“The New Millennial Model for Business: Under-30 Leaders Sound Off on This Generations Impact”
This session featured a panel of millennials from the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was moderated by Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes Magazine. The panelists were Elise Andrew, the creator and editor of I Fucking Love Science, Jeremy Cabalona, a community manager at Vine, and Rachel Gogel, a Creative Director at The New York Times. Each of the panelists brought a different perspective because they each had a different path to lead them to the position they have today.
It is predicted that by 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce will be comprised of millennials. As more and more millennials are becoming leaders, they are bringing tech-savvy ideas and changing the way business is done. Each panelist stressed the importance of technology in their personal and professional lives. Elise Andrew talked about how she created a Facebook Page so she could share articles and funny things she found on the Internet without clogging up her friends’ News Feed with science posts. Similarly, Rachel Gogel discussed how technology and social media are transforming businesses from fashion to publishing. Gogel has worked at companies such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Travel and Leisure, and GQ, and she now works at The New York Times. Her experience spans many industries but digital played a large role in each.
A common question in recent years has been “How do we manage millennials in the workplace?” With millennials making up such a large portion of the global workforce, people are now beginning to wonder about Gen X. Jeremy Cabalona stressed the importance of treating them like a peer because there is so much you can learn from them. He even said he has recommended hiring a 15-year-old consultant for Vine because they really have become the experts on that platform.
One of the most interesting responses from the panel came as a question from the audience. An attendee asked a classic interview question: “What is your five-year plan?” All three of the panelists had the same basic answer: A five-year plan doesn’t work anymore because the landscape is constantly changing. With the rise of social media and advances in technology there will be jobs in five years that don’t even exist today, so it is impossible to plan that far ahead in today’s world.
“Is Social Media Just Media? The Future of Paid, Earned and Content”
The second session I attended was with Matt Britton and Lisa Weinstein, and moderated by Mike Shields, senior editor of The Wall Street Journal. Matt Britton is the CEO and Founder of MRY, the creative agency that was one of the first social media marketing stewards. Lisa Weinstein is the President of Global Digital, Data, and Analytics at Starcom MediaVest Group, the largest media shop in the world.
Weinstein and Britton discussed how social media marketing is currently at a crossroads because Facebook has stressed that brands will have to pay to get visibility for any of their posts, and most social platforms have rolled out “promoted post” ad models. This shift causes brands to have to pay to play in social. In addition, both Weinstein and Britton agreed that there really isn’t such thing as a USP anymore. All brands claim their product works and is the best – so nothing is unique. This is where content comes in. Creative briefs need to shift from focusing on a USP to focusing on content and the unmet needs of the consumer. Brands will have to be more selective in the content they produce – as Britton said, “The days of ‘Like this if you like Wednesdays!’ are gone.” If a brand can deliver on that unmet need and provide compelling content, then they will be successful.
Matt Britton brought up dark social and his views on whether social networks such as Whisper, Snapchat, and Yik Yak were a good solution for combatting the zero organic reach on Facebook. He argued that brands don’t really have a role on these platforms and that consumers don’t want brands to be there. On Snapchat for example, brands think they have a role in branded stories and events, but consumers may not. Similarly, Discover on Snapchat is not set up for success. Facebook and Twitter naturally integrate sponsored content into the overall user experience, but for Snapchat it is on a completely separate page. Many teens and other users are using the app daily but not even going to the Discover page because it is not an integral part of the user experience for the platform. Weinstein added that from an ad model perspective she loved it, but from a consumer perspective Snapchat hasn’t fully figured it out yet.
Britton and Weinstein also brought up an interesting point – “brands are people, people are brands” and that most times brands don’t influence audiences, people do. This is evident in Marc Cuban having more followers than the Dallas Mavericks or Bill Gates having more followers than Microsoft.
Overall, it was a very interesting discussion about the challenges that marketers face in getting their message across to consumers. In an increasingly crowded space, brands need to act as publishers and develop focused content that meets the unmet needs of their consumers, with an emphasis on quality content over quantity.
“Networks of Influence: Hosted by Translation, Elite Daily, and Crimson Hexagon.”
My final session of the day was my favorite session of the week. It included a presentation by Marcus Collins, Head of Social Engagement at Translation, with an overview of a social analytics tool by Mitch Brooks, a Senior Research Strategist at Crimson Hexagon. The session ended with a Q&A with David Arabov, Co-founder and CEO of Elite Daily.
First, Collins shared a presentation on networks of influence and how important they are for marketers today. He defined networks as groups of people that exchange information, experiences, data, and knowledge. Networks have shared beliefs, unwritten rules, rituals, and social rules. Essentially, our networks significantly impact our behavior. Collins explained that our brains are wired to imitate people and we are most likely to imitate people that are like us.
The rise of the connected class and the social web have made it theoretically easier to reach target audiences but more difficult to forge authentic connections with consumers. Traditional methods of demographic-segmentation will no longer work, because demographics fail to fully describe people. For example, a person who lives in a certain area or falls into a particular age range does not tell you much about their interests or behaviors. Marketing to the connected class will require a deeper understanding of human behavior and to see consumers as complete human beings. This can be done through leveraging networks of influence.
As marketers, we need to understand that we are in the business of behavior adoption. Broad demographic information does not help us anymore, so “target audiences” are useless. Instead, we need to be focusing on target networks, which have social norms and can influence the rest of the people within that network. This will completely change the dynamic of how we target consumers, and if done correctly can help us reach consumers more effectively in order to impact their behavior.