m never, ever really alone. If I’m having lunch by myself, I’ve noticed that I’ll send text messages to people in order to relieve the silence. If I’m bored on the subway, I’ll call or text someone.

If I’m working on something on my laptop — at least one IM program will be open. Sometimes I’ll sign on and passively leave it in the background. I’ll happily oblige if someone engages me in conversation, but I’m content with simply being available.

In my unscientific poll of some colleagues, it’s clear that I’m not alone in doing this. Viewing it objectively, it looks like a strange behaviour. What’s the point of all this seemingly needless connectivity?

This always-on mindset could be indicative of a generation with low self-esteem. I still remember the days before ubiquitous cellphones, email, IMs and social networking. If you wanted to get in touch with a friend, you’d have to hope they were near a landline or you would go to their house. If you couldn’t connect with them…no fuss, no big deal.

But now that we can connect with our friends (and expect to hear a response anywhere within 24 seconds to 24 hours), we’ve tied our ability to connect into our self-identity. Because we are used to being surrounded by people — from our helicopter parents to our always-available peers — we have become dependent on their communication and addicted to their contact. Are we a generation that self-medicates its emotional issues by sending out texts?

Our personalities are now inextricably linked to our cellphones and Facebook walls. Notification of a new text or message can trigger a dose of excitement, a microsecond-high that makes you think ooh, what could this be? That’s why some people (affectionately known as “Facebook whores”) are so addicted to Facebook. It’s constant reinforcement that says yes, I have friends, and yes, I have social value.

The desire to be liked is certainly not unique to Gen Y. But this is the first generation where you can actually measure your popularity. Just count the text messages in your phone and see how many Facebook friends you have.

And what of those who never made the grade at school — those excluded from the inner circle? Will they remain forever on the outer, unfriended and unfriendable? Are we entering an era where your future is determined by the size of your pre-existing network? Will we judge you by the numbers of your followers before deciding whether to extend the virtual handshake?

Must be a sizeable government-funded research study in there somewhere!

Secrets to online marketing

Did you know that YouTube is New Zealand’s second most popular search engine?

More Kiwis search for stuff on YouTube than anywhere else except proud parent Google.

We’ve been doing a bit of homework on Online Video in preparation for our upcoming eCourse on the topic [email us if you want to advance notification of its release]and came across these five video marketing tips that are well worth sharing, courtesy Morgan Brown, director of marketing for TurnHere, a California-based online video production and advertising company:

1. Aim for Authentic, Actionable Content
Don’t worry about stock photography, templates, or videographers who will make you look like all their other clients. Be authentic. Be personal. After all, this is your big chance to highlight your strengths and show what really makes you different. Keep the video short and the less scripted, the better — since customers are jaded by typical sales pitches and marketing buzzwords. Creating authentic video that captures the human element behind any business allows customers to connect on a personal level.

And don’t forget to incorporate a call to action. While your authentic video builds trust and drives action, viewers must be given a reason and a way to call you, visit your website, or stop by your store. Be sure to include some action path — for example, a trackable URL, a coupon, discount code, or unique phone number to call. This not only encourages viewers to engage with you, but also provides a tangible way to measure the results of your video.

2. Optimize Video for Google Search
The advent of blended or universal search has changed the search game. Search engines now display more and more videos, images, blogs, maps, and books in their results. These new search algorithms weigh video heavily, giving you a great opportunity to increase your relevance in search results (and even achieve that coveted first page ranking on Google). In fact, Forrester Research ran an experiment on the top-searched keywords and discovered that videos have an 11,000-to-1 chance of appearing on the first page of Google’s results, while text has a 500,000-to-1 chance of making it on the first page — in short, video has a 50 times better chance than plain text for getting to the top of search rankings.

Even with this incredible opportunity, many marketers don’t yet think about making their video Google-friendly. There are several simple steps you can take to optimize your online video content.

3. Add Video to Your Facebook Page
Most likely, your Facebook fans are already customers — the social network gives you the chance to strengthen existing relationships, build your brand, present special offers, as well as find some new customers as you reach into the extended networks of your current fan base. On Facebook, use video to show the human side of your company. Think fun and creative. Show a ‘behind the scenes’ peak at your office or shop. Use video to announce a new contest or special. Post video highlights of past events, customer testimonials, etc.

4. Put Video on YouTube and Other Video Sites
YouTube has quickly grown from a network of user-generated content to become an invaluable repository of content. Next to Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine [told you so!], with more than 3.5 billion queries a month according to comScore. YouTube and other video sites are great vehicles to reach an audience who might not find you otherwise. Best of all, you can create a branded YouTube channel and host your videos without incurring any bandwidth costs. And don’t worry — you don’t necessarily have to create the next viral sensation to find success on YouTube. Small businesses can create valuable new relationships and build sales without generating a million views.

5. Add Video to Your Google Local Business Listing
By adding video to your business listing on Google Local, you’ll be able to tell your story and connect with those people who are looking for your products or services, at the very point in time when they’re actively researching or ready to buy. This ultra-targeted form of marketing is highly effective for driving clicks and calls. And amid a list of company names, addresses, and phone numbers, an engaging video brings your listing to life and sets you apart from the crowd.

To which we add: as part of our course preparation, we’ve been working up a list of cost-effective suppliers of video production services for online. If you’re considering online video in the near future, get in touch with us: [email protected]

  • And make sure you check out the Marketing Rebooted eCourses. We’re coming to the end of the first week of our Social Media Marketing eCourse, so if you haven’t done so already this is probably your last chance to sign up and join the rest of the current intake. You work at your own pace, so you can sign up at any time; but there’s a social networking component to the course that kicks in at Lesson Two, at which point you’ll be interacting with other students; so it helps if everyone’s on the same Lesson. For a rundown of the course content and what it will cover here.

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