Friday, June 05, 2009

How To Use Social Media To Market To Gen Y

By Nicole Driscoll
Original Post: YPulse

Today's Ypulse Sponsored post is from Nicole Driscoll (pictured below) at Fuse, anchor sponsor for this year's Ypulse Youth Marketing Mashup. This post is part of that sponsorship

How To Use Social Media To Market To Gen Y

Social media networking sites are around every corner we turn. Spreading like the scare of swine flu, the explosion in usage of these sites by Millennials requires our understanding of them. Use of these sites, such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, are simple to navigate: create a username, upload some photos and scrawl a few sentences into your profile, however, achieving legitimacy is another story altogether.

Millennials are fluent in the ways of social media; according to the Center for Media Research, 74% of 18 – 34 year-olds have a Facebook or MySpace account and 8% use the newer, trendier Twitter. Even with its popularity, social media networking is still a fairly new concept to the masses; some even venture that the Twitter phenomenon is merely a flash in the pan. For those people still not convinced, note that Twitter had a staggering 17 million unique visitors in April 2009, almost doubling from 9.3 million in March, as reported by the digital research company ComScore, and according to New York Times reporter Paul Boutin, “Twittermania has just begun.”

Generation Y has grown-up with social media as a way of life and use these profile-centered, content-sharing sites for much more than just social networking, they are also utilizing them for self-marketing. Millennials can easily customize their online public space by posting their likes and dislikes, photos of themselves and their friends, even setting it to the music of their choice. Many Millennials also use platforms to display their brand loyalties; in a study conducted by Fuse and the University of Massachusetts, 29% of teenagers surveyed had “friended” a company on a social networking site.

With all of this attention around social media, it seems obvious that brands wanting to reach the coveted Gen Y consumer would jump on the bandwagon. What better way to reach Millennials than go where the Millennials are, right? Not so fast.

In the same study conducted by Fuse and the University of Massachusetts, it was found that social media advertising was consistently ranked as one of the lowest preferred platforms among 13 – 18 year-olds surveyed. The explanation for this is due to companies’ common misuse of the online networks that the Gen Y set regards as a sort of trademark of their generation.

With an ongoing decline in ad spending, many studies predict a rise in the use of social networking for advertising, however this rise could result in a clutter of brand space sites on Facebook and the clogging of brand chatter on Twitter. How can your brand stand out among the rest on social media sites?

- Social media networking takes time. It isn’t as simple as creating a profile. Take the time to learn your platform, identify who your core audience is on that platform, and then consider how to authentically communicate with them

- Strive to maintain legitimacy. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not; e.g. giving your PR team the job of creating “fan sites” for your brand. Consumers will find out, and they won’t be happy

- Create and maintain a conversation with your consumer. The beauty of online networking is the real-time conversation that it creates. Dedicate time to searching the conversation to learn what people are saying about your brand, and respond. If people feel strongly enough about your company or product to tweet, post or blog about it, whether it be positive or negative, take the time to respond. When a social networker provides good feedback, reinforce that; on the contrary, if someone is sharing a negative experience with your brand, utilize the platform to remedy it. This is perhaps the greatest asset of the social networking experience for brands, the opportunity to engage with the consumer; take advantage.

- Know when NOT to use social networking. Fudging your way along the social media path will not go unnoticed. Most important to maintaining legitimacy in the social networking circle: don’t fake it.

Social media networking can be a great marketing tool and should be utilized. Follow these important points and you’ll reach a huge and attentive audience.

More on Fuse

Fuse is a leading youth marketing agency that connects brands with youth through sports, music, fashion and other relevant youth cultural interests. Fuse strives to help brands reach a mass audience while maintaining credibility with key influencers.

For more coverage of youth marketing, go to the Ypulse Youth Marketing Channel sponsored by Youth Marketing Connection.

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