Walt Disney once said, “of all our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” Perhaps he was more prescient than anyone realized at that time: Decades later, the onslaught of social media and the emergence of mobile phones have made his assertion seem truer than ever, as consumers have gained the tools to share a picture with the global population in a matter of seconds. Today, the fascination with pictures has come to define communication that spans both the offline and online worlds.
According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data, sharing visual content is indeed a universal phenomenon — but it is most prevalent in countries like China, India, and Brazil:
Some believe that our obsession with taking and sharing photographs speaks to a modern narcissistic culture. Indeed, Pew Research reports that the majority of Millennial consumers post “selfies” on social networking sites. However, when Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar “selfie” became the most retweeted tweet ever this week, narcissism was hardly part of the conversation. Instead, Ellen’s post exemplified what can happen when the power of the picture meets the power of social media: large-scale awareness, excitement, and engagement.
We just published our annual report on The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2013, US. This data-rich report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for consumers’ level of technology adoption, usage and attitudes. Our annual benchmark report is based on Forrester's Technographics® online benchmark survey that we've been fielding since 1998. The report covers a wide range of topics, such as online activities, social media activities, retail behaviors and preferences, and device usage—for ‘traditional’ technologies like TVs and laptops—as well as more emerging technologies like smartphones, tablets and wearables.
We analyze our findings through a generational lens, including Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. While most Americans are already online, we are seeing major strides in mobile Internet access. In 2013, all generations are connected—81% of the US adult population goes online. But there are still generational differences in smartphone usage: Seven of ten Gen Zers and Gen Yers use a smartphone, but only 18% of the Golden Generation do.
My eighty-six-year-old mother called me last night to tell me that she’s been “boiling eggs wrong all my life.” It seems she’d watched a cooking show and received some “best practice” advice. My mom is an excellent cook, so this made me realize that no matter how seasoned a veteran you are, there’s no harm (and often some good) in a review of the basics. In that spirit, I am going to share some advice for a question that comes to me quite frequently:
“What are the best practices for leveraging an industry or business award?”
First, deal with the basics: the press release.
Issue a press release. Be sure to include a quote from the awarding body about their judgment process and criteria. If the award is based upon a customer story, work really hard to include a quote from the customer in the press release. It’s OK to use the template that the award giver has probably given you, but make sure the press release is search-engine-optimized for your keywords.
Get aggressive on press outreach. Focus on reporters or social influencers (bloggers, analysts) who have been diffident or unresponsive in the past. If you can offer up an interview with the co-award-winning client, you have a very good chance of getting some coverage.
Post the news on all your social media sites.
If a customer was involved, try to convert to a “customer case study” press release. The barrier to this might be lower now that the customer’s use of your product/service is already public knowledge.
It's been more than a year since Forrester published its original Facebook factor report, which quantified the impact of a Facebook fan on brand interactions for US online adults, and social media has only become a bigger part of consumers’ online experience. Social media is engrained in the lives of US consumers, and we found this to also be true for US youth. Our latest report, “The Facebook Factor: US Online Youth” answers the question, “How much more likely are youth Facebook fans to purchase, consider, and recommend brands than non-fans?” We also analyzed youth engagement with brands on other social networking sites like Twitter and Google+. As in the original report, we used logistic regression modeling to uncover the effect of Facebook fans or Twitter followers on brands for the youth market.
In the report, we analyzed the “Facebook factor” for four brands that are popular with youth: Converse, Disney, iTunes, and Starbucks. We found that US online youth who engage with these brands on social media are much more likely to have made a purchase from, consider, and recommend each of these brands than non-engagers.
Personal communications services, which we define as communication and collaboration services that merge private, social and business communication in one personal view, are becoming part of the work environment. Services like Skype or Google Apps allow users to speak and send messages across multiple communications services to communicate and collaborate just as they would as consumers within a corporate context. Empowered employees expect to use these collaboration channels not just for personal use but also for work.
Although Skype has been around for more than decade, the market for personal communications services in a business context is still very much evolving. The personal communication experience is complex and challenging, as individuals wrestle with multiple communications services to manage an increasingly diverse set of communication and collaboration technologies.
It should come as no surprise that regulators and organizations alike struggle to set and enforce guidelines for social media activity. It’s not just that the rise of social media is rapidly transforming the way we interact with people, customers, and brands; but also how many ways this transformation is happening.
The core issue is that social media alters the way we as individuals share who we are, merging our roles as people, professionals, and consumers. As we share more of ourselves on a growing number of social networks, questions quickly surface:
How frequently and on what social networks should we post?
When should we present ourselves in our professional role versus sharing our personal opinions?
Is it okay to be social media friends with co-workers, clients, or your boss?
These are complicated matters for individuals, and absolute conundrums for organizations concerned with how employees behave and interact with others in, and outside of, the workplace. Their questions are even more complicated:
Can organizations dictate how their employees use social media?
Can they monitor social media conversations or use it to learn more about prospective job applicants?
When does the personal connection allowed by social media tools cross the line from business to personal?
Social media platforms like Facebook and Google+ are fast becoming a big topic for business. Consumers are embracing these communication and collaboration channels for more than just sharing holiday memories. According to software provider Invesp, one-third of workers use social media at work for at least an hour a day. Most of us also expect to use these collaboration channels increasingly in our work environments to improve the information flow.
We want to communicate at work as we are used to communicating when off work – with or without the consent of our employers. Today, however, Invesp data shows that less than 20% of companies have integrated social media with their customer care, sales or product development. Moreover, communication culture is part of business culture and work flexibility and as such impacts any business’ endeavor to attract and retain creative talent. Data by office solutions vendor Intelligent Office, indicates that 25% of people say they would not work for a company that does not allow social media at work.
For IT and business leaders, these social dynamics bring their own opportunities and challenges, as social media communication:
Provides an innovative and attractively priced communication infrastructure.Top management and business line managers alike increasingly recognize that social media forms a fundamental channel for informal communications. Social media offers cost effective collaboration and communication channels.
Of the many questions I get from clients, many center on the use of social media for customer engagement purposes — because sometimes IT staff are asked to block employees from using social media. But what should you do when the owners of the business take to social media?
Today, a small restaurant in Arizona is the hottest thing on social media. Their Facebook page has gone from 2,854 likes on May 14 to 74,687 on May 16. Was this incredible growth in “likes” the result of some incredibly successful social media campaign? Well not exactly.
Let’s put it this way: social media and security don’t work together very well today. Marketing professionals who see social media as a vital communication channel view security as a nuisance, whereas Security pros view services like Facebook and Twitter as trivial pastimes that expose the business to enormous risk. The problem is, when it comes to social media, these two facets of the organization need to come to terms with each other – and this was clearly on display Tuesday when the Dow Jones briefly plummeted over 100 points due to false Tweets from AP’s hacked Twitter accounts that indicated President Obama had been injured by explosions at the White House.
This recent breach signifies two things: 1) the potentially damaging impact of social media is real and growing, and 2) companies today aren’t doing enough to mitigate the risks.
As social media becomes a legitimate source of news and information, the implications for inaccurate or inappropriate behavior continue to grow. Damaging or disparaging comments on Twitter (whether intended or not), can have a real impact on your business and the way customers view your company and brand. Companies need to do more to protect their organization from social media risk because:
“How can you reinvent your brand to appeal to younger consumers?” This is the million-dollar question, and the contestant sitting in the hot seat is you. But don’t panic; why not use a lifeline? Ask the audience! That was the approach car manufacturer Buick recently took when designing the 2013 Encore luxury model.
Striving to portray a more fun, contemporary side of the established auto brand and win loyalty among younger consumers, Buick promoted its "Pinterest to Dashboard" contest by calling on participants to create Pinterest boards that spoke to personal styles and passions. The Buick design team selected a winning collection to become the inspiration for the interior and exterior designs of the automobile. While this new look is not yet available on the market, Buick managed to connect with younger consumers in an exciting and relevant way. Through Pinterest, the company engaged 10 extremely influential bloggers (the winner of the competition has nearly 4 million Pinterest followers), dozens of lifestyle editors from media and publication companies, and millions of Pinterest users whose online responses indicated the winning pinboard.
Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data suggests that Buick certainly chose the right platform to reach its desired market. Launched only three years ago, Pinterest is currently the third-largest social media platform in the US behind Facebook and Twitter. Of those 5.5 million US online adults who use Pinterest to research products for purchase, 65% are younger than 35 and 33% have an average household income of more than $100,000.