Family Is The Ultimate Social Circle

Social media are the here and now. Having a social identity has gone mainstream -- in fact, the social Web looks more like the American family every day.

ComScore reported in January that more than half of Facebook users and 44% of MySpace users are over 35. And, the single biggest age demographic in the U.S. on both Facebook and MySpace is 35 to 44. The fastest-growing demo on Facebook is over 55.

So what does this mean for marketers? Get social, as social networking is not just for teenagers and college students.

Marketers who engage kids in the 6-11age range need to find ways to reach kids in safe and effective ways, which means not only appealing to them but socially marketing to their parents, grandparents and teachers.

Nintendo knew this when it rolled out Wii. It instituted a spot-on marketing program to reach influential moms by getting them to host parties to introduce them to the Wii. Many of them were bloggers and could spread their impressions of the product after hands-on experience. This is a great example of tapping into powerful social circles to spread the word.

While I can appreciate what Wii did as a marketer, as a consumer I know Wii also provides powerful social interaction for my family; after all, isn't the family the ultimate social circle? Wii provides something for everyone in our family of eight. We bowl, play tennis and stay in shape. We also love We Ski -- hours of fun.

Building good brand affinity is imperative at an early age. EMarketer estimates that the number of children aged 3 to 11 on social networks will grow 61%, and the overall U.S. social networking population will grow 11% to 88.1 million in 2009. So kids are getting more social, too.

I was curious what brands are on the aisles today and which ones are starting to pull in social elements. Strolling down an aisle in the kids section of Target, I saw many classic Lego products on the shelves. In the video game section, there was a PlayStation with a Lego Star Wards game for ages 10+. Other brands also have made the transition and have virtual representations as well. Good to see classic brands getting social.

Another brand that recently caught my attention was Baskin-Robbins, a great family brand. In-store, I saw advertising for its birthday program driving me to the corporate site to sign up and register to receive a free scoop of ice cream on my or my children's birthday. Great marketing to pull me in for one free scoop, and I end up buying $20 worth or more ice cream for my other kids. I think there is an opportunity to take this a step farther and extend the experience on Facebook, putting the brand experience where consumers naturally gravitate.

Baskin-Robbins could reach kids by targeting their parents with helpful content. From serving up coupons for bringing in their friends, invite reminders for a group meet-up of ice cream fun, and birthday notifications -- Facebook provides the reach and utility a brand like Baskin-Robbins needs to engage the whole family and help spread awareness organically by the social actions people take in support of the brand.

Brands that help my kids learn to share, play and socialize are important to me. Marketers who couple offline and traditional experiences into social settings on the Web will become the big winners of tomorrow, both with kids and their parents.

As the market sees more traditional brands embrace this philosophy, it will become evident in their market share, brand appeal and loyalty. Brands who stir conversation and spark social interactions will win.

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3 comments about "Family Is The Ultimate Social Circle ".
  1. Bruce Christensen from PartyWeDo , March 3, 2009 at 3:18 p.m.

    Reggie,
    I agree 100% that the social web is beginning to mimic family life more everyday. I am a part of the fast-growing 55+ group in social networking. I would argue that the reason my generation is joining in the conversation is that we miss engaging regularly with our children. We are experiencing the loss of family contact and we are searching for points of contact with our kids and our grandchildren. Marketers who can feed us a network that builds on the memories of a close family will win our extremely large combined bank account.

  2. Keri Singer from Http://kerisinger.wordpress.com , March 3, 2009 at 4:21 p.m.

    Your article sounds too familiar with my experiences working with clients to help understand the value of blending both the online and off-line world together. We must take an integrated approach to marketing products, but be more creative and open to experimenting with new tools in the market. The web is a great place for doing your research and inspiring others to be apart of your brand. Teens and youth traditionally tend to be the first to adopt new things when it comes to the internet. The opportunities with these news tools are endless for marketers and will help to add value to enhance the experience for one's audience and their brands.The web is not only a great place for young people to learn how to be more social, but also a place for them to experiment, adopt new skills, build connections with others that hopefully will create opportunities for them to be confident professionals in the future.

  3. Kevin Burke from WholesomeOne , March 5, 2009 at 10:51 a.m.

    I get uncomfortable when I hear about brands trying to "help my kids learn to share, play and socialize." Ultimately, that is not a businesses' objective, and thus a danger for abuse exists. I DO strongly embrace the strategy of a brand to 'help ME (as a parent) help my kids learn to share, play and socialize.' The wording is slightly different, but the intent vastly different.