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(MVentur) Facebook: Go Beyond Hackathons if You Want to Win Future Youth

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Facebook is targeting youth as key to maintaining its future relevance but it needs to go beyond its traditional structured approach to engagement (Hackathons) and invest more in unstructured everyday interactions.

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(MVentur) Facebook: Go Beyond Hackathons if You Want to Win Future Youth

  1. 1. MVENTUR MEMO Q1 2013: FACEBOOKFACEBOOK: GO BEYOND HACKATHONS IF YOU WANT TO WINTHE FUTURE YOUTH MARKETFacebook is targeting youth as key to maintaining its future relevancebut it needs to go beyond its traditional structured approach toengagement (Hackathon) and invest more in unstructured everydayinteractions.
  2. 2. FACEBOOK NEEDS TO WIN YOUNG CREATORS NOT YOUNGUSERSThere are over 1 billion potential young coders in the world today.Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google need to focus on winning thiscognitive surplus of young creators.This week, Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey joined forces to support a new initiative, Code.org,that encourages young people to code.While it may make sense for any tech company to invest in the nextgeneration of engineers, the real challenge will be in winning the heartsand minds of the amateur developers not just in attracting professionaltalent to the company.We’re shifting from a consumer economy to a creator economy. A lot ofthe code creation is individual, outside of the company which techbrands can’t control. Where previous IT battles were won and lost in thedrive to get people onto a specific platform, the new battleground will bein getting 1 billion people to create for that platform.The traditional view of young creators may need an upgrade. Wheretech companies would previously concentrate on student hackathons,the focus needs to shift to an even younger market that is currentlyunderserved."We used to think that inviting students as young as 18 years old wasgreat," said Apples marketing chief, Phil Schiller, in an interview lastweek. But he said Apples iPhone and iPad software, called iOS, haslately attracted interest from an even younger group of developers."We would get emails after the developer conference from students, 16,15, 14 years old, saying I already have X number of apps in the appstore. Im a developer. Can I take part in this too?" he said.Becoming part of the teen coding conversation isn’t necessarily abouthackathons and university milk rounds but in developing a betterunderstanding of their lives and the social drivers that shape thecreation of content.
  3. 3. WHY YOUNG CREATORS?Youth are the most prolific creators online: 80% of youth aged 15-21create original content online compared to only 34% of people aged 30and above.Technology that connects people is first evolved in the youth market.SMS evolved within the youth market outside of telecoms industryinitiatives. Where adults saw only form factor limitations, youth saw aplatform to communicate through a shared language (i.e. txtpsk) thatdefined their peer group identity and tightened their tribe. The textingexperience developed by youth has now spread to the wider adultmarket.Rather than wait for telecoms to come good on delivering a positiveexperience, Facebook needs to tap into young creators to drive theexperience from the bottom-up.Youth Influence the Adult Market.What happens in the adult market tomorrow can be seen in the youthmarket today. The real potential in involving young creators is not inwaiting for big innovation to happen. SMS, Facebook, file sharing wereall conceived in the youth market.Today, tapping into young creators means running hackathons to sourcethis innovation. Tomorrow, it could mean curating different hackathonsthat are organized and run by people you don’t know. The largesthackathon today is already held in unlikely places, not Stanford or MITbut in Penn State University that is better known for its medical programthan its technological department.FACEBOOK NEEDS TO GET INTO THE 3HInnovation happens in the homes, hangouts and hideouts (3H) of youngpeople. It’s not just the hackers lauded by the press that tech companiesneed to focus on. In the new creation economy, innovation is happeningwherever youth get together to share their problems and collaborate tofind solutions.Apps and services created by youth won’t necessarily be the next bigthing. Youth won’t create an out of box solution for the mass market,moreover they will create small hacks that solve their personal
  4. 4. problems. Research needs to step inside the young creator’s naturalhabitat not only to find out what they are creating but to understand the‘why’ behind this behavior. Answering the why question will identifythese personal problems which in turn will help Facebook build solutionsto everyday pain points and need gaps.
  5. 5. About MVenturMVentur is the world’s first youth mobile consultancy.We have 2 roles:1) Advisor to our clientsWe oversee marketing plans, act on advisory panels and consult ourclients. Find out more about our consultancy work.2) Commercial think tank for the mobile industryWe promote progressive marketing ideas that help mobile companies gobeyond advertising. Read more about our youth mobile opinion pieces.www.MVentur.com

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