The Next Generation in 2019 and Beyond

Key Insights from Day 3 at Social Media Week in Austin, TX

Two key ideas stood out for me on Day 3 of this conference. In this industry, change is a constant. And that continues as Gen Z emerges with new ideas and expectations. And if you haven’t gotten comfortable with the Age of Data Driven Marketing, it’s time:

It’s a New World

Not a single panel at this three-day conference covered the topic of Millennials. However, in contrast, there were many presentations and panels devoted to the topic of Generation Z. This generation from 1996 to the present is the most Internet dependent generation that we’ve seen in America. In fact, David Fossas with WP Engine shared a finding from their quantitative study on generational differences saying that, “55% of Gen Z can’t last more than 5 hours without the internet.” Just let that sink in for a minute…And while prior generations use the Internet primarily for gaining information, Gen Z uses it for entertainment first and foremost. The implication for marketers is that we must learn to lead with entertainment in our digital marketing efforts if we want to resonate.

“55% of Gen Z can’t last more than 5 hours without the Internet” —  David Fossas,WP Engine

“55% of Gen Z can’t last more than 5 hours without the Internet”
David Fossas,WP Engine

It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing our efforts to build brands and drive sales through social media as a popularity contest. Rachel Pedersen, a leading social media thinker, challenged us to think beyond that. She says that we should think strategically about our organic social in order to use it as a testing ground. Our results from organic social can inform us of the right audiences where we should ‘double down’ as well as tell us where not to bother. Rachel believes that testing ground should extend to new social media platforms such as Tik Tok. For those unaware, Tik Tok, formerly Musical.ly, is a social video platform with over 500 million global monthly active users (comprised predominantly of Gen Z). Not surprisingly, Tik Tok is a platform that is all about entertainment.

When it comes to this new generation, perhaps Meredith Gonsalves of Deloitte expressed it best, “Urgency is power.” It’s time to get comfortable with disappearing content, because FOMO is real. And that reality can be to the marketer’s advantage. Stories creation and consumption is up 842% since early 2016, but Instagram is where the story has really begun to dominate. Meredith was quick to say that our ‘Insta-story’ content has to be differentiated. It must be unique and something they wouldn’t see anywhere else that they experience your brand. It’s also our job to inspire their action–they like to participate in the story and interact with you. You can drive them to a link, a landing page or to a direct message (DM) for more. But you ultimately draw them in with something entertaining and disruptive.

It’s All About the Data

“We are in the Age of Data Driven Marketing,”  — Andres Marquez, Vers CREATIVE

“We are in the Age of Data Driven Marketing,”
— Andres Marquez, Vers CREATIVE

“We are in the Age of Data Driven Marketing,” Andres Marquez of Vers CREATIVE established in his discussion about Google Analytics. Data in its simplest form provides focus to our marketing efforts. It enhances our decision making, but only if we are focused on the right data and KPIs that ladder back up to the overarching business and marketing objectives. If so, the data will tell you what to do, where to invest your marketing spend, when to increase or decrease spending, who you should be targeting and if your initiatives are working.

According to Brian Massey of Conversion Sciences, we have many biases as marketers. We believe that a new and novel idea will perform well simply because it’s new (the Novelty Bias). We believe that our best idea will perform well simply because we want it to (the Confirmation Bias). However, we need to be aware of these biases both when planning and optimizing our content marketing plans. Brian recommends continually testing and learning to build stronger and more effective Content Landing Pages on your websites. And that means collecting the data and using it to inform the best way to drive website visitors to take action. Brian urges us to find the stories in our analytics:

  • Which of the articles is getting visits?

  • Which of the articles is getting conversions?

  • Which of the articles should we double down on?

  • Which of the articles should we update?

  • Which of the articles should I abandon?

Attending another session from Meredith Gonsalves of Deloitte, she shared an eye-opening statistic from Simply Measured. “60% of marketers identify ‘measuring ROI’ as one of their top 3 social media challenges.” In theory, it’s as simple as dividing the profit by the total investment. But social media value is not always about dollars, because it depends on your objective. That objective will inform what you should measure. For example, if your social media goal is to drive brand awareness, you would measure success against metrics like audience reach and engagement, rather than revenue generated or profit. However, when it comes to measuring ROI in terms like cost per click (CPC) or cost per 1000 impressions (CPM), it’s important to pair that quantitative metric with the qualifying context of a benchmark. There are also a number of other tools that you can use to measure ROI in social media, from Google Analytics to platform-specific pixels to UTM parameters. The bottom line for success in 2019 and beyond is to ensure that your team and your agency understand your objectives. They must be clear on what they should measure, be using the right quantitative tools and employing best practices for qualitative analysis to effectively guide your marketing decision-making.