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My Feeling Is…More Facts Are Needed!

August 30th, 2010

One of the hardest positions to be in is to find that your organizational strategy is based entirely upon not what’s been requested, nor even what’s been successful (since no tracking has been done), but solely the personal opinions of a select few in management who feel that they speak for all.

It’s simply too easy to assume that “we know this group” and set our campaign toward them on auto-pilot; however, this can have detrimental or disastrous consequences, because all groups evolve, adapt and change.  When an organization, company or medium fails to listen, notice or adapt with them, this is a formula for disaster.  Mike Frey makes a good argument about how social media was created because traditional media didn’t pay attention and became further and further removed from its customer base.

Research toward your constituents should be ongoing, segmented and with dual considerations:  Industry-wide data is important to monitor, but you also need to keep tabs on what your own organizational data is as well.  They may not follow the same trends in all circumstances.

When reviewing and segmenting social media data, for example, we see that overall use is growing at an incredible rate among seniors, particularly in the 50 – 64 age category.  While their consumption does not yet equal that of the 18 – 29 age group, it is notable that the rate of increase has roughly doubled in the last year . . . and the year before that.  The rate of increase in social media usage is clearly higher among these seniors than any other group.

This research explains the trends of the data that gut feelings might not, such as:

•     It’s likely that even greater numbers of Boomers will join the ranks of social networking as more of them get high speed internet
•     Older adults tend to be home bound in greater numbers, and appreciate being connected with loved ones online

There are many ways that social networking engages participants of all ages, too.  Consider the plethora of online games and the market penetration of such things as FarmVille viewed on grocery shelves.  This crosses a variety of demographics.

A common misperception about a different segment is that Generation Y exists exclusively online, and the only way to approach them is through Facebook, but there is never just one way.  For one thing, recent studies have documented Facebook Fatigue among Millenials, who are finding it less cool, now that their parents and grandparents are joining in droves.

Teenagers and young adults elsewhere are showing additional offline trends as well:  In Australia, they are using the web as a means to search for ways to shop offline; and there’s documentation that German teens are becoming more interested in face-to-face time these days, too.

American Gen Y entrepreneurs have also recently been meeting with one another in person to brainstorm about how best to create new ideas, including starting the largest Google Doc.

We can’t be positive what the next new trend(s) will be or exactly what our constituents will want from us in the coming year(s).  What is certain, however, is that we must continue to learn all we can about their needs, desires – and proven response rates and meet them where they are . . . not where we decide they should be.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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