Learning from Generation Facebook

Social networking–a phrase, a marketing platform, a way of life. Marketing and PR has infiltrated what was once an underground website aimed at bored college students (you’re so behind if you haven’t seen The Social Network yet), and has been working out how to best capitalize on an 800,000,000-strong audience. A quick Google search will confirm that everyone is not only trying to get a piece of the action, but give their incredibly mediocre two cents about how to use “Facebook as a professional tool.” Social networking has become a key part of any well-rounded advertising campaign, which is why I’m not going to repeat it. Instead, I’m going to give you a heads up on a key divide in those 800 million.

There are two types of social networking users. There are the people, some now as old as 30, who have been using Facebook since its inception. And then there’s everybody else. That first group of social-networkers’ values, views and utilizes sites such as Facebook in an entirely different way. As a daily form of e-mail. A back stock of every photo they’ve been in since age 18. A personalized and well-thought-out piece of themselves out there in the virtual universe. It’s not a professional tool–it’s a communication tool for everyday life.

The 18-25 age range accounts for more than 40% of the social networking user population. And the divide is evident. This generation, which has spent almost half a lifetime surrounded by digital marketing, is trained and self-taught in virtual information discrimination–that is, they will quickly and easily differentiate between information that’s useful, and information that’s not. Bottom line, the internet is jammed full of a lot of useless garbage. So if you’re going to put the effort into social marketing and PR, you better be sure you can give the potential customer something useful. Provide up-to-the-minute access to concise information (The New York Times Facebook Page is an excellent example). Provide limited “subscriber” access to something tangible, be it a coupon code, a chance at sideline seats or a free music download. Hacking into Generation Facebook will take a bit of seduction and prowess. But once you get there, you’ll be reaching a higher percentage of smart, discerning and loyal customers.

Katherine Timm
Director of Business Development
MOOD: Social

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