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The new social generation

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Are there differences between kids and parents in their motivations for their use of social media and the behaviours they exhibit? We analysed tweets sent by adults and teens, in order to provide …

Are there differences between kids and parents in their motivations for their use of social media and the behaviours they exhibit? We analysed tweets sent by adults and teens, in order to provide context for those of us seeking to use social media to understand kids and parents, and the potential implications for engagement by brands.


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  • Thank you very much.Just a sentence firstly to introduce Precise, for those of you who do not know us. Precise is a business information group that provides monitoring, analysis and research services, using editorial, broadcast and social media as our source material. Traditionally, we worked with our clients PR and Comms teams, which is why you may not have heard of us. Today, we have 400 people in London, and we increasingly work with brand and insight teams. Our Brand Insight team uses social media to perform consumer research. Today’ I’ll spend some time making the case for why social media is a fantastic source of consumer insight and not just to inform social media marketing, but actually to help inform almost any brand development, campaign or innovation activity. I’ll then move on to talk about understanding how younger and older consumers differ in their use of social media, and what this means for understanding and appealing to them. You’ll see that I’ve boiled the rather long and slightly impenetrable programme title for this discussion down into a not very much pithier but hopefully slightly clearer description of what I’m going to cover off!
  • Hereare some observations on how parents’ social media use differs from kids’, and what this context means for using social media to understand them, from a research point of view, and, from a marketing point of view, to appeal to them. These observations are based on the social media research projects we have undertaken over the last year or so, and also on some research conducted specifically for this conference, in order to answer the research question we set ourselves, which was...
  • We reviewed all available UK social media content containing the word ‘retirement’ over the last three months that can be attributed to the UK, and we reviewed samples of that content by hand in order to identify the different opinions about the topic that are present within the content. What we found was three really quite clear strands of opinion – opinion-based segments, if you will. On the one hand, there are those who, via the content they create, appear to view retirement with excitement, as a means of escape from the drudgery of working life. On the other, there are those who are coming to terms with the reality that retirement will come later and be poorer than they had hoped for. Then, there are those who appear more sanguine about the prospect of retirement, who are seeking to come to terms with the new reality by carefully planning for it. We’ll now look at each of these opinion-based segments in a little more detail, to understand at a top level where these opinions are being expressed and, accordingly, by whom.
  • The first challenge we face in understanding any differences in social media use, well before we get to the implications of any differences, is in identifying who’s who.This is very easy if you visit a forum where kids or – more likely – parents congregate based on self-defining as such – for example Mumsnet.And whilst we can review Mumsnet – as can any of you – to understand parents behavioural trends and habits, I’ll leave that to Carrie, who will be able to speak with much greater authority on this than can I.To understand who’s who outside of self-defining forums, for example to be able to build a picture of who is creating Twitter content, we need to take a different approach. We use four techniques: Channel policy and demographics (e.g. unlike some social networks, Twitter has no age limit, all networks and many forums will have accessible dxemographic information). It’s also important to say, by the way, on the topic of channel policy, that we only include content you could find through Google search (not that we use Google to search for it). We cannot and would not wish to access any password-protected content. Stated profile (profile details and picture) Assumptions based on topic Assumptions based on analysis of the language used Assumptions based on the apparent motivations for posting, and the conversational behaviours we observeThat’s a lot of assumptions, but even using Mumsnet for research involves assumptions - there’s many a granny using Mumsnet. Motivations and behaviours are, we think, a rather neglected but important aspect of considering who’s who, because they are not immediately obvious , but can be rather revealing (not least because this analysis can cut across assumptions based on topic and language analysis) and are especially relevant to contextual understanding and to working out how to appeal to kids and parents.
  • Once you have undertaken that attribution analysis, it enables you, as a researcher to do something very important - to include or reject content for analysis depending on whether you want to include content from kids and / or parents within the analysis. You have to have knowledge and experience in order to make the assumptions on which the attribution analysis is based. We think our body of work enables us to be confident as to how the motivations and behaviours around social media use vary between kids and parents, and this in turn makes the process of attribution analysis more reliable.Of course, I’ve given the game away, the answer to the question we posed is that there are differences between kids and parents in their motivations for use of social media and the behaviours they exhibit. I’ll now move on to illustrate some of the key differences we have observed based on analysis of tweets sent by adults and teens, in order to provide context for those of us seeking to use social media to understand kids and parents, and I’ll also call out implications for engagement by brands.
  • Our main finding is that teenagers use Twitter differently, and have different motivations compared to adults.Let’s focus on five characteristics of teen behaviours and motivations first, before moving on to look at adults.
  • For many teenagers, the number of times they’ve tweeted is regarded as more of a badge of honour than the number of followers they’ve acquired.
  • This means that teenagers are more likely to tweet about everyday experiences and tend to be unconcerned with producing a professional brand identity in a public setting.
  • Teen conversations can be very organic, defying expectation, convention...and other research findings...The soft drink manufacturer for whom we produced this analysis was rather surprised to find the most prominent topic of conversation in relation to one of their brands being jokes about other consumers mistakenly thinking the product contained alcohol. Assume nothing!
  • Teens like to tweet about ‘fun’ brands they encounter on a daily basis, like children’s cereals and soft drinks. We found that the launch of a new soft drink flavour, and even the inclusion of a toy in a cereal box, can be more successful in generating online word-of-mouth than major product launches or ad. campaigns. It’s a bit like that old story about the box always being more popular than the present at Christmas – simple, eye-catching ideas cut through. It’s all about giving teens short stories to recount.
  • Teenagers are more likely than adults to use Twitter to engage in genuine conversations, whereas adults might email, text, talk and therefore reserve Twitter for a slightly different use – for reasons of habit, preference, and money – it’s cheaper to talk on Twitter.
  • For each of the five observations about teens, pretty much the reverse is true for adults, with the differences driven more by their lifestage as adults than by their role as parents.
  • For adults, the number of followers they’ve acquired is the key means of measuring their success
  • Adults are more guarded about online privacy and are more aware of the digital trace they leave behind. Partially because of this, and partially because the motivation to acquire followers rather than accumulate tweets, adults are far more likely to carefully curate and project an idealised version of themselves. Whilst many adults would never think about it in these terms, they are effectively filtering the content they share and produce based on an articulation of their own brand.In this example, you can see how the tweet carefully projects the individual as having a work / life balance, with the comment about the concert bookended by comments about work, the final statement being the most positive. For adults in their role as parents, projecting the image of being ‘on top of it’ is an important motivation to post and an important filter for what they post, a virtual extension of the way they present at the school gates.
  • Once you understand this motivation, content created by adults and parents tends to be somewhat more consistent and predictable than teen content - though the beauty of social media research is the frequency of its capacity to surprise. For example, if we look at social media discussions around cooking from scratch, we find, unsurprisingly, that they tend to take place primarily between adults, and that there is a marked tendency for those tweeting to tell the world about their endeavours, delivering as it does a badge of honour as a do it all mother or an enlightened father.
  • Whereas giving teens fun things to talk about fuels their conversations, the way to drive adult discussions is more around feeding their ability to project the desired image of themselves. If for teens its about being feeding them interesting short stories to tell, for adults its about being part of their overarching narrative. This is certainly the case in the Twitter research we have undertaken, but this also appears to be the case for other social channels as well. For example, one of the things we have noted on mums forums such as Mumsnet is that across a series of topics related to healthy eating, a greater proportion of posts could be categorised as sharing advice or responding to questions, rather than asking questions, and much of this sharing and many of these responses involved the sharing of success stories.
  • While teenagers are more likely to use Twitter to engage in genuine conversations, adults generally use it as tool through which to broadcast their opinions to as large an audience as possible. This is linked to that motivation around curating and creating content that is supportive of an adult’s own personal brand, and reflects the fact that adults might be using other communication platforms to hold conversations.
  • So to summarise - and to a degree to generalise - whilst for teens, the size of their tweet total is often more important than the number of followers, for adults, it is frequently the case that the reverse is true.Whilst teens tend to engage in unrestrained reporting of their everyday experiences, driven in part by the desire to boost the tweet total, and also by the use of Twitter to have conversations, adults tend to engage in the careful curation of a considered image, and to filter the content they share and create based on this articulation of their personal brand. Whilst teen authored content can frequently defy expectation, convention, and other research, the motivation more common amongst adults and parents to present on open networks a considered image e.g. as a professional, tends to make for more consistent and readily interpretable content.Whilst giving teens fun stories to tell fuels volumes, being part of adults’ and parents self-image narrative tends to be more successful in driving their discussions. Whilst teens tend to use Twitter as a place for conversations between themselves, adults and parents tend to use Twitter and indeed forums as more of a platform for broadcast.
  • Finally, and taking a step back, here are some key takeaways for brand owners.Given the difficulty in ascribing specific demographics to social media content, looking for clues in the content can help shed light on who is talking, and those behavioural differences are a critically important context when using social media as a source of opinion-based research. The differences that exist in social media behaviours, and the motivations for those behaviours, mean that as adult marketers seeking to appeal to children, it is critical that we don’t make assumptions as to what will appeal to them, based on what would appeal to us on social media. As we have observed today, the differences between kids and adults / parents use of social media can be quite marked, and are not necessarily exactly what one would expect. The implication for those of us looking to appeal to kids and sell to parents is that we need to find a way to deliver differential benefits and cater to the different behaviours of kids and parents. In many cases, we think the two groups need to be messaged to separately and differently. One of the great benefits to us as marketers of the proliferation of social media channels is that now, of course, they can be. Feed the image parents wish to curate and be part of their socialnarrative, give the kids plenty stories to tell, and that is a straightforward recipe for appealing to kids and selling to parents on social media.Thank you.
  • Transcript

    • 1. The Kids R AlriteHow Parents’ Social Media UseDiffers From Kids’ & What ThisMeans For Understanding AndAppealing To ThemAppeal to Kids and Sell to ParentsJames WitheyHead of Brand InsightPrecise+44 (0)20 7264 6316james.withey@precise.co.uk@PreciseTweetswww.precise.co.uk
    • 2. How Parents’ Social MediaUse Differs From Kids’ &What This Means ForUnderstanding AndAppealing To Them
    • 3. Do parents and kids use social media differently? And if so, does that matter for understanding them and appealing to them?17 Image courtesy of Easterbilby from Flickr
    • 4. The first challenge isidentifying kids andadults.Attribution analysis: Channel policy and demographics Stated profile (profile details and picture) Assumptions based on topic Assumptions based on analysis of the language used Assumptions based on the apparent motivations for posting, and the conversational behaviours we observe Image courtesy of codepo8 from Flickr
    • 5. Attribution analysis enables theresearcher to make a moreinformed decision as to whosecontent to include and exclude. 19 Image courtesy of dok1 from Flickr
    • 6. Teenagers use Twitter differently, and have different motivations compared to adults.Image courtesy of Tobyotter from Flickr
    • 7. 1.Total tweets moreimportant than numberof followers. “4000 tweets is a big accomplishment for me”
    • 8. 2.Unrestrained reporting ofeveryday experiences. “I just had a bowl of coco pops watching #madeinchelsea to o!!!! Xxx” 22 Image courtesy of Andinarvaez from Flickr
    • 9. 3. Teen conversations can defy expectation, convention...and other research findings. Themes of conversation about leading soft drink brand Jokes about being people thinking brand contains… Love the taste Currently drinking Love the new flavour Planning to or soon drinking Craving one Drinking with a meal Drinking at a bar or restaurant as an alternative to… Dislike the taste of drink Too expensive at bars 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25%23
    • 10. 4. Giving teens fun stories to tell fuels volumes. “:D never knew these existed but seriously, am i the only one who is excited by a sparkly drink?!”24 Image courtesy of thebline from Flickr
    • 11. 5. Twitter is a place for conversations.Image courtesy of Jenny818 from Flickr
    • 12. For each observation about teens, the reverse is true for adults, with the differences driven more by their lifestage as adults than by their role as parents.Image courtesy of Tobyotter from Flickr
    • 13. 1. Number of followers more important than total tweets. “100 followers. Woop Woop! Heres to the next 100!”27 Image courtesy of Striatic from Flickr
    • 14. 2.Content filtered by carefulcuration of a consideredimage. “Long day of meetings coming to an end - one more to go & Van Halen concert tonight; great discussions with clients & 28 Image courtesy of shannonkringen from Flickr partners” Image courtesy of Striatic from Flickr
    • 15. 3. “Sunday night after the football Im cooking my Motivation of adults and family a three course meal. parents tend to make for All from scratch. more consistent content. #causeiwanna” Themes of conversation about cooking from scratch Boasting or sharing the fact they are Discussing whether its cheaper than ready meals Planning to do so (in conversation with others) Not cooking from scratch because "..." Enjoyed or will soon enjoy someone cooking from scratch for them Sharing recipes Learning how to cook from scratch Its a necessary skill to posess Encouraging others to do so Problems encountered 0 50 100 150 200 Volume of mentions29
    • 16. 4. Being part of adults’ self- image narrative drives discussions Categorisation of posts about topics relating to healthy eating Asking for advice 12% Sharing 45% Responding 43%Source: analysis of posts mentioning topics in relation to healthy eating, namely fat, sugar, exercise, salt, obesity, cholesterol and five a day, fromcafemom.com, mumsnet.com, netmums.com, momtomumchat.com, momstobeclub.yuku.com, mothering.com, justmommies.com, mumszone.co.uk, mums-room.co.uk, themommyplaybook.com, askamum.co.uk, searchmothers.com, allformommies.com, mumslikeyou.com , circleofmoms.com30
    • 17. 5.Twitter is a platform forbroadcast.31 Image courtesy of Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints from Flickr
    • 18. Teens: Adults:mTotal tweets more important Number of followers moremthan number of followers. important than total tweets.mUnrestrained reporting of Careful curation of ameveryday experiences. considered image.mContent defies expectation, Content defies expectation,mconvention, and other research. convention, & other research.mGiving teens fun stories to tell Giving teens fun stories to tellmfuels volumes. fuels volumes.mA place for conversations. A platform for broadcast.m Image courtesy of Tobyotter from Flickr
    • 19. Takeaways Look for clues in the content to shed light on ‘who’. Don’t make adult assumptions as to what will appeal to kids. Deliver different messages to kids and parents. Proliferation of social media channels facilitates this. Feed the image parents wish to curate and be part of their social narrative. Give the kids plenty stories to tell. This is how to appeal to kids and sell to parents on social media.33
    • 20. Thank you