Why 'Digital-ness' and Demos Don't Mix
By Robert Passikoff and Amy Shea, Brand Keys Inc. -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/11/2012 2:34:38 PM
The last such salvo came from the least-likely segment to win the word-association game when it comes to digital: the AARP crowd. Yes, those in the 50+ demo group happen to find digital increasingly attractive.
Looking through this 'other end of the spectrum' view can help frame the crumbling foundation of a demographic-based notion of digital engagement. After all, if those who lived through having to write class notes longhand in notebooks without a battery are using apps, then we can be sure that age is on its way out as any measure of digital reality.
As a source of comparison, it's helpful to look at social media engagement as measured in a July 2012 AARP study.
The study showed that 69% of the 18-49 crowd does uses social media versus 39% of the 50-plusers. But that 39% demonstrates a slow and steady climb in an area that is often dismissed or missed altogether by marketers as they obsessively focus on millennials -- namely, engagement. Consider that in these groups, one-quarter of each post on social media 'at least on a daily basis.' That means on quarter of both groups engage with social media once or more per day.
In order to maximize one's brand through digital, it pays to file away those demographic charts. To truly understand digital from the brand perspective, it's vital to measure where digital engagement and brand engagement intersect -- how engagement with digital platforms links to how users engage with categories and the brands in them.
As we look at the patterns among consumers with high-digital usage -- the "Higitals," or those that span demographic segments of all kinds -- we see higher expectations when it comes to things like brand transparency and follow-through. No one knows better than Higitals how to pull back the curtain on the Wizard. Repeatedly, we see that increased use of digital communication platforms makes it abundantly clear to Higitals where the power lies in separating image from reality.
Social media only matters when it offers a category-relevant aspect for consumers, both Higital and not. This makes understanding digital a very specific undertaking, which is why usage numbers alone only take you so far.
Our belief is that this trend is only going to continue. Engagement is not a buzzword; it's reality. And while engagement with any platform, message, experience or program is critical, it's only an entry to that spot where the pot o' gold that is brand engagement lies. All maps are useless unless they lead to that sometimes-too-buried treasure.
Or, to quote Captain Jack Sparrow, "you savvy?"
Passikoff is founder & president of Brand Keys, Inc. a global brand and engagement consultancy. He can be reached at email@example.com. Shea is executive VP and director of global brand development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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