As you probably know by now, a couple weeks ago Snapchat unveiled its version of the previously doomed Google Glass: Snap Spectacles.
At $130 a pop, they’re much more affordable than Glass was, but equally as tough to get your hands on–only available in pop-up vending machines that Snap alerts you to on Snapchat (brilliant marketing move).
Obviously, it remains to be seen how the public and Snapchat users will react to this new product, but early returns seem fairly positive (The Verge was raving last week). The glasses are more visually attractive than the Minority-Report-esque Glass, and have a built-in user base in 100 million+ Snapchat daily users.
So, it should come as no surprise that a handful of early adopter brands have already started experimenting with Spectacles–including Minnesota’s own space150 and the Minnesota Wild.
Sports franchises seems like a logical fit for Spectacles. From a social/digital perspective, one of a sports team’s goals is typically to bring fans closer to the team and improve the “fan experience.” With Spectacles’ “first person” view, they seems ideally suited to do just that.
And the Wild showed us a glimpse of what that will look like in the months ahead.
Behind-the-scenes footage. Glimpses into rare viewpoints during the game (Nordy shooting the t-shirt cannon). Again–Spectacles is IDEALLY suited for sports teams, so this was kind of a slam dunk before it even began. And my guess is you’ll see other sports franchises experimenting with Spectacles as they become a little easier to obtain.
Another early adopter? Sour Patch Kids, which typically is on the more early side of experimenting with new social and digital technologies.
Sour Patch Kids’ first attempt with Spectacles wasn’t quite as interesting as the Wild’s, as they used the glasses to show fans how to make what I can only guess are called “Sour Patch Cookies” (um, gross).
Now, admittedly, this was Sour Patch Kids first attempt with the new glasses. And I think you’ll see them get a lot smarter in how they use the new tool. This first stab was most likely a complete experiment–not sure cooking with Spectalces is “can’t miss” video on Snapchat. But, I think that’s also an important lesson for brands as they start to think about how they use these new glasses–only use when a first-person viewpoint would create a unique experience. For the Wild, that was definitely the case. For Sour Patch Kids, baking cookies in first-person isn’t exactly what the experts would call “engaging content.”
Finally, the other mainstream brand I’ve noticed playing with Spectacles so far has been General Electric. Probably no surprise, given GE’s propensity to experiment with and push the envelope with new digital technologies in the past.
GE’s first stab? A look inside their Fort Worth facility and locomotives.
— General Electric (@generalelectric) November 14, 2016
Again, much like the Wild, GE is giving fans an “insider’s look” at its technology and facility–something they really can’t get anywhere else, and from a unique perspective.
Obviously, we are VERY early in terms of brand adoption of Spectacles. Heck, half the battle right now is actually getting your hands on these things.
But, once brands do obtain a pair of Spectacles, I think you’ll see a lot more experimentation. Most of it is definitely going to be lousy (and probably unwatchable), but after that big first wave wears off, I do think there’s something here for brands.
Because Spectacles are tapping into two big trends: 1) Social video, and 2) FIRST-PERSON social video.
And, keep in mind, Snapchat is still a growing platform. Definitely not at the scale of Facebook (or even Instagram) yet. But, with a built-in user base, huge interest (thanks to a brilliant product roll-out strategy) and a reasonable price point, I tend to think Spectacles may actually catch on and be a viable tool for brands to reach certain segments of their audience (trending younger, obviously).
For many companies, targeting and talking about Millennials has become a full-blown obsession. I mean, how many articles have you read this year with “Millennial” in the title? 20? 30? 1,000?
And sure, Millennials represent a sizable audience for almost any company to consider. And for good reason–they’re starting to accumulate wealth, and they’ll be moving into their prime earning years soon.
But, you know who’s next? Gen Z. Kids ages 5-19 now. These are the NEXT Millennials.
And, they have the size to back it up.
Would it surprise you to know that Gen Z represents a full 25% of the overall U.S. population? Crazy, huh?
But, we don’t hear much about Gen Z because, well, frankly, they’re still kids. And, there are ethical boundaries many companies would prefer not to cross.
However, this is the next big generational group we’ll be marketing to and communicating with in 5-10 years. Because, by that point, many of them will be 21-29 years old. Right in that spot Millennials occupy now.
What do we know about these kids? Not much. Again, they’re so young we don’t really need to know much about them.
But, we should start paying attention. Because these kids communicate and consume media much differently than the generations before them.
And, that’s going to significantly change the way we communicate with them in the years ahead.
What am I talking about?
Gen Z watches a LOT of video–most of it on YouTube
According to recent research, 93 percent of Gen Z’ers visit YouTube at least once a week. And, a whopping 54 percent visit multiple times per day. As a parent to two Gen Z’ers, I will attest to that fact. For my kids, YouTube IS the internet. It’s their go-to platform and they’re on it ALL the time. For Gen Z, video IS YouTube. So, that’s a big shift. For previous generations (even Millennials), video has meant a combo of network TV/cable + YouTube + streaming. And probably in that order. For Gen Z, it’s more like YouTube (by a mile) + streaming + cable (and no network TV).
What does this mean for communicators?
From a comms perspective, that has a few implications: 1) Traditional TV news shouldn’t be the first priority with this audience–kinda goes without saying, but I feel the need to hammer it here; 2) Gen Z will most likely get their news predominantly from social networks; and 3) Gen Z may not be seeking out news the way other generations have–simple as that.
Gen Z is not reading newspapers or magazines or listening to the radio
See how far down “reading” and “radio” are down on this list?
Especially when you look at teens as they prepare to enter the “real world”. Radio and print are miles behind smartphones, computers and tablets as the tools they’re using to get information. These kids are using smartphones, computers and tablets to get their information, instead of newspapers, radios and TVs. Again, seems obvious, but worth hammering home.
What does this mean for communicators?
Again, traditional media will not be the best way to reach this audience. Why do I keep saying this? Because, for many PR folks, traditional media still rules. And, for now, with many audiences, that is an effective approach. But, with Gen Z, that will be tipped on its head. Reaching these kids/people will mean: 1) Reaching them with video vs. text, 2) Reaching them on mobile devices (see below), and 3) Reaching them on their timetables–not ours.
Gen Z will be the first mobile-first generation
Look at the graphic above again. And note the total media time for teens (8 hours, 56 minutes). Now note the total mobile media number: 4 hours, 12 minutes. Almost half of their entire media consumption is on a mobile device. These kids grew up with tablets and smartphones. Again, my two kids are living proof. Both get most of their entertainment and info on either their tablets or smartphones (well, MY smartphone, anyway :). I know all generations now use smartphones ubiquitously, but Gen Z will be the first generation who actually grew up with the smartphone as their PRIMARY device.
What does this mean for communicators?
This shift will make a big difference in how we communicate with Gen Z. Mobile-friendly sites will no longer be optional–they’ll be table stakes (I would argue this is the case now). Your mobile experience won’t just need to be “optimized”, it’ll need to be air-freaking-tight. These kids will be so attuned to the mobile experience, they won’t have time for brands who are fumbling the snap. Mobile won’t be a “consideration”–it’ll just be assumed.
The four-day workweek.
For many, it’s a pipe dream. But, for an increasing number of people, it’s quickly becoming a reality.
In fact, just a few weeks ago a friend and former client negotiated her four-day workweek. And, from what I’ve heard so far, it’s worked out incredibly well for her.
And I think it’s a trend that’s going to grow even more in the months and years ahead.
A few reasons:
- People are completely burnt out (especially in our industry)
- Priorities are shifting (young parents looking to spend more time with their kids, for example)
- Not everyone wants that VP job (is the money worth it? A lot of people are saying no)
But, here’s the big question for us: Does the four-day workweek work in PR and digital marketing?
Because there are challenges.
1: Companies, largely, aren’t ready to embrace the four day workweek
Yes, I know there are some companies (mostly smaller) than are embracing the changing nature of work–but let me tell you, most big companies aren’t in that group. Most big companies still believe in the “butts in seats” philosophy. 40+ hours a week. At the office. That’s the reality. Now, agencies are probably a little more lenient here than companies would be, but those companies represent a lot of PR and digital marketing jobs right now.
2: The “always on” nature of our business doesn’t lend itself well to taking Fridays off
Look at it from management’s perspective: You hire a PR or social media manager. After a year, she asks for a four-day workweek. You want to work with her because she’s a star employee. But, giving her a four-day workweek means having to backfill on Fridays with other staff. Which, in some cases, might mean training those other employees to cover for the PR or social media manager. Not saying this is impossible–just saying it’s a barrier.
3: Take a day off, get passed over for promotions and other opportunities
“Out of sight, out of mind.” That’s the phrase, right? Couldn’t be more true in this type of situation. You’re out of the office one day a week–might not seem like a lot, but that one day can be the difference between you getting that promotion, and you getting laid off. See point #1 above–companies, largely, still value the “butt in seat” mentality. Makes a big difference when there’s no butt in that seat for a full day each week.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an interesting trend going on in the employee communications world.
More brands are shifting to a mobile-first, newsfeed-like approach.
Take Nissan, for example. It’s VP of Communications in Europe, Stuart Jackson, recently shared results from his team’s move away from the corporate intranet to an employee app: Nissan Insider Mobile. The early results? Not too shabby. 10% of employees have downloaded the app and used it in the first four weeks. And, a third of the audience visits the app over the weekend!
Or, take Target. It’s new “Skimm-like” daily email is essentially a mobile-first, newsfeed-like experience. In employee’s email inboxes by 6:30 a.m., this scannable email is (most likely–I’m guessing here) designed to be a mobile-first experience given the wide swath of Target employees across the country.
Those are just two examples of stories I’ve heard about lately. The trick with employee comms is it’s all behind the firewall, so “case studies” are hard to come by (unless you know someone). So, if it’s bubbling up in media circles, chances are it’s a bigger trend than we might think.
Yet, many companies still lag behind.
Many companies are still operating on 1998 internet principles. That is–over-relying on web sites and desktop views to drive employee awareness and understanding of key company priorities and issues.
However, it is the year 2016, and mobile devices are increasingly the way people (and, of course, employees) are getting their information.
Yet employee comms teams haven’t adapted.
Why not? A myriad of reasons: lack of budget, lack of vision, lack of leadership. It’s a pretty long list.
But make no mistake about it–this IS a trend. And, I see it advancing even further in the years ahead. Here’s why:
Employee communications experience should mirror personal communications experience
This is what drove Target with its “Briefly” daily email. They loved the Skimm–MANY people love the Skimm. So, why not replicate their model for employee comms purposes? The Skimm is just one example of the way people consume news differently now–predominantly in short bursts and increasingly on mobile devices. How many employees at your company have mobile devices? 80 percent? 90 percent? 100 percent? How many are checking those phones multiple times throughout the day? Why wouldn’t you try to reach those employees on a tool/device they’re using ALL THE TIME?
Reach employees without computer access
This is what drove Nissan to develop its mobile employee app. It was trying to better reach the thousands of employees on the production floor. Those employees without desktop access. Think of all the companies and industries this impacts–health care, manufacturing, retail. Again, it’s a pretty long list.
Don’t make employees hunt for news–make it easy
One of the major challenges with corporate intranets is that they are the definitive dumping ground for information. Which means employees have to search hard for relevant and timely news (usually–outside the home page, for example). A mobile-first newsfeed approach removes that challenge. You’re getting the most relevant and timely information in front of employees with minimal work on their part. All they need to do is check their device the thumb down.
Reach employees on weeknights and weekends
If you work on the corporate side, how much time do you have during the day to check traditional employee comms channels? If you’re like many, not much. Chances are you’re in meetings. Doing work. Managing people. All of which takes you away from your computer to read employee comms messages. Or, in industries like health care, manufacturing and retail, employees don’t have desktop access during their jobs–you actually NEED to reach them when they’re not working. A mobile newsfeed (specifically, an app) gets at this need. Just look at the early results from the Nissan folks above.
I was going to write a post ripping the current state of influencer marketing, but I wrote this instead
You know one easy way you can tell if an internet, social media or tech trend has “jumped the shark?”
It shows up on 60 Minutes.
I’m half-kidding. Just watch this 60 Minutes segment on “social media influencers” and try not to laugh. No really–if you can make it all 12 minutes and not laugh I’ll give you $100.
60 Minutes jokes aside, influencer marketing has become big business. Too big, according to many.
I mean, just look at this graphic. Influencers with 7M+ fans are getting up to $300,000 per post on YouTube.
25-year-old influencers are saying things like “I could retire now”.
It’s Kim Kardashian’s world, y’all, and we’re just living in it.
When I started researching this post, I was planning to write about how I think influencer marketing may be reaching a critical tipping point from a brand perspective and how it’s about to jump the shark.
About how utterly ridiculous it has become.
About how proposterous it is that a Vine influencer would say “I could retire right now” to a 60 Minutes reporter.
But then something funny happened–I started to come around (at least from a brand perspective).
Not really “started”–because I’ve been an advocate for influencer marketing for years. In fact, I’ve used influencer marketing as a tactic with a number of clients here in Minneapolis.
But, the four myths I was hoping to debunk actually turned out to be true. Let’s take a closer look:
Myth #1: Social influencers can provide valuable and cost-effective reach for brands.
Let me throw a few numbers at you.
$112,000. That’s the cost of 30 seconds of commercial time in prime time in 2015.
$50,000. That’s the cost of a full-page, front page ad on the New York Times.
$2.5 million. That’s the cost of four weeks on Times Square’s biggest billboard.
$150,000. That’s the cost (above) for an Instagram influencer with 7M+ followers to make a sponsored post.
Now, most of those numbers above are fluid, but they give you some context. And the context is pretty simple–from an advertising/awareness POV, influencer marketing is in the ballpark cost-wise when stacked up against competing “ad products” (because really, that’s what influencer marketing is). Depending on the situation, you could probably say it is “cost effective.”
Myth #2: Social influencers have the trust of their audiences.
I was hoping to debunk this one based on my theory than many influencers have sold out. Their feeds are full of sponsored posts (many of which aren’t disclaimed, by the way). But, as I researched more, I thought about the Edelman Trust Barometer. The 2016 version found the following the most trustworthy:
- Technical experts – 67%
- Academic experts – 64%,
- People like me – 63% (up from 57% in 2015)
People like me was above: CEOs, employees, and government officials (go figure). Sure, the Edelman Trust Barometer isn’t the final word on trust, but those numbers say a lot. People do trust influencers (well, at least some of them).
Myth #3: Influencer marketing > traditional brand advertising
I was ready to take this one apart from this perspective: Brand advertising allows companies to control the message. To develop their own creative. Influencer marketing, on the other hand, is (largely) out of their control. Sure, brands have input when working with influencers. But, one of the primary reasons brands DO work with influencers is because they want to tap into their creative know-how. Into their tastemaking ability. That involves handing the creative reigns over to the influencer.
But, the more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to this old adage: Your brand isn’t what you say it is. Your brand is what your customers say it is.
Doesn’t that sum up influencer marketing pretty well? These influencers will help you define your brand. I think that’s still a scary place for many brands, but for the ones willing to jump in feet first, I think it tends to work pretty well because that’s exactly the kind of thing that attracts the younger set.
Myth #4: Social influencers are worth every penny.
One of the many quotes from the 60 Minutes piece that made me spit up my coffee was this: “I’m actually under-paid.” Yep, the influencer who’s making $150,000 per 6-second Vine actually said that on national TV. Please allow me to poke this pencil through my eyeball.
But, in the right spots, I (sadly) believe he’s right. Here’s why. Whether I want to believe it or not, these (mostly younger) influencers are the Millennial and Gen Z equivalent of my generation’s rock stars. And, if we’re going to compare them to rock stars, let’s compare them to rock stars. For example, Beyonce. Yeah, the Beyonce who signed a 10-year, $50 million deal with Pepsi in 2012. That’s a lot of zeroes. And, we don’t know all the specifics of the deal (just like we don’t know the specifics of these influencer deals). But, here’s the difference (besides all the zeroes): these influencers are creating original, creative content on behalf of brands. I (along with many others) might think it’s ridiculous content–but the fact remains it resonates with its key audience (and I’m not in that key audience). So, think about the $50M Pepsi spent on Beyonce. How much do you think they also spent on ad creative to go with that sponsorship? Don’t you get almost a 2-of-1 with social influencers? I think the math works in your favor.
So, despite my best intentions to destroy the influencer marketing industry, I’ve convinced myself that paying a YouTube star $300,000 for 5 hours of work may actually worth it for many brands.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start Googling “How to become an overnight YouTube Influencer sensation.”