Snapchat went public the day I wrote this column, opening at $17 a share, handing insiders a windfall as its IPO closed at more than $24, making its founder a billionaire and valuing the company greater than American or United Airlines, Hershey or Hilton. If you don’t currently use this social media platform or — heaven forbid — don’t even know what it is, then I suggest you read on and see what marketing tools you may be missing.
First, let’s stipulate that one of the great things about being a marketer in recreational boating is that there’s a “boat” or piece of gear for just about every age group and income level. When it comes to reaching them via social media, there are many options.
In recent months much has been written about how marketers must first take into account the varying likes, dislikes and attributes among the three major generations that dominate the consumer marketplace (Boomers (1946-1964), GenXers (1965-1984) and Millennials (1985-2005). A very useful overview of these generations, plus dozens of short video tutorials on all aspects of marketing, can be seen at: www.marketingteacher.com/the-six-living-generations-in-america.
I first began writing about this generational divide in my May 2013 column “Boating Growth Requires Multi-Generational Effort.”
I expanded on this analysis in my May 2014 column, “Undervalued Gen X is Boating’s Sweet Spot”
Someone must think I’m on the right track, as this column was awarded first place in the Business of Boating category of the Boating Writers International 2014 annual writing contest.
That said, although marketers have been opining about how to reach the three major generations for some time now, I am becoming increasingly convinced that successful marketers are going to have to drill down a bit deeper and segment potential consumers into something more precise than 15-20-year demographic silos as consumers become more and more wedded to the digital world.
Many veteran marine marketers today can recall when President Kennedy was shot; when man landed on the moon; President Nixon waving farewell from the White House lawn; President Reagan getting shot; the fall of the Berlin Wall; the Lewinsky affair; Y2K; and 9/11, as well as the stock market crash and the Great Recession.
But today’s up-and-coming marketers and consumers view the world through very different goggles. For example, although I can distinctly remember when I first saw Apple’s “1984” television commercial introducing the Macintosh computer, many GenXers and millennials look to 2006, when Facebook opened its app to everyone age 13 and over with a valid email address as a major historical turning point.
Digital events began to unfold rapidly afterward. I remember when my dear friend the late Chuck Husick leaned over to me during a breakfast meeting at the Fort Lauderdale boat show in 2007 and proudly showed me his newfangled “iPhone”; when my 14-year-old daughter told me in 2011 that her friends were moving to Instagram in addition to Facebook; when Thom Dammrich began preaching the gospel according to Twitter at the Miami boat show back around 2012; or when Gaspare Marturano proclaimed that “mobile” was the wave of the future soon thereafter.
If one thing is certain in the digital world it is that change is constant and that today’s major social networking platforms are becoming virtual worlds unto themselves. Savvy marketers are going to have to use a rifle rather than a shotgun and tailor their messages in order to obtain the keys to the virtual kingdoms of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter and now Snapchat. For links to the top 15 networking sites, go to www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites.
With this overview of the major networking sites in mind you can zero in on the demographics that are closest to your audience. “The Top Social Media Sites That Matter to Marketers,” a very useful article by the social media dashboard Hootsuite.com (https://blog.hootsuite.com/top-social-media-sites-matter-to-marketers), compares the major social media sites according to a number of important variables, including age, gender, income, Internet usage, education, etc. It also identifies some companies that have successfully used these platforms.
A review of this article reveals a number of very interesting and useful facts. For example:
- As the Internet’s second-largest search engine, YouTube’s 1 billion users amount to about one-third of all people on the Internet, and it reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the United States.
- Although Facebook has more than 1 billion daily users, most marketers would be astonished to learn that 83.6 percent of Facebook’s daily active users are outside the United States and Canada. This is particularly important if your company primarily serves a domestic market. That said, Facebook appears to reach the most affluent audience, with 72 percent of its users having incomes over $75,000.
- In the aforementioned article, Hootsuite author Dana Fontein wrote in March 2016, before anyone thought that Donald Trump would win the presidency, “Twitter offers a peek into the minds of industry leaders, allowing you to see what they are reading, sharing and thinking about any topic at any given time.” Talk about having a crystal ball!
- Pinterest users are 10 percent more likely to make a purchase on an e-commerce site than the users of other social networks.
- Instagram users are two and a half times more likely to click on ads than on other social media platforms. (For a particularly interesting marketing success story about Instagram, see “How Much is an Instagram Story Worth” in the March 6 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek).
- Lastly, if you really want to reach millennials, Snapchat is your platform, with a penetration rate exceeding 70 percent.
Which brings me to a useful and timely report I just received from the news website Business Insider by Henry Blodgett, titled, “The Future of Digital: The Next Big Thing.” (http://www.businessinsider.com/the-top-5-predictions-for-the-future-of-digital-2016-12.
Presented in 20 slides, this report makes two major observations that marine marketers should take into account as they develop their marketing strategies and allocate their scarce resources.
The very first slide, titled, “Digital Media Consumption is Growing, Everything Else is Shrinking,” demonstrates beyond any doubt that during the past five years the media consumption share of TV is down from 40.9 percent to 35.2 percent, radio is down from 14 percent to 12 percent, and print is down from 6.6 percent to 2.9 percent. All are on a steady downward slope as digital, and especially mobile media, are on an upward curve.
The report’s second major observation is that “social video” is the next big thing, with Facebook daily video views growing by 200 percent between Q1 of 2015 and Q1 of 2016, Snapchat growing by 150 percent and YouTube growing by 33 percent during the same time periods.
Although statistics have been known to lie, I’d like to come full circle and put some stock in my daughter Sara, who is now 20 and majoring in digital communications, when she says I should buy shares in Snap Inc., aka Snapchat. Being the boomer that I am, I hesitated, and as this column goes to my editor the stock is trading at over $27 a share — a 60 percent premium from its IPO price. Snooze, you lose! I guess you just have to be a member of the right generation to appreciate where the next wave is heading.
Michael Sciulla is president of Credibility & Company Comunications, as well as vice president of the Marine Marketers of America and a member of the board of directors of Boating Writers International. During a 28-year career at BoatUS he built the association’s brand, as membership grew from 30,000 to 650,000. He has testified more than 30 times before congressional committees.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue.