Monday, August 31, 2009

CNN: An Example in Trying Too Hard to Reach Gen Y

I have seen a lot of good and a lot of bad when it comes to big name companies trying to connect with Gen Y and become more ‘relevant’ to them. Companies have made these changes in a variety of different ways, with the two prominent methods being: rebranding efforts and/or a social media presence.

CNN is a little bit different. They decided to make themselves more relevant to Gen Y by creating new segments. Not a bad idea - in theory. Content that is pertinent to Gen Y should attract Gen Y viewers...right?

The problem does not pertain to the content, but in the branding of the segment. They decided to name the segment after what they perceived to be trendy Gen Y slang. They then have their Gen X and Baby Boomer news anchors painfully using this slang in the segments. The whole thing just comes off unbelievably forced.

The segments are seemingly satirically named: Just Sayin’, Are you kidding me?, and What The...?

The result (besides losing entirely too much credibility in the process) is that CNN gets put on blast by perhaps the most influential and popular news anchor in the eyes of Gen Y, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.

Stewart has some excellent jabs at CNN’s “Slangtastic new strategy,” asserting that “they report the news like I talked...when I was a 12 year-old girl.” While some claim that all press is good press, I can only imagine that CNN lost even more credibility in the eyes of Gen Y after Stewart was done with them.

What should CNN have done differently? How about speak to and engage Gen Y intelligently! It should be natural; no need to force it. We may be younger as a generation than their news anchors, but that doesn’t mean we’re unintelligent. There are ways to cover news pieces that are relevant to Gen Y without demeaning us in the process. Just Sayin’ CNN...

--Now let me clear my throat--
Josh Groth

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

5 Reasons Why Gen Y is the Minority on Twitter

Before going any further, I think that it is imperative to clarify that teens are indeed on Twitter - they’re just a minority (a clarification I attribute to my friend Joey Mucha ( @mucheazy ).

Last week, Mashable published an article that seemed to get everyone’s underwear in a bunch - Stats Confirm it: Teens Don’t Tweet. They cited a recent Nielsen report that shows that only 16 percent of Twitter users are under 25. Later that same day, one of my favorite editors over at Mashable, Ben Parr ( @benparr ) came out with a very interesting piece titled Why Teens Don’t Tweet. This took a closer look at the numbers and tried to add reason to them. If you haven’t read his post, you should. It’s very well written. Below I’ve put some of my thoughts around Gen Y and twitter. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on the subject as well!

1. Perceived Value vs. Actual Value (the status update)

Twitter is a social network, therefore it must be like all social networks. Wrong. I’ve heard this a lot from my non-tweeting Gen Y peers. Just because Facebook and Twitter both have a place where you can update your status, it doesn’t mean that they are used in the same ways or even for the same reasons. I have seen a decent amount of my peers get on Twitter expecting it to be like Facebook, only to not really “get it” and close their accounts.

2. Snowball

Like any other hit new thing, at some point it’ll reach a tipping point and go viral. There will always be the first movers, but the masses begin their adoption when the they see the majority of the peers following suit. While other demographics have snowballed with Twitter use, the under 25 segment hasn’t. But who ever said that every demographic adopts things at the same pace? It could simply mean that there haven’t been enough movers in that segment to instigate the viral affect yet...

3. Push vs. Pull

Twitter is best utilized as a means for accessing news/articles in real time (pulling) and pushing content to others, not for finding what all of your friends are currently up to (especially if most of your friends aren’t on Twitter). If you’re following several hundred to several thousand people, trying to keep tabs on all of your friends updates will prove difficult as their tweets will get lost among the tweets of all the other news agencies, celebs, and randoms that you’re following as well - that is, unless you’re utilizing a client like TweetDeck.

4. The Friend Zone

If teens are mainly using social media to connect with their friends, then Twitter is not the most efficient means of doing so, Facebook is. If all of your close friends are already communicating in one area, why move them all over to another social media site unless it has some amazing value-add (might I remind that Facebook is launching real-time search functionality as well...)?

5. The LinkedIn Syndrome

My observation is that Twitter is a lot like LinkedIn: it is great for people trying to build a professional network, or substantiate themselves as subject matter experts on something. Which is why both struggle to attract teens. Why do teens need to build a professional network? Their network consists of their friends and little more. So what is the value-add for a teen to join?

What are your thoughts on the subject?

--Now Let Me Clear My Throat--

Josh Groth

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 Easy Steps for Gen Y to Go Green

I’m all for green. I love the color (I’m a UO Duck...what can I say) and I love the environment. What I don’t love, are how most of the suggestions I hear about being environmentally conscious from the media, aren’t relevant to me and a good portion of my fellow Gen Yers. What I mean, is that a lot of the focus of the media is solely around driving an eco-friendly car. For someone who is unemployed and has student loans to pay off, dropping some serious coin for a green ride is something that isn’t feasible at this time. Moreover, the tips on “going green” that I receive in the mail from my local utility company seem to relate solely to home owners. I, like most of the younger half of Gen Y, live in an apartment. I don’t need to buy new energy efficient appliances, re-caulk my windows, or re-insulate my walls.

While I don’t have the money for a new eco-friendly Prius or for a LEED certified new house, I still want to make a difference. Below are five suggestions for how Gen Y can positively impact their environment and simultaneously, their wallets without exerting too much effort.

Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

An Energy Star qualified CFL can save you $30 over its life time! This means that this little guy will pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses about 75% less energy and lasts 10x longer than a regular bulb (just remember to turn the lights off when you’re not using them too). If that isn’t convincing, check out this stat from the Energy Star website:

“If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600M in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to emissions of more than 800K cars.”

Use appliances during off-peak hours explains: "Peak" energy hours are the time of day during which the most electricity is used – typically daytime. During peak energy hours additional power plants, "peak-hour plants", are needed. If energy usage is spread out more evenly throughout the day, peak-hour plants will not need to be used.

So simply run your energy-sucking appliances like your dishwasher and washer/dryer between the hours of 9PM and 7AM. Moreover, many utilities companies will offer reduced energy rates during these hours.

Wash clothes in cold water

Approximately 90% of the energy used to wash clothes is used to heat the water. So grab some of that new Tide Coldwater detergent and go to town.

If you don't use it, you lose it

Even if you aren’t using your electronics, if they’re plugged in, they’re still sucking power. So instead of plugging your electronics into the wall, plug them into a power strip. This way, when your not using them, you can shut them all off at once. This also goes for things like your toaster and blender. Only plug those bad boys in when you’re using them, then unplug them when you’re done.

Use public transportation

What I find interesting, is that a lot of “green tips” put the C02 emission savings in relation to the comparable amount of cars you’re taking off the road. So why not just take your car off the road in the first place...

Yes, I recognize that this is not possible for everyone. But if it is, do it. It’s hugely eco-friendly and saves major cash.When I started using my city’s public transportation, I was saving around $200/mth in gas and parking expenses. That’s 200 items on the Dollar Menu or 200 rounds of beer on Dollar Beer Night for your 200 closest friends. Either that, or it’s a good chuck towards rent.

If you want some more tips, check out these sweet sites:

--Now Let Me Clear My Throat--
Josh Groth