Broadly speaking, behavioural shifts used to be generational. We used to be able to say that the adoption of major technologies took a generation to move from creation to mass adoption. From the railways, to radio, to telephones and television, this remained true. In fact, strictly speaking it was true for the internet – whose genesis dates back to the Advanced Research Project Agency’s work in the 1960s. But suddenly, in the last decade, this has changed. The world is changing faster than ever before, particularly when it comes to media. Culturally and technologically, things shift so fast now that a nine-year-old girl today has a different experience of the media to a nine-year-old three years ago. Twitter didn’t exist until 2006; now it’s being added to the UK primary school curriculum. Many of you will be aware of the “Mindset List”, published annually by Beloit College in the US. It lists a series of cultural references that will be make no sense to the incoming undergraduate students each year. On screen now are a selection from the 2010 list. Most of those students will have been born in 1992, which is probably when some of you here graduated...So what does this mean for us? Most obviously, it necessitates a continual focus on understanding our audience, the need to always challenge our assumptions about audience behaviours and attitudes.
The reason we’re all here today is the size of this opportunity. By the end of the day, we’ll all be familiar with the many statistics and examples that illustrate this. In the last year alone, the Harvard Business Review, The Economist, and Newsweek have all run lengthy features on the female economy and the potential it represents. I’ll quote some of those briefly:“Women represent a bigger opportunity than China and India combined” [HBR, Sept 09]“Economists, consultant and other business types have begun to track the rise of a new emerging market, one that may end up being the largest and most powerful of all: women” [Newsweek, 21.9.09]- Women control about $20 trillion in consumer spending; this could rise to 28 trillion in the next five years [HBR, Sept 09] 73% of US household spending is controlled by women [Boston Consulting Group, 2009]In fact, according to the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, women are the key to economic recovery. Speaking at Davos this year, he said that companies and countries “must pay heed to one of the fundamental cornerstones of economic growth available to them – the skill and talent of their female resource pool. As consumers, voters, employees and employers, women will be integral to global economic recovery” [Source: The Guardian, 29.1.10]
Is this though actually new, news? We’ve known for quite a while now that women have been the key decision maker in most consumer choices, and their spending power continues to grow.Particularly though, have these “economists, consultants and other business types” not considered that women might want a higher role for their lives than “consumers”?We must get away from the idea of women, particularly young women, being primarily “consumers.” Young women’s attitudes and behaviours in this respect have changed quickly and fundamentally, and if our communication doesn’t reflect this, much of it will fail.
Consider one of the most successful TV series of the last decade: Sex and the City. The young generation of women around the world who watched this show – from cable in the US, to widely pirated DVDs in China – have grown up thinking of themselves as producers, who share their thoughts and creations with the world, as well as being consumers of the output of others. The show’s chief protagonist, Carrie Bradshaw, is someone who, on the surface, defines herself through her consumption – namely, her love of fashion and most particularly ManoloBlahnik. But at the core of each episode is her musing on some important issue about life, which goes far deeper than the superficial artifice of her outfit. According to the feminist writer Naomi Wolf, “Carrie showed audiences week after week that a lively female consciousness was as interesting as female sexuality or motherhood or martyrdom – the tradition role model options…. Teenage girls watching each episode were taking in a clear message: not only can I dress up and flirt, seduce and consume, overcome challenges, yield to temptations, take risks, fail, try again – I can think about it all, and what I think will matter.” [Source: The Guardian, 22.12.09]And it’s that last sentence that’s the important bit. This youngest generation of adult women has learned that its views matter to the world, and it has learned this exactly as the most powerful platform for dissemination of thought, information, opinion, and physical & virtual product has blossomed – the social web. It’s a perfect confluence of behaviours and communication platforms and channels.We cannot ignore the fact that today’s young women see themselves as producers as much as consumers.
One only has to look at the inexorable rise of social networking sites to see this rapidly changing behaviour. I’m sure I won’t be the only one looking at the growth of social media so I’ll keep this very brief. This slide shows the gradual - and substantial - adoption of Facebook among 15-24 year old young women. Of course, in Asia Pacific and Latin America, there are local social network sites that have even greater penetration, but the figures for Facebook are indicative of the trend. [US drop in late 2009 was due to an unspecified (but large) number of users being unable to access their accounts for three weeks]
Similarly, the figures for year-on-year growth for young women are astounding, even though the amount of discussion around Twitter is greater than its actual use.Of course, if you believe some commentators, young people don’t use Twitter; this is patently untrue.
But one of the most interesting effects of this new emphasis on sharing and producing, is the way the social web is changing the way people distinguish themselves from others socially. In a consumer society, people use status to distinguish themselves, and consumers commonly both demonstrate and increase their status through the acquisition of goods - driving a Rolls Royce, for example, both indicates and conveys greater status than driving a Opel or a Seat. As Professor Susan Greenfield said: “The reason we crave more clothes, cars, goods, brands, is that they’ll say something about us, symbolise our distinct, preferably superior identity.” …and a large part of the marketing industry’s activity is based upon this simple idea.[Professor Susan Greenfield (Baroness Greenfield), professor of synaptic pharmacology at Oxford, and former head of the Royal Institution in the UK]
To launch its T707 handset in China, Sony Ericsson worked with leading Chinese social-networking site Kaixin001, developing a virtual ‘gift’ for members to send to one another. The viral content featured a full-screen demonstration of the T707 most attractive features - its stylish design and colourful notification and light effects. Over a million gifts were sent on launch day and within justtwoweeks, it had become the most successful gift to date on Kaixin001, with over 12m virtual T707s sent between users.
With this in mind, more and more brands recognise the importance of working with their audience, and generating social currency and social links to win the hearts of digital natives. But if we are to truly engage and influence them, it’s not enough just to turn to social media and expect everything to work out.It’s important that we understand both the level and the type of engagement our audience has both with social media, and with the brands and categories they consume. The reason this kind of understanding is important should be obvious: social media covers a wide range of activity - from blogs, email, instant messaging and social networks, to photo-sharing, product reviews and Wikipedia - not all of which is relevant to everyone.So, for example, there’s no point asking people to create a video as part of a promotion if your target audience are disproportionately unlikely to be the kind of people that create content for the web. [Images are Google, Facebook, delicious, and YouTube (to illustrate different types of social media use/involvement]
The best explanation of this that I’ve seen is Forrester’s Social Technographics ladder, which some of you will be familiar with.It splits use of the social web into seven groups of internet users, and results in very clear ideas of how best to engage different people using social media. So, for example: Originators- create content, such as a blog or web-page, or video uploadsCollectors - sort and keep track of information, using aggregators like de.li.cio.us or Google ReaderCommentators- react to other content, e.g. posting comments onlineConversationalists – are the most active users of social networks – regularly updating their profileJoiners – are less active participants in social networksSpectators - consume what the rest produce – blogs, podcasts, videos and so onInformation seekers – you can guess what they use it for – using a search engine for informationInactives - don't participateThe figures above are for 16-24 year-old-women, globally. [The groups are not mutually exclusive, as can be seen by the percentages][See Groundswell, Li & Bernhoff (Forrester Research), 2008]
Now if you look at the trends for digital natives, you won’t be surprised at the results, given what I’ve emphasised so far.The figures in red on the right all represent increases in digital natives’ active engagement with social media – that is, different forms of social production - during only the last six months of 2009. And these figures are dramatically higher than for older women – up to 20 per cent higher in fact. This is an age-group that is really leading the way in the use of social media.[Compared to ‘all women’: Originators – +4%Commentators – +2%Conversationalists – +18%Joiners – +21%Spectators – +11%]
A good example of communication adding value is P&G - theycreated the Being girl community site for girls to talk about teenage life because it knew girls wouldn’t talk about tampons; the site gives them an environment to deliver feminine care product messages. Transport for London, the UK local government transport body, integrated its youth road-safety campaign into the Bebo page featuring the popular online drama Sofia’s Diary, and included videos, polls and comments for participation.
Using apaid,owned, earned approach doesn’t necessarily rely on social media. My colleagues in Taiwan were responsible for a wonderfully integrated use of paid, owned and earned media when working for EMI. Jolin Tsai is one of one of Taiwan’s most popular female singers, but even she had suffered from erosion of sales through illegal downloads. When launching her Agent J album, the incentive for fans to ‘go legal’ had to be very compelling. The launch campaign placed a ground-breaking piece of owned media at its heart. Acclaimed director Jeff Chang directed a 70-minute film that coaxed a star performance from the pop-queen. Pre-launch communication included SMS invites to a VIP premiere, a dedicated website with ringtone downloads and competitions, and retail movie-posters. Then, the day before album-launch, there was another industry-first, for paid media: a 21-channel media roadblock, publicly unveiled by Jolin, featuring a two-minute preview of the film. The packed-out VIP-consumer premiere of the film was followed by mini-concert by Jolin, which generated overwhelming earned media coverage. Pre-orders for the album were over four times higher than the norm, and Agent J ended up as the year’s best-selling album.
Engaging the female digital native<br />Caroline Foster Kenny<br />Mediaedge:cia<br />
A first generation of female “digital natives”<br />
How the world looks to digital natives<br />The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union<br />There has always been only one Germany <br />"Google" has always been a verb<br />Text messaging is their email <br />Reality shows have always been on television<br />They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp <br />Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age <br />They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television<br />Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos<br />Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia <br />They have always "dissed" what they don't like<br />Source: Beloit College, 2010 Mindset List<br />
Women are the majority of many social media users<br />%<br />54<br />55<br />55<br />57<br />57<br />59<br />61<br />64<br />64<br />64<br />64<br />68<br />Hi5<br />Flickr<br />Friendfeed<br />Twitter<br />Facebook<br />Ning<br />Gaia online<br />Classmates.com<br />Myspace<br />Buzznet<br />Tagged<br />Bebo<br />Source: Brian Solis/Google Ad Planner/Informationisbeautiful.com<br />