The Twitter Election: Three Lessons For Marketers

3 10 2008

If you listen carefully these days, you can hear the subtle sounds of something very fundamental shifting.

It’s the sound of keyboards clicking, iPhones beeping, TweetDecks purring. Welcome to the Twitter Election.

The political debates are happening in real time, both on the stage and around the world. Opinions are being shifted on a Tweet by Tweet basis.

The Digital Back Fence and The Mainstream Media Are Merging

How it impacts your marketing depends a lot on whether your brand says “Hi, I’m A McCain” or “Hi, I’m an Obama” (more on that soon, I’m still thinking through exactly what I want to say on the subject.)

There was a time when print or TV pundits told us who won or lost a debate. Today, the Digital Back Fence (social media like Twitter and Facebook and YouTube etc) and readily available digital editing tools have made the gap between event and analysis, between gaffe and parody, disappear.

As Brandon from Octane Interactive notes:

“In 2004 Facebook had just launched and was open to college students only, and YouTube didn’t even exist! These two sites alone have totally changed the game…”

The Power Of Instant Political Parody

On September 25, Katie Couric interviewed Sarah Palin. 10 days later, this devastatingly funny political parody video mashing up Palin’s voice and video of Miss Teen USA’s famous flop answer hit YouTube.

Social Media, Meet TV.

And it’s not just online. Have you seen what’s happening with Hack The Debate? Current and Twitter are putting TV and social media together in an entirely new way. This radically alters expectations: we no longer expect to watch debates. We expect to be IN debates.

CPG Marketers: Watch Closely. But Don’t Draw The Wrong Conclusions.

John McClain and Mr. Clean may look alike. But from a new marketing perspective, they’re not exactly the same commodity.

People are more passionate about politics than cleaning products. And, the stakes are higher.

Still, I think 3 lessons can be learned:

  1. People’s expectations about participating with media are fundamentally changing. What do our customers care about? How can we get them involved with our products? What conversations do our consumers think we belong in, and which should we steer clear of?
  2. The split in how we consume media is widening daily. McCain voters largely get their news from TV. Obama voters largely get their news from new media sources. How a consumer thinks the world works is radically impacted by where they get their news. Which mass medium — TV or digital? — does your consumer live in?
  3. The people at your company and your agencies need to live in both worlds. If you have a young creative team and a product with an older consumer, how well can they understand the worldview of that consumer? Conversely, if you have an older creative team for a product aimed at younger consumers, how good will their understanding be? As a professional duty, I believe that people at all parts of the process on both the marketer and agency sides need to spend a little time in both media worlds every day. Left to my own devices, I would watch a whole lot less TV than I do. The reason I watch is because I need to understand what that’s like, and how different the world looks from that POV.

It’s a new world. Very exciting stuff. How are you dealing with it?

2008 Is The New 1908: Gen Y Moms And The Digital Back Fence

17 09 2008

Anyone who markets to young Moms needs to understand how these women interact with technology. But if you really want to get a clear sense what’s going on, maybe it’s time to fire your futurists, and start taking a closer look at social histories of the early 1900s.

Selling to Gen Y Moms in 2008 looks more and more like selling to new Moms in 1908.

  • Moms share tips and ideas over the “back fence”: community matters more than media. Today that back fence is digital and global, but the behavior is the same.
  • Moms learn about new products from connecting with other Moms, and trust those recommendations over any other
  • Moms tend to view advertising as snake oil salesman. When it’s hard to know which brands have an authentic message, it’s easier to distrust them all.
  • Moms express themselves through home-made items (1908: pies and knitting; 2008: blogs and video)

Research by Yahoo! and Carat Interactive, conducted by Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited takes a fresh look at Generation Y and its uses of media.

“What makes Gen Y people different is the way they are consuming media,” says Beth-Ann Eason, vice president, Category Management at Yahoo!. “Research that Yahoo! and Carat commissioned earlier this year showed that not only are teens spending more time with the Internet than TV, but that they also use the Internet as the hub of their media activity. The Internet is the medium from which all other media decisions get made, and that’s a powerful tool for marketers.”

Gen X and Gen Y Moms: How Are They Different?

In broad terms, it’s safe to say Gen X Moms use the web to get things done, and Gen Y Moms use the web to connect.

NewMediaMetrics recently surveyed moms who visited While both Gen X and Gen Y Moms had similar objectives of exploring mom-related issues online, Gen Y moms tend to have much higher attachment to interactive tools that allow them to connect directly with other moms: online communities, blogs, video-sharing sites. By contrast, Gen X moms have a more utilitarian view: online shopping, researching and reviewing products, and organizing photos.

For the PDF file on the study, please visit Parenting here. (PDF Download)

Some Surprising Facts

In their 2007 book, Connecting to the Net.Generation: What Higher Education Professionals Need to Know About Today’s Students, Reynol Junco and Jeanna Mastrodicasa found that in a survey of 7,705 college students in the US:

* 97% own a computer
* 97% have downloaded music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
* 94% own a cell phone
* 76% use instant messaging and social networking sites
* 75% of college students have a Facebook account[17]
* 60% own some type of portable music and/or video device such as an iPod
* 49% regularly download music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
* 34% use websites as their primary source of news
* 28% author a blog and 44% read blogs
* 15% of IM users are logged on 24 hours a day/7 days a week

Are We Seeing Women As They’re Seeing Themselves?

In my opinion, the imagery of Moms in a lot of advertising is in many ways still 20 years behind the times. There are still a lot of 1980s “I can have it all” moments — the Dynasty shoulder pads are gone, but the attitude lingers like Joan Collins’ perfume. In many ways, this summer’s Sex In The City movie had it more right than marketers do: it’s about friends and connections more than it is about some stale image of an uber-Mommy.

And maybe that’s exactly where we need to start. Good marketing starts with good listening and a willingness to learn. Hasn’t it always?

Photo Credit (Mommy Blogger): Scott Beale / Laughing Squid