Friends Endure, Acquaintances Are Forgotten

Fervor over digital marketing has enjoyed a recent shot in the arm, thanks to the flourish of social media tools. Facebook and Twitter have put the power of instantaneous updates in the hands of everyone in an organization rather than the select few who administer a company's website. This is a huge transformation, but one that comes with increased risk, depending on the teens you are trying to reach.

As more and more companies adopt social media as a platform to perpetuate brands, we can expect to see a cause and effect.

The current cause is social media updates -- tweets, status updates and the like -- being pushed out often with no real long-term brand strategy in mind. The ability for "right this second" communication to your brand loyalists is great, but without a considered messaging approach (too many uncontextualized @ reply tweets, little to no value in the communications), and brand followers' level of interest is going to quickly wane.

The resulting effect could be similar to what happened with websites back in the early 2000s. As the novelty of the medium wore away, websites with too heavy an emphasis on extraneous fluff (nice long Flash intro anyone?) rather than real substance died off. As the digital landscape becomes more and more saturated with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels, there will be a similar survival of the fittest. When the craze dies down, the survivors will be channels with great content and useful benefits to teens.

So how do you effectively take advantage of these digital marketing tools to reach teens rather than just jumping into the pool with your clothes on because everyone else at the party is?

Honestly evaluate what you have to offer
Now is the time to be honest about what attractive content your organization really has to share. Do you have special offers? Valuable information that can't be gotten elsewhere? A good sense of humor (don't underestimate the power of making teens smile)? Focus on the thing you do well and stick to it. It might be tempting to go for quantity over quality, but as in any real-life situation, teens have only so much tolerance for useless interruptions to their lives.

Select the right tool(s)
When selecting social media tools for your company to use, it's crucial to select the one(s) that will best propel your message. Too often organizations simply pick them all because that seems like the thing to do. However, sending out tweets when there's not much to say isn't going to improve any potential customer's opinion of you. Furthermore, research shows that younger teens tend to eschew Twitter due to privacy concerns. You're best off tailoring your digital marketing selections to the material you have and the audience you're going after rather than forcing communications where they don't belong.

Nurture your new efforts
An effective social media presence requires a dedicated commitment. Simply posting "when there's time" will net you roughly the same result that you'd get if you gave the real-life teens the scraps of your time. Simply being on Facebook or Twitter isn't enough. Be prepared to devote a significant chunk of time to this if you want it to succeed. Remember, just as in any relationship, you tend to get back what you put in.

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1 comment about "Friends Endure, Acquaintances Are Forgotten ".
  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing , November 27, 2009 at 11:11 a.m.

    You hit some great points here. Thank you for not writing another Pro-Advertising Social Media Fluff Piece! While Social Media is a great place to listen and learn about your target demographic, unless your giving away free gear or deals or amazing content Teens (everyone actually) do not care you exist on any Social Media Networks. We all use Social Media to connect and keep in touch with friends and family first, social acquaintances second, favorite bands/causes/stars third, and brands last (sorry brands). If you think for one second a teen wants to be engaging with Coca Cola vs their best friend your crazy. But if Coke gives away a free 20oz soda coupon every time I log onto their fan page they will log on. But the minute you end the free giveaway their logging on will end. The fact is we all use social media to interact with people. If we wanted to interact with brands don't they all already have websites? Social media in reality is a way for us all to have web sites. And that is why we engage with each other. But no one wants advertising or business butting into our private lives or conversations uninvited. So any campaigns or engagement efforts must be crafted in ways that respectfully acknowledge the invasion of people's private space (Teens especially!). And the best way to reach them is outside social media. This allows them 100% opt-in vs feeling you barged your way into their life. If you barge you better bring the Free Schwag or you could actually turn an ambivalent person aggressively anti- your product or brand.