Millenials: Technology Unites People

Catching up on old magazines, I found this interesting quote in the March 22nd issue of Time Magazine re: the relationship between millenials (defined as the generation born between 1982 and 1995) and their parents:

But we miss the point, warns social historian Neil Howe, if we weigh only how technology shapes a generation and not the other way around. The millennials were raised in a cocoon, their anxious parents afraid to let them go out in the park to play. So should we be surprised that they learned to leverage technology to build community, tweeting and texting and friending while their elders were still dialing long-distance? They are the most likely of any generation to think technology unites people rather than isolates them, that it is primarily a means of connection, not competition.

via Generation Next – TIME.

What it means: as I thought, it looks like millenials are using technology to create communities and get closer (and not the other way around as some people might decode). I especially like the explanation about fearful parents. Useful to understand the current demographics wave and its impact on “social media”.

Social Sites a Trusted Resource for Decision Making

Users put great trust in their social networks. One-half of Beresford respondents said they considered information shared on their networks when making a decision—and the proportion was higher among users ages 18 to 24, at 65%.

“This is a particularly important finding,” according to the report, “in that it suggests that these younger users have integrated social networks into their lives to such an extent that it has become a trusted resource for their decision making.”

via Social Site Users Depend on Their Networks – eMarketer.

What it means: as I mentioned a few days ago, social networks = friends = trusted source. Younger internet users will continue trusting their friends and using social tools for recommendations in the future.

Morgan Stanley: "Teenagers Don't Use Business Directories". Nothing New Except…

Morgan Stanley, the US research firm, released a report this week titled “How Teenagers Consume Media“. Written by a 15 year-old summer intern, the document explains what is relevant and what is not in today’s media/technology world from a teenager’s point of view.

Highlights:  

On newspapers: “No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarised on the internet or on TV. ”  The intern adds that most of his friends do read the free newspapers like Metro.

On radio: “Most teenagers nowadays are not regular listeners to radio. ” They listen to online radio though.

On social networking: ” Most teenagers are heavily active on a combination of social networking sites. Facebook is the most common, with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered and visiting >4 times a week. Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale. On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter.”

On directories: ” Directories Teenagers never use real directories (hard copy catalogues such as yellow pages). This is because real directories contain listings for builders and florists, which are services that teenagers do not require. They also do not use services such as 118 118 because it is quite expensive and they can get the information for free on the internet, simply by typing it into Google. “

On mobile phones: ” Mobile Phones 99% of teenagers have a mobile phone and most are quite capable phones. “

What it means: more anectodal than data-driven evidence, this report nonetheless confirms many things we take for granted now but it still holds a few surprises. The observation that teenagers don’t listen to radio regularly is, to a certain extent, a surprise to me. Radio used to play a very important social role when I was young but this might explain why we hear so much ’80s music on commercial radio these days. The industry don’t cater to youngsters. They’re trying to hold on to listeners from 20 years ago. A bit of a surprise on the cold reaction to Twitter as well but then again, they’re not prepared to build a second social graph after having spent so much time building one on Facebook.

On the other side, I’m not surprised at all by newspapers and business directories usage. I suspect very little teenagers (except for me!) used to read print newspapers in the past and Yellow Pages usage is usually driven by life events, most of them happening after you leave your parent’s house. So, no surprise there. I think what should concern directory publishers is two-fold. First, teenagers think that Google will provide them with the answers Yellow Pages used to provide to their parents on business searches. So, in effect, as Seth Godin said, “Google is the Yellow Pages”. Second, because they’re heavy users of Facebook, teenagers now bring their network of friends (their social graph) along with them wherever they go (including with their mobile device). That proximity enables easy word-of-mouth recommendations. So, what does that mean for publishers? It means they need to embed themselves wherever these kids will go for references as you might not be able to convince them to use your core web site.

Morgan Stanley: "Teenagers Don't Use Business Directories". Nothing New Except…

Morgan Stanley, the US research firm, released a report this week titled “How Teenagers Consume Media“. Written by a 15 year-old summer intern, the document explains what is relevant and what is not in today’s media/technology world from a teenager’s point of view.

Highlights:  

On newspapers: “No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarised on the internet or on TV. ”  The intern adds that most of his friends do read the free newspapers like Metro.

On radio: “Most teenagers nowadays are not regular listeners to radio. ” They listen to online radio though.

On social networking: ” Most teenagers are heavily active on a combination of social networking sites. Facebook is the most common, with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered and visiting >4 times a week. Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale. On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter.”

On directories: ” Directories Teenagers never use real directories (hard copy catalogues such as yellow pages). This is because real directories contain listings for builders and florists, which are services that teenagers do not require. They also do not use services such as 118 118 because it is quite expensive and they can get the information for free on the internet, simply by typing it into Google. “

On mobile phones: ” Mobile Phones 99% of teenagers have a mobile phone and most are quite capable phones. “

What it means: more anectodal than data-driven evidence, this report nonetheless confirms many things we take for granted now but it still holds a few surprises. The observation that teenagers don’t listen to radio regularly is, to a certain extent, a surprise to me. Radio used to play a very important social role when I was young but this might explain why we hear so much ’80s music on commercial radio these days. The industry don’t cater to youngsters. They’re trying to hold on to listeners from 20 years ago. A bit of a surprise on the cold reaction to Twitter as well but then again, they’re not prepared to build a second social graph after having spent so much time building one on Facebook.

On the other side, I’m not surprised at all by newspapers and business directories usage. I suspect very little teenagers (except for me!) used to read print newspapers in the past and Yellow Pages usage is usually driven by life events, most of them happening after you leave your parent’s house. So, no surprise there. I think what should concern directory publishers is two-fold. First, teenagers think that Google will provide them with the answers Yellow Pages used to provide to their parents on business searches. So, in effect, as Seth Godin said, “Google is the Yellow Pages”. Second, because they’re heavy users of Facebook, teenagers now bring their network of friends (their social graph) along with them wherever they go (including with their mobile device). That proximity enables easy word-of-mouth recommendations. So, what does that mean for publishers? It means they need to embed themselves wherever these kids will go for references as you might not be able to convince them to use your core web site.

Analysis: "Cable's answer to online's ad success: targeting"

“Cable’s answer to online’s ad success: targeting” via Yahoo! Tech.

By the end of the year, Canoe will start rolling out ads that let consumers request information, such as the hypothetical one for the Mustang, industry executives said. Cable operators involved are Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc., Charter Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp. and Bright House Networks.

Initially, over the next two months, they’ll tailor ads by demographic profile of a community, such as age and income. So households in a youth-oriented neighborhood might get pitches for concerts, while those in higher-income areas might get exotic travel ads. Previously, cable could only target an entire metropolitan area or town.

Ultimately, cable will target down to the ZIP code and individual household, although when that will happen isn’t clear.

Mini what it means: this article discusses the ability for cable networks to target advertising locally and by socio-demographics.  Interestingly enough, all the examples given in the article are either national advertisers with a local flavor or based on socio-demographics. No mention of the local advertiser.

Analysis: "Cable's answer to online's ad success: targeting"

“Cable’s answer to online’s ad success: targeting” via Yahoo! Tech.

By the end of the year, Canoe will start rolling out ads that let consumers request information, such as the hypothetical one for the Mustang, industry executives said. Cable operators involved are Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc., Charter Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp. and Bright House Networks.

Initially, over the next two months, they’ll tailor ads by demographic profile of a community, such as age and income. So households in a youth-oriented neighborhood might get pitches for concerts, while those in higher-income areas might get exotic travel ads. Previously, cable could only target an entire metropolitan area or town.

Ultimately, cable will target down to the ZIP code and individual household, although when that will happen isn’t clear.

Mini what it means: this article discusses the ability for cable networks to target advertising locally and by socio-demographics.  Interestingly enough, all the examples given in the article are either national advertisers with a local flavor or based on socio-demographics. No mention of the local advertiser.

What is MySpace?

Day 1 of the Kelsey Group’s MarketPlaces 2009 conference. Jeff Berman, President, Sales & Marketing for MySpace, was on stage for a keynote address.

Of note in his presentation:

  • Jeff described MySpace as a “social portal” halfway between a portal and a social network
  • 40% of online moms in the US are on MySpace each month
  • Their classifieds section, powered by Oodle, generates 500K postings a month
  •  They’re recently introduced MySpaceID, their equivalent of Facebook Connect or Google FriendConnect
  • When asked how do they differentiate MySpace from Facebook, he answers that Facebook is a social utility, a very powerful, elegantly designed, communication platform. But that there are no licensed music content and no licensed video content in it like you find in MySpace.
  • When asked “what is your USP?”, Berman said ” Massive content platform, social discovery around music”.
  • When asked if they’re interested in “local”, he started by replying that they’re careful before they go in a space because they don’t want to upset their large user base. They need the right model. They also need a foreseeable revenue component but he did say local was interesting to them.
  • Questioned about their target market, the MySpace exec said “everyone”

Here is the Kelsey Group blog summary of the presentation.

What it means: a couple of thoughts. First, I got the feeling that MySpace is in this bizarre brand/product positioning situation. They’d like to be Facebook and embrace social networking to the max but they’re not there yet. At the same time, the music/video component of the platform is what makes it compelling to a lot of users. If you’re a new music group, you need to be on MySpace and personally, I often start my search on the site when I want to listen to new acts bypassing search engines completely. I also like the level of activity in their classifieds section. Not bad at all! Finally, on the “local” question, I decoded from Berman’s answers that MySpace is not going to play in “local” in the short term. They’re still trying to find a model that will work. So, what is MySpace? A music/video site? A social network? Given that they’re owned by News Corp, I think they should morph into a “social entertainment” destination and platform. The launch of MySpace ID (now available on Yahoo! by the way) should increase their relevancy in the social ecosystem.

Twitter Traffic Explodes!

Remember my Twitter is the new “Facebook” post from last March where I posited Twitter was going to be the next darling in terms of social tools? It seems my gut feeling was right on that front as shown by Compete’s report on Twitter’s traffic and online attention growth in the last 3 months.

Highlights:

  • “In terms of U.S. visitors, Compete has seen Twitter traffic nearly double from February to April, currently attracting nearly 1.2 million people per month.
  • In terms of time spent on site as a share of all time spent online, Twitter has grown dramatically – more than quadrupling over the period.
  • Twitter is a weekday event – (…) On any typical weekday, Twitter is receiving more than twice the attention as a weekend day.
  • Nearly one quarter of all twitter visitors to the site are heavy users (6+ visits/month)
  • Splitting age demographics based on usage intensity shows that heavy users tend to skew older than visitors who only hit the site once a month. This could indicate that while the younger segments are more exploratory, the 25-44 year old segments have found more value in Twitter and started to ramp up usage.”

Twitter traffic growth 2008 compete

What it means: based on Rogers’ innovation adoption curve, I think we’ve seen the arrival of early adopters on Twitter. The first wave, innovators, had joined the service at SXSW 2007. The weekday usage and the older demographics make me think there’s a lot of work-based usage and that most people in the Weberati have discovered Twitter’s value.

Update: Praized is on Twitter. If you want to follow us, we are http://twitter.com/Praized

Is Word of Mouth the Great Local Search Disruptor?

Was reading this morning a great analysis by Mathew Ingram about a New York Times article describing the way “young people” get/read their political news. It’s clearly more and more about word of mouth and your social graph.

As Mathew says: “It’s not that there is anything earth-shatteringly new in the piece, mind you. But I think it does a great job of describing how digital “word of mouth” — in other words, social networking of all kinds including Twitter, IM, Facebook and so on — has become a dominant means of news delivery for young people in a way that I’m not sure old geezers like myself quite grasp, no matter how often people describe it”

The Times sums it up: “In essence, they are replacing the professional filter — reading The Washington Post, clicking on CNN.com — with a social one. (…) In one sense, this social filter is simply a technological version of the oldest tool in politics: word of mouth.”

What it means: I remember when I joined Yellow Pages Group in 1999 (called Bell ActiMedia at the time), old-timers used to tell me that the biggest “competitor” to directory publishers wasn’t other directory publishers (or Google or other online directories), it was word of mouth. People have always asked their friends for recommendations and it has always represented a large volume of local search “queries”.

Admittedly, news and local search are not totally the same. Local search information is usually more of a pull (i.e. someone looking for a product/service) than a push (i.e. someone broadcasting information about a new merchant they found). It’s also more “evergreen” than news, i.e. unless you’re a total local merchant junkie, you don’t need to learn in a timely fashion about a new restaurant opening in your neighborhood. But there’s the seed out there of future consumer behavior which could create a great disruption effect on local search. Who knows? It might become valuable to broadcast information about your favorite local merchants. As I estimated in this blog post, there’s potentially 7 more times online local conversations than online directories searches currently. Anyone who successfully harness these conversations will create very valuable local search inventory.

Baby-Boomers and Social Media

The latest issue of The McKinsey Quarterly discusses the opportunities around “Serving aging baby boomers” and talks about the future social needs of that large demographic group.

Creating community. The need for social connections is nothing new, but loneliness will be more acute for boomers than for any past generation because they will be less able to rely on traditional sources of community. Forty-six percent of the boomers will be unmarried by 2015, compared with 40 percent of the members of the silent generation at the same age; barely half of the boomers believe they can count on their families for a safety net, as compared with 60 percent of the younger members of the silent generation; and just 30 percent attend church weekly, as opposed to nearly 40 percent of the latter. These findings imply that loneliness will afflict more than one in five boomers, who will turn to several new sources of community.

Affinity groups. Given the diminished importance of traditional sources of community, boomers’ interests are likely to play a larger role in creating social outlets. Affinity groups have always sprung up around individual pursuits, such as cooking, reading, photography, or home improvement. As tech-savvy boomers age, these groups will increasingly meet both online (regularly) and in person (periodically). Already, boomer-specific groups—such as Boomj.com, which offers a social-networking service for boomers, and Eons.com, which combines on- and offline communities—are emerging.

baby boomer

Flickr picture by Bandita

What it means: I often talk about teens and tweens’ online behaviors in this blog as a way to forecast the future but it’s important, especially for traditional media companies, not to forget this very powerful consumer demographics. According to McKinsey, “by 2015, boomers will control nearly 60% of US net wealth and account for 40% of US consumption and income.” There’s clearly an opportunity in various social vertical sites but local will play a big part in there as well.