Social, mobile lead engagement for generation Y: Shop.org keynote

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In today's Shop.org Annual Summit keynote, Grown Up Digital: How the Next Generation is Changing Retail and Marketing, Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics, discussed the role that new technologies and social behaviors are having on how teens consume culture.

The coming generation is not looking for information only on TV or a basic PC, and retailers looking to reach this teen and young adult audience need to think about how to engage them through a variety of channels.

“Today's kids want choice,” he said. “They want to customize products and services and they want to collaborate.”

The qualities tied in with a desire for entertainment, speed and innovation, as well as strong “BS detectors” make this generation demanding yet inspired at the same time.

Because this generation represents more than 80 million consumers in the US and 750 million in India, Tapscott urged marketers to be more engaging towards this generation. He explained that, rather than just individuals, today's youth are influencers — part of what he termed “N-Fluence networks” that are made up of different levels of relationships from 15 best friends to 400 Facebook friends to the whole world.

“Marketers that want to reach the whole world should target the 15 best friends,” Tapscott said.

Marketers, he said, must always keep in mind that today's youth make up parts of many groups. According to the presentation, 27% are very likely to listen to a friend's recommendation about something and 52% are somewhat likely — an endorsement of word-of-mouth marketing.

The keynote also focused on the fact that the consumption of culture has changed how the youth today thinks. It is now self-organized and, with the tools available, this organization can spread rapidly. This new approach has made even Web sites seem archaic — Tapscott has banned the term in his company.

“That is such a dot-com idea, a Web site. Today, we create communities,” he said.

Being mobile and on social networks means today's teens consume more information at the same time, making content that allows for multitasking more attractive. Content that is presented in this way, be it through social media, the mobile phone or RSS feeds has more power to reach this audience than more traditional channels such as a print newspaper or e-mail.

“Teenagers are more engaged than ever, through all kinds of new technological advances,” added Tapscott. “People trying to reach them need to move away from broadcast media and look to interactive learning.”

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