brand journalism

Selfie Generation Tunes in Brand Journalism

Selfie Generation Tunes in Brand Journalism.jpg

The Hashtag generation is interested in more than online narcissism as it connects and depends on online brand content.Online brand journalism is connecting with the selfie generation. Millennials view branded content as part of the creative mix online they talk about and share.

These conclusions flow from an online study, “Hashtag Nation: Marketing to the Selfie Generation.” It was commissioned by integrated marketing agency Havas Worldwide and based on 10,574 responses from people between the ages of 16 and 29 in 30 countries.

For marketers, the good news is that young people don't disdain brands, but instead invite them into their online social circle. "Nearly half of all young respondents characterize brands as “essential” to them — compared with just a quarter of those aged 55+," according to Havas Worldwide. But a word of warning to marketers: 4 in 10 respondents aged 16‒34 say brands don’t take young people seriously enough.

Survey results suggest younger people think of many brands as part of pop culture. "Far more than older generations," says Havas Worldwide, "young people say pop culture has helped to form their personalities (51 percent) and attitudes (50 percent)."

“Brands rely on youth not just for what’s in their wallets, but for what’s in their heads and hearts — their creative input, their enthusiastic evangelism, their energy,” says Andrew Bennet, Havas Worldwide global CEO. “And young people, in turn, want to be able to rely on brands to make their lives better and to help them stand out from the crowd. It’s a relationship built on mutual interests and trust — and it’s up to brands not to blow it by being disingenuous or failing to keep their promises.”

Technology companies such as Google, YouTube, Facebook and PayPal elicit brand passion. But Havas says any brand can mimic a tech brand persona with a strong digital presence. It is no longer Coke versus Pepsi; it is which brand can immerse someone in its digital experience with a great app, shareable content or a unique online experience.

The study also says companies in the "sharing economy," which are literally services accessed on a software platform, have immediate appeal to Millennials because they make life "more fluid and less expensive."

Joining the Consumer Journey

Self-educating consumers represent a new challenge — and a new opportunity.

Consumers are increasingly using online resources to do their homework, relying less on paid and earned media as trusted sources. This presents the challenge of getting your message to target audiences in ways they view as credible.

This challenge exists as more companies and organizations are tapping the opportunity latent in their databases of customers, contacts, stakeholders and employees. These databases represent a built-in opportunity to start engaging target audiences.

The most obvious form of engagement is to query your customers, stakeholders or employees about significant issues. Your questions can make your target audiences partners, not just targets.

Another form of engagement is to help consumers find the quality information they are seeking to make a decision. This may mean websites that aren't electronic sales brochures but more like magazines. The content might include genuine stories that are testimonials to your product, service or responsiveness — what some call brand journalism. Content also might include consumer ratings, safety information or simplified explanations or demonstrations. Most important, the content should answer questions and provide information that is relevant and useful.