MRX 2018 Planning Guide: 6 Ways to Engage with Digital Citizens Before the End of the Year

By Nicole Mitchell, Knowledge Specialist

It is that time again when marketers begin taking stock of the business year and look ahead to plan for 2018. What campaigns were effective? What initiatives could have used some work? We will be rolling out a series of posts to help you plan for next year and think critically about the verticals, projects and topics you want to prepare for as we close out the 4th quarter.

Social media use by today’s “digital citizens” is one marketing focus that seems to change the most rapidly. How do we pin down a strategy when a constant stream of new approaches, applications and social media platforms are released constantly? Here are some ways that you can engage with the public via social before 2017 ends:

  1. Think about what the ever-increasing use of mobile devices means for research. Let’s face it, smartphones and tablets are not passing technological trends; they have evolved to become an extension of the right arm for many marketers and global citizens in every generation*. We are shifting away from using these devices purely as news-gathering and communication tools and employing them for transaction purposes all the time. Gen Xers are just as likely to compare the price of products, read the news or get directions on their mobile device as millennials are. If we fail to engage via mobile, we are failing to tap into insights from a large swath of our potential audience that might only be accessible a certain way (in-the-moment).
  2. Head to Facebook and create video content. SSI polled respondents across six major research markets about their social media use, and 90% stated that they visit Facebook on a weekly basis (at the very least). Only 34% visit Twitter every week. In terms of video sharing sites, Youtube continues to be popular with 57% stating that they visited the site within the past week. When conducting global research, keep in mind that online communication habits and platform preferences vary from culture to culture. Understanding the specific local landscape when planning any study is key.
  3. Looking to reach young people? Consider marketing through multiple social platforms. Millennials are significantly more likely to engage in social media photo and video sharing sites such as Instagram and Snapchat. 72% of Millennials consume media via YouTube and more importantly on their mobile devices.  Make sure your content is mobile friendly.
  4.  Consider ad placements where people are most likely to go communicate with one another. According to SSI’s research, many people say that the people they interact with on social media are different from the people they interact with in their “offline life.” Not surprisingly, Baby Boomers are more likely to be connecting with their children, while Gen-Xers, in the midst of their careers, are finding social media a good way to stay in touch with current and former work colleagues. Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to use social media to connect with people they have never met in person than Baby Boomers.
  5. Build relationships between your brand and the consumer in much the same way as people forge digital relationships between people. Only a third of Baby Boomers feel it’s possible to have emotionally meaningful relationships on social networks, while more than half of Millennials think it’s possible. Perhaps the fact that Millennials are more likely to use video and other rich media in their online social interactions (another finding from this study) makes those relationships appear to be more genuine. Or perhaps as people age their opinion about what authenticity in relationships means will change and today’s 20-somethings will have less faith in the authenticity of virtual relationships as they age.
  6. Consider ways to appropriately leverage the imagery that people are posting for public viewing online. Companies like Stitch Fix ask new users (if they feel comfortable) to provide links to their Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts in order to better understand the fashion choices made by their new customers. This way, they can plan out outfits to send in a box to subscribers. Posting photos online is hugely popular. Three-hundred million photos are posted to Facebook every day and tens of millions more are uploaded every day to Instagram and other sites. Yet we’re apparently not comfortable with sharing unfiltered photos of ourselves. Millennials were significantly more likely to crop or resize a photo or alter it by adding a filter or photo effect, or to edit out blemishes than older generations.

Understanding these generational differences between types of mobile activity gives us an insight into which activities will likely be done on mobile devices as the norm in a few years. And as mobile devices become essential to more and more of our daily activities we’re reminded that if we are not engaging people on their mobile devices for our research, we’re becoming more and more distant from many of the people whose opinions we want to hear.

*Millennials were born between 1982-1998; Gen Xers were born between 1966-1981; Baby Boomers were born between 1947-1965.