social butterflies.

In this day and age, we’re all somewhat of a social butterfly, thanks to the two social media giants that we all love so much: Facebook and Twitter. These two platforms truly are giants, and as the two most popular social platforms in the marketplace, they offer users valuable, but vastly different social experiences.

Facebook is the social site where users go to connect with friends and family members, connect with acquaintances, RSVP for events, support causes, “like” pages, post pictures and videos, share content, find hilarious memes, and keep up with the world in nearly every way imaginable. It’s also a place for businesses and organizations to disseminate information, build cause-campaigns, engage with consumers and fans, listen to trends, augment brand awareness, enhance brand perception, and Facebook has integrated every aspect of life, and has created a digital version of our communities – local, national, and global. The following infographic characterizes this idea:

Facebook Stats1

This infographic comes from an article entitled 13 Mind-blowing Facebook Statistics.

Follow the link to learn the other 12!

With obvious reason, the size of Facebook alone makes it an incredibly valuable tool for marketers. Consumers are constantly accessible, and conversations are no longer one sided. Where brands used to communicate to the silent masses, the masses are now given a voice to communicate back. Facebook exemplifies 699 million voices, all of which are engaging with each other and with the brands they support on a daily basis. And the site continues to grow as well. In just the last year, Facebook has grown in the following ways:

Facebook Stats2

Facebook is all about engagement. Connect with others; share content; post content. However it’s used, it’s all in the name of connectivity. So, how do you use Facebook? What can brands do better to make you, the consumer, feel more valuable and more engaged with them on this social platform?

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Now we turn to Twitter, which is equally embraced by our digital marketplace. Just as Facebook is about connectivity, Twitter is about information gathering and dissemination, and engaging with other information creators. The concept of the hashtag and the retweet speak directly to this idea, making information gathering even more simple through specific searches and tagging, and information sharing happen in the time it takes to retweet. With over 465 million Twitter accounts, and 175 million tweets per day, the potential that brands have to share and connect with consumers is enormous. What kind of content makes consumers willing to engage, favorite, or retweet? Check out the following infographic.

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Just like Facebook, Twitter is also a social site that bridges national boundaries and connects people across the globe. Actually, Twitter has even more relevance in our global culture, from my perspective. Take a look at the following Twitter statistics that really highlight this global nature:

Twitter Stats2

In 2011, co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, talks about the intent of this social platform. He got to a point when he realized “‘this was not just something in the Bay Area for technical geeks to fool around with and to find out what [they’re all] up to, but a global communications system that could be used for almost everything and anything,’ Stone says.”

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He continues to say

“People all around the world are realizing that we’re not just necessarily citizens of a particular state or a particular country, but citizens of the world. And this is a growing feeling, and I think that the Internet and social media tools are making the world a smaller place and allowing us to feel this empathy.”

This very truth is what makes our digital marketplace so exciting, and so valuable from a marketing perspective. Regardless of which platform you prefer, we are growing into a global world where we can connect and share. These social giants have transformed and continue to transform how we communicate; each makes our world seem bigger, making everyone accessible to everyone else. They also make our world seem a little smaller, too, instilling a digital sense of community and connection.

5 rules to reach your shoppers.

We’ve held thorough discussions in the last weeks of the various vendors and platforms that make up the digital marketplace. Now, though, it’s time to discuss those who experience it first hand, and who make it what it is. What would a market be without the people – the shoppers and the sellers who fully embody the success and growth of our marketplaces?

After discussing the topic with several people in my life, some from the Gen X population and some Gen Y, or Millennials, I’ve confirmed that the digital marketplace is experienced in different ways. Before diving into this, however, let’s look at the statistics of web users from 2010 to 2013  in the United States.

Clearly, the saturation of internet users in the United States has increased notably over the last three years. What does this mean? It means that the digital marketplace is growing, being utilized by a greater number of people who represent a wider range of demographics and psychographics. The uses vary just as much as the users themselves. A Pew Internet research study indicated that “Generation X is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online,” while Gen Y-ers are more likely to use digital media for fun, social engagement. This seems accurate, considering the conversations I have had recently.

While the Gen Y-ers in my life are perusing the marketplace with cautious intrigue, slowly but surely navigating social media sites, book marking sites, digital banking and billing, they are not fooled by seemingly impersonal nature of interactions. Our digital space is a platform through which we are connected 24/7 to the people and brands we love. Yet, this platform is not always conducive to personal, authentic experiences from their perspective.

Millennials, however, have expressed great appreciation for the digital marketplace. Having grown up without AND with new and emerging media, millennials have integrated nearly every aspect of life with the digital marketplace. Not a day goes by, for most millennials, where a blog, video, photo, hashtag, mobile app, advergame, or digital advertisement is accessed, used, posted, read, or shared. This is how millennials live and engage. Authenticity, for this demographic, is less important than accessibility.

Because of the diversity represented in our digital world, much more of which remains to be explained and researched, marketers must make great effort to understand how and where to reach their audiences. Here is a list of 5 simple rules to consider when establishing objectives for connectivity, engagement, and interaction across the board.

1) LISTEN – Establishing a qualitative and quantitative listening plan across social channels, blogs, and other digital platforms will, of course, inform marketers about the conversations and perceptions had regarding their brands and products. It will also provide results that will garner a numerical representation of what audience percentages are active on which channels. This allows brands to know who is present where, and therefore, can help them tailor messaging to suit the different kinds of engagement that different segments prefer.

2) REACH them where they want to be reached – This sounds SO simple. And it is! Once you’ve listened, follow through and serve your audiences where they prefer! This will let consumers feel more engaged with your brand, and will increase your accessibility.

3) Challenge ENGAGEMENT  Once you know where the different segments of your market are active, engage with them! How do we do this? Take a look at number 4!

4) Provide QUALITY CONTENT – The quality of the content you provide truly matters. Consumers can tell when a brand is being real. “Real success has always been about knowing ourselves and staying true to that core,” according to an article written by Forbes Contributor Meghan Biro. This kind of authenticity is captivating and magnetic. Brands who are not afraid to be real – in the good and the bad – will ultimately witness greater brand engagement and loyalty.

5) Keep it SIMPLE – Again, this is pretty simple advice. However, when you’re listening to your segments, reaching them through the digital avenues with which they are comfortable, providing authentic content, and challenging them to engage, there isn’t much left to be desired. Consumers want to feel valued by a brand. They want to engage and interact. Marketing campaigns, promotions, or engagement offerings shouldn’t be too complicated to accomplish this. Let your authenticity and desire for true connection lead your digital activity, and you’ll see benefit.

The following statement was made by Kathy Colvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, with regard to the at the 2013 Social Good Summit (happening now!). It speaks to the idea of community, and is a lesson brands can apply when considering their engagement with various “shoppers” in the digital marketplace.