Gen-Y gives social media ‘whatevs’

Psychographics and demographics matter for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that they help human beings further categorize other human beings into recognizable patterns. If this group likes chocolate and that group prefers caramel and you’re a candy seller, you can either satisfy both groups by carrying a little of both, or you can specialize in one over the other. In this manner you can manage your target audience’s needs in a way that suits your special skills, goods and services.

But what do you do if your audience doesn’t follow their own psycho/demographics when it comes to social media?

I have a client who specializes in candy for active women who range in age from nine to it’s-not-polite-to-ask, with special focus on the Millennial/Gen Y group (client’s specialty changed to protect the innocent). When I first began working with her, she warned me that her customer was not active in social media. Knowing that Gen Y is supposed to be the most social media savvy and connected audience, I thought she was being naive. In general, if Gen Y sees something they don’t like, they go online to begin to affect change for the better. Further, because her audience is also female, if they have a product complaint, they think nothing of sharing that with everyone within their circle of influence—often being recompensed for their trouble by the brands themselves.

That’s the general consensus of how they’re supposed to act; that is not how my client’s audience behaves.

Over the past year of working with her, I have learned that her audience is indeed extremely involved in social media, tweeting constantly, seemingly not caring where it lands, or even if it does. I have also learned that they are extraordinarily wary of being approached by brands, to the point of mocking me when I do so on her behalf.

For instance, I overheard a twitversation wherein two girls discussed the poor performance of a product one had purchased from my client. When the buyer (let’s call her Sam) balked at having to get her mother to drive her to the store to return the product, I engaged her in a twitversation, resulting in a rather unorthodox solution (you’ll have to trust me on this one). All went silent for a few days, but as I was curious to see if Sam’s problem was gone, I went back to her stream. Imagine my shock when I discovered that Sam and the same friend were discussing how they’d been ‘stalked’ by my client’s brand, and that they were going to block it.

Fearing for my client’s brand reputation, I contacted her and shared what I’d discovered. She stoically pointed out that she’d forewarned me that her audience was quirky. A few days later she contacted me to let me know that she’d arranged with a different manufacturer to have a competing product sent to Sam for free. I sent Sam a direct message letting her know the news and waited for her to reply with her shipping address. Curious, again I checked her stream to find that she was indeed tweeting up a storm, she just wasn’t responding to me. Eventually she did, and I shared the address with my client, who told me that the manufacturer was actually going to send two of the product, one in a color of Sam’s choice and one for her friends to try out. I, in turn, sent this info back to Sam.

And received no reply.

Two weeks later, when I checked back in with Sam to find out if she’d received the product, she tells me she’d not. Trying to prevent another badmouthing session, I advised my client. Within seconds, the new manufacturer’s social media rep contacts me and says that she contacted Sam two weeks prior (the same day I gave my client all of Sam’s information!) but that Sam had never responded. As it is It is the manufacturer’s policy not to send anything until they’ve made ‘contact’ with someone, the social media rep’s hands were tied.

Because Sam refuses to respond to the manufacturer, she is not going to receive two FREE products. So much for Gen Y being social media savvy!

If you have any similar anecdotes you’d like to share, or have any information on what might be happening with this group of young women, my client and I are eager to hear it!

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