Millennial Migration: What Will Happen to Branded and Curated Content?

Millennial Migration: What Will Happen to Branded and Curated Content?

As I sat at my undergraduate graduation this past weekend, I saw hundreds of my peers taking photos, Instagramming, Snapchatting, and posting photos to other social media sites. A quick glance through my various social media timelines confirmed my suspicion. Their actions were not simply to capture memories but to share a change in their social status with the digital world.

For Millennials, the act of posting photos to social media is a chance for instant gratification. Quantified by likes and comments, memories have evolved far from the old shoebox in which my parents used to store 4×6 photo prints. With so much thought devoted to the caption and composition of each photo uploaded to social media, it is easy to understand why little thought is given to the future of said content.

Similar to the migration of downloaded music to streaming (this reference definitely labels me as a Millennial because I said “downloaded music”, and not CD’s), social media usage trends are bound to change with the demands of future generations. What will happen to all of the memories that my peers deposited on Facebook? Will they be lost forever when platform use declines? Will an entrepreneur charge to migrate and reformat digital content?

While I do not have immediate answers to the questions I posed above, I do foresee a major challenge for brands that invest heavily in their digital brand across the most popular social media platforms. Simply posting branded content and investing heavily in digital brand management is not enough as culture rapidly advances into an uncertain digital abyss. Millennials are known for varying heavily in preferences depending on the day and social climate.

Gen Y’s behavior is driven by an innate desire to stay in the know and on top of current trends. Shouldn’t brands and digital content producers do the same? It is important for brands to choose their digital investments wisely in the coming years as what is popular today may not be in six months.

It would be a shame for thousands of dollars of branded and curated digital content housed on social media platforms to be lost because of a brand’s inability to keep up with consumer trends and preferences. I’d suggest that brands and individuals refrain from investing all of their money and memories so heavily into just one or two social media platforms. It’s hard to tell a consistent story when the content that contributed greatly to the company’s advertising economies of scale is inaccessible or rarely viewed on an extinct platform.

For all of you social media and brand managers out there, heed this message: monitor your consumers’ media consumption habits and platforms, and be prepared to migrate curated and branded content from platform to platform. Afterall, it’s called brand management, not brand sit back and watch!

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist and researcher based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

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Millennial Minute: The Degradation of United’s Brand in 11 Memes

Millennial Minute: The Degradation of United’s Brand in 11 Memes

I had originally planned on writing an in depth piece covering the latest United Airlines fiasco, but it occurred to me that this situation calls for a visual representation of the degradation of their legacy airline brand. United is a hallmark example of a brand that has yet to understand millennial consumers. If this was observation was not evident when they banned two female teenage passengers from wearing leggings aboard a plane (on an award ticket), it has to be now.

I will not delve into the politics and practices of the airline, but will briefly touch upon their response to the latest explosive situation. Rather than getting ahead of the “internet” (referring to the trolls and meme lords) and issuing an authentic apology, the brand defended their gate agent’s decision and refused to budge on their corporate stance. In the short time following the incident, thousands of likes, shares, and comments were traded on social media platforms that placed the brand in an unflattering light. As if the brand hadn’t already faced issues with attracting millennial fliers, they managed to turn thousands of them into enemies overnight. Individuals who may have been considered passive or non-rejectors of the brand have been exposed to this brand-damaging content every time they scroll through their social media feeds. This exposure builds to create subconscious brand biases that ultimately influence consumer-buying behavior.

“Give the Internet a meme, and they’ll laugh for a day. Teach the Internet to utilize an open source template for creating and sharing memes, and they’ll laugh for a week.”

Take a look at the top memes below:

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist and researcher based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

Image Sources:
http://heavy.com/news/2017/04/united-airlines-doctor-chinese-passenger-video-removal-memes/8/
http://rollingout.com/2017/04/11/twitter-fire-brutal-unitedairlines-abuse-passenger/
http://www.evilmilk.com/pictures/United_Airlines_Memes.htm
http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1241770-united-airlines-passenger-removal
http://heavy.com/news/2017/04/united-airlines-doctor-chinese-passenger-video-removal-memes/3/
http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-united-airlines-memes.php
https://me.me/i/when-you-successfully-make-it-on-the-united-plane-12687300
http://www.funniestmemes.com/funny-memes-i-made-a-new-logo-for-united-airlines/
https://me.me/t/maximum-overbork?s=new
http://www.evilmilk.com/pictures/United_Airlines_Memes.htm

I Fell For It.

I Fell For It.

I walked right in, handed over my money and did exactly what they wanted me to do… I Instagrammed my hand dipped Magnum ice cream bar. “Why is this a problem?”, the ice cream addicted reader might ask? It was all a clever advertising activation.

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My mad creation in the graffiti photo booth at the Magnum Pleasure Store in New York City.

The Magnum “Pleasure Store” located in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City is a textbook advertising activation. Customers select a chocolate or vanilla base. Then they choose one of three chocolate coatings and add up to 3 dry toppings, ranging from dried fruits to Himalayan pink salt. What seems like a pleasant place to take your significant other for ice cream at the end of a date is really a well thought out content generator.

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What does an activation actually mean? A brand activation occurs when a company (or its advertising agency) brings a product to the consumer in an innovative, personal way. These activations are created in large cities with temporary “pop-up” stores. Activations differ from print, digital, or TV advertisements because they create an experience around consuming the product. This experience creates an emotional, tangible connection between the brand and the consumer.

The Magnum NYC pop up was no different from other similar concepts, except for the ace hidden up their sleeves: photo booths. Specially designed photo booths encouraged visitors to snap pictures on their cell phones. The photos of freshly dipped dessert bars are then posted to social media sites. The insides of the booths are decorated with four different designs spanning simple, artsy, and everything in between. The outside panels cleverly featured #magnumpleasurestore and #magnum to entice visitors to post their custom creations on their feeds.

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There IS a method to this madness. What if I told you that Magnum didn’t need to sell more units of their ice cream bars? In fact, last summer they beat Q3 sales expectations by 8%). You’d probably call me crazy and respond with something like: “of course they want to sell more ice cream bars; that’s why they charged me $7!”

Pause and let’s dive a little deeper. Remember when I said the store concept was an innovative content generator? Magnum, along with its team at KBS+, Mosaic, and Oglivy & Mather changed the way consumer brands incorporate experiential marketing into their mix. Not only did they have thousands of bragadocious millennials posting their personal creations all over social media, they actually made them pay to do so. Genious, right? The agency-client team created a low pressure environment encouraging customers to share their personal creations with social media friends. Thousands of impressions generated close to a million dollars in revenue and media for the company for a fraction of what the company typically would spend on a campaign.

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I spent this past summer at one of the industry’s most well known advertising agencies and I fell for it. I paid to give Magnum access to my 400 followers. Honestly, I had an incredible time doing it.

Bravo Magnum. Bravo.

If you’re looking for a great ice cream spot or to take part in the experience, visit the New York City Magnum Pleasure Store at 134 Prince St, New York, NY 10012.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

 

When’s The Last Time You Saw The Government Swear?

When’s The Last Time You Saw The Government Swear?

When charged with ensuring millennials listen to the PSA’s plastered on the ceilings of subway cars, what is the easiest way to catch their attention? Swear.

“Outrageous”, “Disgusting”, “Immoral”. These are all words used by a Facebook user to describe a hoax subway overhead ad supposedly by the MTA. My description of the pretend campaign? Pure Genius.

With outrage and controversy growing over the latest photoshop stunt featured below, it is important to step back from the vernacular used and understand the context and meaning of the message.

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“Don’t Be A Fuck Boy”

The term fuck boy, recently coined by millennials, is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “the type of guy who does shit that generally pisses the population of the earth off all the time”. In short, this is a person with loose moral character and having little regard for the respect and space of others.

Think back to your last subway ride. Did you encounter someone who was a “pole hog” or “man-spreading”? Chances are you did. The younger generation in New York City is known for disrespecting the space of others on subway cars and furthermore, known for not giving up a seat for the elderly or those who require it. With changing personalities comes a false sense of entitlement. Listen to any Gen X’er and you will hear praise of the good ‘ole days when gentlemen would give up their seat for a lady. There is a reason you hear these remarks more frequently in 2016. Millennials hold a sense of entitlement, arguing that they shouldn’t have to give up a seat, or move out of someone’s way because they paid for that spot, or more commonly “they have a right to be there”.

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This fake ad, while vulgar, speaks to the target market of the campaign in terms they understand. By using the vernacular in the ad, the MTA (or mysterious photoshopper) is able to identify with the target market by referencing how their actions can be construed with the negative connotations that follow the moniker “fuck boy”. It is also comedic to note that the red figure in the picture has a white triangle below its neck. This is meant to visually show the shirt is a v-neck cut, a popular shirt style of millennials who will further successfully identify with the ad’s copy.

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V-Necks Are A Popular New Shirt Cut

When I think of a great ad campaign, it is one that speaks directly to the target while evoking an emotional response. This fake PSA’s message is loud and clear (to its target), “Millennials, respect the space of others”. While older generations may take offense to the language used in the copy, they should look at the benefits of using such a term to speak to those who need to heed the message the most in a way they will. After reading that ad, most millennials will become aware of their selfish actions, and yield extra space for others to hold onto the pole, or grab an open seat.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

Loyalty Program Devaluation Lessens Brand Loyalty

Loyalty Program Devaluation Lessens Brand Loyalty

As a marketer obsessed with brands, it is easy to understand why I fell in love with loyalty programs at such a young age. I remember the first time my mother introduced me to Starbucks, a worldwide purveyor of coffee and pioneer of the growing American coffee shop culture. My mother, a self proclaimed coffee junkie, refuses to “Get her fix” from anywhere besides the green mermaid. In early 2008, her coffee addiction awarded her a Starbucks Gold Card, a significant milestone given to the most loyal of customers. Back in 2008, I wasn’t aware of this significance for loyal customers who spent well over Starbucks’ expected customer life amount in a matter of months. When paying with her brand new gold card, I was amazed that a huge company, with thousands of locations, would recognize my mother for being such a loyal customer.loyalty_infographic1As of late, it seems that the Starbucks Gold Tier rewards program has lost its way. Pre-April 12th 2016, earning “Gold” status required 30 visits within one calendar year, regardless of dollar amount spent. The new Starbucks rewards program modeled the one utilized by Dunkin Donuts. Rather than include their own loyalty model with the new offering, Starbucks wiped away the frequency rewards in favor of the dollar-spent model. Essentially, anyone who spends $62.50 or more will instantly be awarded the perks of Gold status regardless of how long you’ve been a loyal customer.screen-shot-2016-03-07-at-8-20-46-pm

Under the old rewards program, anyone who made 30 purchases in a calendar year was awarded gold status. This devaluation caused a large uproar from current gold members who threatened to frequent Dunkin Donuts in favor of a brand that maintains their rewards status quo. With some critics of the program saying Starbuck’s previous rewards program was overvalued since the start, this devaluation, essentially returning it to an industry standard valuation, wasn’t much of a change. While the program now rewards customers for dollars spent, there is a lingering feeling of distrust between the ex elite and the coffee giant.images-1.pngTaking advantage of the strife felt by Starbucks gold members, Dunkin Donuts fired right back. Dunkin sought to capitalize on its own successful loyalty program to capture disgruntled customer’s business through clever social media campaigns. It worked.images.pngThe rise of loyalty programs has become both a blessing and a curse. Often, those customers in the higher echelons of loyalty programs feel a larger sense of entitlement. This feeling of entitlement, speaking in terms of bringing a rewards program valuation back to industry standards from an inflated high, offended long time clients who enjoyed their exclusive-elite status. In a time when one person’s dollar is worth the same as the next, it is up to large brands to create loyalty programs for their frequent visitors and generate demand for their products. With customer acquisition costs skyrocketing, companies such as Starbucks can’t afford to lose market share simply because the company overvalued its rewards program and only now decided to make such a drastic devaluation. A devaluation intended to increase brand engagement and reach can backfire on those who supported the initial rewards program, propelling them to choose to frequent competitors who have listened to the call of the consumer. The importance of creating and retaining a higher-level loyalty program for members that will be sustainable throughout the growth of the business is becoming more and more important in today’s customer centric world.images.jpeg

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

 

Elevator Pitches Are Dead. Here’s why:

Elevator Pitches Are Dead. Here’s why:

The last time I stepped onto an elevator in a corporate office, I wasn’t asked to explain my life, my accomplishments or my aspirations in under sixty seconds by an executive as we rode up to our respective floors. Instead, we both stepped into the car and immediately withdrew our phones from our pockets, beginning the ritual of self- isolation by checking email, social media notifications, and Yelping for the hottest dinner spot that night. Striking up a conversation with the person standing next to you has become a thing of the past. We now choose to avoid communication with others in favor of falling into the fallacy of a digital comfort zone that exists inside of our cell phones.

elevator-pitch

It is time for millennials to modernize their skill set. Prospective hires must adapt to changing market trends and capitalize on the digital real estate that encompasses every possible touch point that a hiring team will have with your online personal brand. You are more likely to have to describe yourself in under 156 characters rather than a 60 second pitch.

Today, striking up a conversation with those around you seems like it belongs in the graveyard of social interaction. So how can millennial job seekers convey their personal brand in this current state? Chances are, before you step into that elevator delivering you to your first job interview, an HR staffer has already conducted a basic Google search to ensure that the accolades on your resume are valid and that you do not exhibit poor personal brand management on social media platforms. When Google searches are conducted, their search algorithms pull up websites whose content matches the keywords used by the searcher. Google, like every other search engine, primarily relies on the webpage’s Meta description to match the relevant content with the original keywords used by the searcher. The meta-description is comprised of 156 characters that are embedded strategically in the websites HTML code, invisible on the website page yet highly important when ranking in a search engine query. Websites without purposely placed Meta descriptions extract the first 156 characters of text on the webpage.

meta-description
An example of a properly formatted meta description.

Gone are the days of a 60 second elevator pitch. We now live in a world of character limitations and web presence that have become the deciding factor in whether future leaders are hired by today’s companies.

The charge to millennial job seekers is this: challenge yourself further to be able to describe your life in the form of a tweet, not just in a Meta description format. This 140-character limitation forces you to think creatively. If asked by an employer to describe yourself, providing concise creative tweets about yourself as an example demonstrates your knowledge of current social media trends. If seeking employment in a marketing or brand management role, you will be able to demonstrate best practices in SEO/SEM and social media strategy right on the top of your resume or personal website. This is another way to differentiate yourself from the competition.

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Prominently display your Me in a Tweet on your profile.

Differentiate yourself from everyone else. Don’t be afraid to be different when developing and showcasing your own personal brand. Check back weekly for more brand management tips and insights here.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.