How to engage the A-D-D Generation with #LifestyleHacking

A recent piece I wrote for Marketing Mag column with the lovely Kat Edwards from KontentedImage

A screenshot from one of our iris Worldwide presentations courtesy of our guru CSO, Sammy Noble.


Today’s digitally savvy Millenials have been termed the A-D-D generation, constantly flipping and flopping between jobs, digital devices, having attention spans the size of ants and being brand flirts. It’s not surprising given they’re dealing with 60 million Instagram pics being posted daily, 200 hours of YouTube video content uploaded every minute and 30 billion pieces of content shared monthly on Facebook.

Marketers need to understand those born after 1995 have been forced to develop a finely tuned editing and curating skills to process the endless streams of content bombarding their screens. How they absorb information in the networked world has fundamentally changed.

Today’s Millenials live on a diet of quick fix information nuggets where their memories are becoming hyperlinks to information triggered by hashtags, Instagram pics and Snapchat one-liners. When it comes to content they take a quick glance, sort it, and tag it for future reference. Forget multi-taskers. They are super-taskers.

So how can marketers engage the A-D-D generation?

In todays networked, post modern world, the biggest influence on youth patterns of thought and behaviour are their everyday experiences and social milieu. Their participation in the world around them is the key guide for marketers.

So the role of brands today is to ‘hack’ into and become more of an intrinsic and visible participant in the flow of their lifestyles. I call it ‘lifestyle hacking.’ Here are 5 principles for successful lifestyle hacks:

1. Design distinctive and instinctive interactions

Where milliseconds matter, moving beyond bland consistency, marketers need to focus on visceral, interactive and detailed experiences at every encounter creating distinctive and instinctive interactions.

2. Practical magic

Think about turning life’s pain points into little moments of pleasure and delightful discovery. More than digital utility it’s building in lots of sticky details. The Uber app is a great recent example of this.

3. Tribal identity

Baking in meaningful signs of tribal belonging and affiliation with groups of others to help frame their social identity is key. Our MINI UK #notnormal platform moved beyond the metal to celebrate the inventive relationships MINI owners had with their cars.

4. Social currency beyond WOM

Making your brand a unit of social currency, not just your branded content is the new centre ground for marketing. How do you always stay abreast of the zeitgeist and be part of the emerging shift to the collaboration economy? Online thrift shop is kicking goals here.

5. Immersive connectivity

Millenials crave connectivity and they love 4D immersion. Why else would Facebook buy virtual reality company Oculus Rift? Look for new ways to create brand experiences leveraging accessible virtual reality.

13 Social Media principles to drive engagement

I’m in the process of writing a presentation on ‘Social Strategy’ to train our Malaysian office and as part of the presentation I wanted to cover some basic social media marketing principles brands should think about before developing their social media strategy. This list by no means covers everything and I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, but it will hopefully paint a picture of some of the key things I keep in mind when developing social media thoughts:


It’s about influencing, not controlling

Entertain, facilitate or offer functionality
Be relevant! (Don’t assume your advertising will work in the social space)
Create content that they can participate in, play with or produce themselves and pass on. Try to design ideas with a social interface.
Focus on creators / critics : they are responsible for the biggest ripples

Make everything easily shareable
Install community managers who understand brand values and voice
Act fast, don’t leave people hanging
Provide facts and benefits at the moments that count (timing)
Social media needs maintenance / care / reactivation – commit to it

Be genuine, transparency is everything
Use a warm human tone
Surprise & Delight
 These principles are not linear and are not a step by step social media strategy toolkit, rather principles I think about when thinking in this space. Eager to get feedback.

‘Weak’ links create buzz, ‘strong’ links generate advocacy

Some really interesting thinking from my colleague PC which I’ve put a bit of a spin on.

What’s the difference between an idea that creates buzz  then dies off quickly and an idea that builds momentum and  goes viral, creating real influence within a tribe? The answer could be how your idea travels through social networks via  ‘weak links’ or ‘strong links’.  In terms of our social networking platforms like Twitter, Myspace, Bebo, Twitter – many people have ‘weak’ links which are the  200-300 friends they have added who they may share ideas or thoughts with. When someone shares something they like it may create a flurry of buzz as the idea spreads through the weak links as people comment, but the buzz is short lived as the conversations move on to other more interesting social objects. In terms of these weak links,  it’s about sharing information with this broader social network but the expectation of dialogue around that idea is low and rarely happens eg: 1 or two people may say ‘Dan likes this’ and give the idea a thumbs up.

However, to create real advocacy and influence around an idea, turning people into message carriers, you’ve got to influence the the ‘strong’ links people have within their social networks.  The strong links are those 10-15 close friends or members of their tribe who are the ones they go to for advice when recommending a brand. Their tight knit group if you will.  These strong links are the friends whose opinion they really value within their tribe and seek approval from. They also are the ones who share common interests around certain social objects eg: they may all be into heli skiing.  The strong links between these people  has the power to spark group decision making and get people swarming around a brand.  If one member of a strong link loves a heli skiing resort and talks positively about it, more than likely the strong links between members of the tribe will mean they’ll interact with the idea.

So what does this all mean for brands?

Well, to infiltrate ‘strong’ social network links, there has to be shared  value and conversational currency coming out of the social object that is being discussed.

Ideas that help people connect the tribe around a passion point will always get heat within social networks. People want to connect around interesting cultural objects, you’ve just to create an idea that organises them and gets to the strong links quickly.

In todays media environment where cultural trends travel at hyper speed, youth brands should be focusing much more on the speed or VELOCITY of an idea, how quickly it can spread through weak links and then on to strong links. Speed is the new big. Small gestures in marketing can be equally as powerful as big scale marketing initiatives, if these gestures spread through influential strong just because I post a piece of content I like that I found on youtube to my 600 friends on Facebook, doesn’t necessarily mean there will be an engagement with that idea, unless I have strong links as well.

To create brand influence, social ideas have to be culturally relevant, people become fans of culture, not ads or widgets. If it’s just a piece of funny content, it won’t go further than the weak links (and 90% of your friends will ignore it), it will be disposable and the idea/content will be forgotten quickly.

In my mind, in terms of seeding strategies for youth campaigns, it’s far less about getting to so called ‘opinion leaders’ who have loads of friends, but the vast majority are ‘weak links’. Rather, it’s about finding the right people (true believers) to spread your message who have highly influential ‘strong’ links and are motivated to spread your message for you and become carriers. It comes down to people wanting to be seen as influential within their tribe, we all want to contribute something positive within our strong links, it helps us belong – which as I’ve spoken about before is the fundamental youth need that’s been turbo charged by social media.  That’s the difference between generating buzz that comes and goes, and creating real advocacy and conversational currency that leads to influence. Food for thought?


Strong links vs weak links in social networks