Think Global. Act Local. Go Social.

The undisputed marketing hero of 2009 is Facebook. There are countless stats to illustrate the growing size and strength of its unmatched audience, from 300 million global users to the recently released 94 million number of U.S. users. Time spent on Facebook continues to soar, with 2009 surely marking the tipping point, where Facebook became the "identity platform." With Facebook Connect and its portability making huge strides, our identity will be evolved and defined on Facebook.

There is no longer doubt that marketers need to embrace Facebook as a key channel and ultimately make it the fulcrum of their marketing communications. With the traditional media, it is difficult to socialize the brand. Facebook has become an epicenter for the "wisdom of friends" that helps facilitate and solidify our purchasing decisions.

Teens flock to Facebook for peer interaction and sense of belonging. So what does this mean to marketers? Get in and get social -- or get left behind.

Getting social is the first step, which most savvy marketers have embraced with robust presences. So what should marketers who want to reach teens through social media be thinking about it in 2010? Simply put, think global, act local, go social.

Facebook reports the average consumer has 130 friends on Facebook and a Vitrue study shows the average consumer has roughly 50% of his/her friends in the same metropolitan area.

What is particularly powerful for marketers who want to reach teens and build brand affinity for life is the percentage of friends who are local. The number of local friends is undoubtedly higher for people who are younger. I would even venture to say 13-to 18-year-olds tend to have a friend base that is 90%+ local. No doubt the percentage of our local peers will decrease over time, as people go off to college and live in different places, but there is no doubt that youth marketing and making "social local" needs to be a strategic course of action for marketers. After all, isn't this demo key for all marketers to reach to build affinity for life?

Couple this with the fact that, according to Nielsen, 78% of consumers buy products from a peer or friend, and you have a strategic bull's-eye for providing users with locally relevant social media to drive and influence purchases.

Today I bet the high school Friday night hang-out is a local restaurant or store such as a Starbucks, McDonald's, Subway or Bruster's. These global brands have a massive presence but need to reach out and engage users where they live. With a local presence, these brands can offer coupons to encourage new product trial, run polls to see what is resonating and provide a local community bulletin board where people can share and collaborate. They can also recruit great talent and showcase their local philanthropic initiatives. By giving teens utility and engagement where they are gravitating, these brands will build bonds for life.

Powerhouse brands need to give control to local markets while maintaining the ability to dynamically manage thousands of locations. Giving a brand a local presence helps humanize and offer utility to its presence.

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4 comments about "Think Global. Act Local. Go Social. ".
  1. Arthur Carmichael from HGTV , November 5, 2009 at 3:16 p.m.

    From your commentary:
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    "There is no longer doubt that marketers need to embrace Facebook as a key channel and ultimately make it the fulcrum of their marketing communications. With the traditional media, it is difficult to socialize the brand. Facebook has become an epicenter for the "wisdom of friends" that helps facilitate and solidify our purchasing decisions. "
    ______________________

    I'm not so sure.

    This is purely anecdotal evidence but the younger people I know are losing interest in their Facebook accounts in alarmingly increasing numbers. In fact, it seems, their losing interest in the whole "posting your life for the world to see" aspect of social media.

    Not that we should completely discount social media but I get the feeling that Facebook is poised for a MySpace-esque fall. Like MySpace has done with bands/music, Facebook may find its niche but, also like MySpace, it will probably cease to be relevant outside of that niche.

    I'm seeing the same younger generation loss of interest in Twitter, though, I'm having a harder time seeing a good niche for the 140 character service.

    All of that said, I think marketers still need to pay attention to these services. Especially those marketing to the 25 & up crowd since, just as they we're slower to adapt these services, the 25&U crowd will lag in shedding them. I just think it's a little late in the game for making them the "fulcrum" of your marketing communications.

    Some new service may bubble up at some point and capture the social zeitgeist title but for now I'm predicting at least a short-term drop off in our fascination with publicizing our lives. That is, until some new social pied piper lures us all back into the public square.

    In the mean time, keep a watchful eye for that next big social surge and be ready to ride the leading edge of the wave.

  2. paul myers , November 5, 2009 at 11:29 p.m.

    Not going to dispute the Facebook thing, though I agree with the previous comment that Facebook may be losing its "cool" as Myspace did before it. Thing is, with most youth, as soon as something becomes "mainstream" by definition it loses its "cool" and therefore the "cool" influencers and trendsetters must go elsewhere.

    That said, although I agree with the statement that brands such as Starbucks, McDonald's or Subway need to reach out and engage users where they live - I can't agree that these brands should offer coupons to encourage new product trial, run polls to see what is resonating and provide a local community bulletin board where people can share and collaborate. Not when you are talking about teens or the youth market in general.

    When was the last time you saw a teen use a coupon for anything? Now, maybe a mobile coupon might work, but kids do not clip coupons to save a few cents on a big mac!

    However, I have seen tens of thousands of youth practically fight over free food offers from clients such as Wahoo's Fish Tacos, Chipotle and various beverage brands.

    The problem is not the method, but the coupon or offer itself. Most brands do not create an offer or incentive that is compelling enough to engage the youth audience.

    For example, Pepsi offered a few million free songs via iTunes by redemption of a code under the cap -- originally, not the more recent AmazonMP3 campaign. Yet, the response rate came back at something around 5 million songs downloaded or approximately 5%. Not bad right?

    The problem was that out of the first run the under the cap codes were being posted all over the internet and a bulk of the 5 million songs that were downloaded were done so without purchase of the product (i.e. fraudulently).

    So, Pepsi actually ran the promo again. Unfortunately, response rates were not shared the second time. Nor have I seen any response rates from the more recent AmazonMP3 campaign.

    The point is, Gen-Y has been raised with the Internet. They have become accustomed to getting music digitally for free. Therefore, offering one free song is just not enough incentive for most teens to jump through your hoops.

    Similarly, offering .50¢ off a big mac via a coupon on Facebook will likely generate a luke warm response, if any.

    Yet, if you offer them a free sandwich, or a free drink without any catches (i.e. with a $5 purchase, or with additional purchase required - other strings attached) they will likely try your product.

    Additionally, if you want to poll or survey them, try offering 5, 10, 15 or even 20 or 25 Free music downloads (based on how many questions you ask) to reward them for providing you with their valuable insight as to their thoughts about your brand.

    We engage with millions of young consumers each year on behalf of our brand clients and we have been very successful in communicating with this demographic in an authentic and credible manner.

    Traditional advertising does not resonate with them. Invading their social networks with advertising will not resonate with them either. Make your attempts authentic and credible and take the time to understand how they want to be approached by your brand before you invade their world. Otherwise, risk alienating them from your brand for the rest of their life!

  3. Phil Guest from PeerIndex , November 6, 2009 at 7:42 a.m.

    Regarding the whereabouts of friends and the idea that 90% of young people’s are within their locality. This may well be the case for true identity services like Facebook and Myspace but not necessarily for social gaming and virtual worlds, which offer a degree of anonymity. This anonymity encourages people to connect through their interests and geography becomes less of an issue. How many people you know virtually is just as an important social currency for young people online as well as off-line.

    With Mum & Dad joining Facebook (mine included) teens are going to look for something they can truly call their own. In that respect we could see virtual worlds becoming the next pied piper.

  4. Arthur Carmichael from HGTV , November 6, 2009 at 1:14 p.m.

    And another thing ;~)

    Facebook stats on reach and growth are also misleading. MySpace was able to pull out a bunch of great looking #s long after they lost their relevance as well.

    The problem being, people don't delete their accounts (I still have my MySpace page but I haven't logged on in over a year) so, they still count in the "we have x number of users in y demographic" stats that social sites like FBook, MySpc, etc. love to boast about but that doesn't tell you how many of those users are still active.

    Growth rates within a demo are misleading, as well. All demos have late adapters; when these late adapters join, they bolster the growth #s but they soon find out that the reason they signed up -- social interaction -- is no longer valid. Like walking into a once hot hangout that's dropped off the A-list, you might pay the cover once and walk in, but as soon as you realize it's dead you leave and never come back.