Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Connecting withYouth on Social Media Sites

As most marketers know, connecting with the youth of today is a daunting task. And while it seems that we were all teenagers yesterday, we just don't seem to "get it." Anyways, my lil' brother is a member of a band called Shooting for O'rian and they have done a good job marketing themselves, at least for a small band. They have only been in existence for several months now, but have more than 900 friends on Myspace. Overall, I am very impressed with how they are getting their name out. Additionally, they are able to reach out to many people in their age groups (i.e. teens and young adults). Therefore, it got me thinking. How can a small band get this but not corporate America? Well, I have been doing some thinking lately and I've compiled a list of several things that my lil' brothers band does right which corporate America does not.

1. Shooting for O'rian offers free downloads. I would almost recommend any company looking to connect with youth via a social media outlet (i.e. Livejournal, Xanga, Myspace, etc...) to offer some type of free, perhaps downloadable, content. This approach may be very effective for gaming companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony.

2. Be original. My lil' brothers band can play cover songs. For example, they played Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" at a recent concert, however, you won't see them put it on Myspace to simply make a name for themselves. I requested my brother to put that song on their Myspace profile for people to listen but he told me that his band wants to be known more the the music that they create themselves. The lesson learned is that anybody can re-hash the same old stuff. Be original!

3. Companies need to do a better job differentiating themselves. What is the real difference between Burger King and McDonalds? I don't know either. Now Taco Bell has clearly differentiated itself by getting consumers to "Think Outside the Bun." Additionally, co-sponsoring events such as X-games with Mountain Dew has clearly been a win-win.

4. Use social media venues to solicit user-generated content such as videos, screen shots and testimonials. Additionally, submit ideas (i.e. create polls on various topics of youth interest) in which younger consumers may be able to provide input. For example, a company could partner with Myspace to create a poll asking youthful consumers which attributes or rewards they like with a particular product or brand.

5. There are a lot of bands trying get ahead in the world. And they are using Myspace to promote themselves. Additionally, these bands are playing in small venues on over the weekends and participating in every "Battle of the Band" contest available. Companies looking to reach youth may want to look into sponsoring some of these "Battle of the Band" events. Unfortunately, I would not suggest sponsoring a band outright though, espcially since the small bands may be seen as "sellouts," thus reducing their credibility and costing a company more money in the long run.

Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments regarding some of my suggestions about ways to reach young consumers. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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