‘I share, therefore I am’ – creating content to get into ‘My World’

Young people outwardly like to see themselves as individuals, however we all know that ‘belonging’ to a tribe or subculture, or indeed belonging to many at one time – is the key way  young people create their  identity.

Today, young people are more than just connected, they are hyper connected on a digital planet. They can all control, create and distribute content. They can all have their opinion spread, shared and discussed. They now have remarkable influence over  brands.

Today, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE THE MEDIA and brands need to respect their social influence.

They’re evolved to copy and now brand decision making very much happens amongst the ‘swarm’ within social networks. Gen C prefer brands they hear about from friends or social networks.

Their constant exposure to status updates occur independent of face to face interaction. The rapid fire nature of these updates,  provides almost constant exposure to new ‘news’. Their response is to filter the information they receive, and prioritise what they pay attention to – what matter to them. They start to prioritise ‘my world’ over ‘the world’.

Put simply, youth view the world as ‘Me, My World, The World’ (a concept first introduced by Peter Fisk a few years back in a presentation called ‘The Consumer Agenda)

‘My World’ is a representation of who I am, and also adds meaning to my life by connecting ‘Me’ to the things I care about or want.

‘The World’ is everything outside of ‘My World’ that does not have immediate meaning to ‘Me’. The vast majority of advertising operates in ‘The World’.

I gain and maintain credibility in my friends worlds’ by expressing opinions, sharing ideas, observations and thoughts. ‘My’ influence within my friends world is based on what I share, and how frequently.

The new youth mantra is ‘I share, therefore I am’.

Gen C ‘The Connected Collective’ rely on social networks to ‘protect’ themselves from info overload. As a result, info that comes to ‘Me’ through ‘My World’ will be prioritised, receive more attention and go ‘viral’ so to speak.

Brands today looking to engage Gen C have to create content that has ‘conversational capital’.

Content that is relevant, useful and entertaining.

Content they can actively spread through ‘My World’. That content could be anything from film, to games to online experiences to applications and utilities.

Content that begs a reaction and has a fun social interface.

Content that connects them with each other, not just with a brand.

Content that they can participate in, play with or produce themselves and pass on.

Content which enhances their social status within ‘My World’ and says something about who they are and which tribe they belong to.

That’s how you get into ‘My World’

Big thanks to my old DDB colleague, PC  (now Digital Planning Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Auckland) who authored the descriptions and insights above on  ‘Me, My World, The World’  from a DDB Yellow Paper he co wrote with Brent Annells earlier this year.

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‘Influence’ Communications Planning

If the buzz word of marketing in 2008 was PARTICIPATION, the new area marketers need to subscribe to is INFLUENCE communications. Influence communications is marketing to not only the individual, but their network of peers that surround and influnce them across social platforms. We now know that for youth, decision making is a team sport, they use web 2.0 technologies to completely dictate most of their brand interactions..from what shows to wear, what brands to engage with, what parties, clubs to go to..they are constantly seeking the influence of their mates for tribal belonging.

In the process of trying to INFLUENCE collectives of youth, marketers need to do the following things:

1. LISTEN

Monitoring of customer conversations with each other online  – all about measuring the buzz around your brand

2. STIMULATING

Stimulating conversations in culture and participating in them, so the brand community has something to talk about..via forums and communities. If there’s nothing to talk about, you’re dead

3. ENERGISING

Make it possible for brand enthusiasts to help spread the word via ratings.reviews, social media apps they can pass on to friends

4. SUPPORTING

Enable customers to support each other via customer support communities..eg: Nike Bootcamp

5. EMBRACING

Help people work with each other to develop ideas to improve products, brand experiences. Invite consumers in to help co-create the brand, think of it like Open Source Branding.

So overall, marketing to the community, not the individual, ensure you’re listening to what’s happening culturally around your brand, then stimulate interesting conversations for people to get involved with…then ensure you foster those conversations and make it easy for the conversation to live beyong your marketing spend. Lastly, you need to understand that Open Source Branding – letting consumers to help co-create your brand assets leads to deeper levels of influence within the brand community.

Return of the Right Brain Thinker

Are you a right brain or left brain thinker? Which was is the girl turning? If you see her turning clockwise, you’re right brained, if anti clockwise, you’re left brain dominant. Apparently 80% of Australians are left brain thinkers according to UNSW. This worries me. Left brain thinkers are far more logical, linear, sequential, precise rational, objective. Right brain thinkers are more creative, imaginative, intuitive, look at the big picture. Why is it that when kids are at school the first years of their life they use their right brain skills, learning to draw, colour, make image associations..be creative and imaginative. You then hit the Australian schooling system and it is completely geared for left brain thinkers. At my school, the dudes that did art were viewed as ‘losers’, while the maths and physics wunderkinds were rewarded with plaudits. My point is, I think the Australian schooling system needs to do more to encourage right brain thinking and creative problem solving. We’ve got amazing web 2.0 tools and kids are now creating on their mobiles like never before, so hopefully we’re seeing the rise of the right brain thinker again. Why don’t we have more youth Think tanks where creative kids get to come together to solve real problems which affect them. Hopefully Aussie schools and BRANDS will catch on and give them further platforms to express their creative side and solve problems using their creativity and imagination.

The Importance of Brand Harmony

Integration was the buzz word of marketing for much of the naughties, but most of the time brands get it wrong. Rather than brand communication being about the same message littered across different media, brands should think about how they create ‘harmony’ in their media mixes. Faris Yakob talks about transmedia narratives building across different touchpoints where consumers get involved to recombine the message. Harmony based comms is not too dissimilar. Just like an orchestra has many different components working together, all building to belt out one great tune that people take in. The same principal applies for modern day comms. It’s about creating harmony between all the touchpoints, so different messages in different media build to create one in tune message. Some times it needs a solo artist to drive the orchestra, same applies with marketing, sometimes you need a standout piece of content to kick the harmony off. In addition sometimes you need an ‘amplifier’ to really reach the your community, in brands’ case, this is about how you amplify your message and seed it out the the right communities who will share an amplify it. Anyway, just a different way of thinking about the tired old integration word…

Influence is the new buzz word for 2009

Influence is a brands most powerful asset. Forget Attention economy. We’re now living in the Influence Economy. Web 2.0 technology has democratised influence, anyone can get it. It’s now about the influential ideas, people, brands that are creating cultural capital for youth. As we all know Gen C are hyper connected through digital communities relying on peer influence for most brand and life decisions. The level of influence a young person holds within their tribe impacts directly on their standing within the digital community. Marketers need to shift the way they think about connecting with young people. Attention alone is not nearly enough. You need to create ‘influence’. We’ve seen a shift from INTERRUPTION marketing (one to many, uninvited, one way) or Disruption (sorry TBWA, your model is out of date now) in the late 90’s to ENGAGEMENT (one to one, dialogue) model (2004-2007) to INFLUENCE (many to many, social currency sought out by Gen C). What does this mean for brands trying to connect with youth? As always, your brand needs to have a strong point of view on the world that’s unique and culturally relevant. Think about what conversations in culture you can spark and how you can build or leverage a community around that piece of conversation. How can you make Gen C ‘influential’ withing their tribe? Do something remarkable and let the community play with it. In 2009, it’s all about the ‘art of creating influence’ in youth marketing.