In the Future Your Customers Will Completely Control Your Marketing

by Mack Collier

I recently saw a study into the content consumption habits of millenials that claimed that individuals ages 18 to 36 spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media.

Some forms of media are more important to millennials than others. Social media is a top priority, as 71 percent say that they engage in social media daily. User-generated content — which encompasses social-media posts, photos, blogs, email, texting and talking to others about media — occupies about 5.4 hours of the average millennial’s day. That’s 30 percent of their total daily media consumption.

The only rival to user-generated media is the old standby of traditional media — print, radio and television – which accounts for 33 percent of millennials’ media consumption.

Think about that for a minute.  Better yet, those of you that are over the age of 36, recall when you were children, in a pre-internet age.  How much time did you spend each day consuming media and what percentage of it was from traditional sources?  Contrast that with the 18 hours a day total and 6 hours of traditional media that millenials consume today and it’s clear to see how media consumption habits are changing.  More media is being consumed every day and increasingly it is coming from a source that is not paid for by brands.

This trend will only accelerate.  A couple of weeks ago when I went to get my haircut, the women that cuts my hair brought her 2 year-old nephew with her to the office.  How did she keep him entertained?  By giving him an iPad.  Here’s a child that cannot form coherent sentences yet, but he can use a computer.  By the time he’s 18, almost all of the media he consumes will come from people just like him, and little if any of it will come from your brand.

In the future your marketing messages will be spread via your customers.  They already are to a great degree, but your ability as a brand to create messages and send them directly to customers is increasingly being diminished.  Last week I keynoted at Strategy 2014 in Huntsville, and at the end of the day I participated on an ‘Ask the Experts’ panel (I call these ‘Stump the Chump’) with a few other speakers.  An attendee asked us which social media tool would be the next ‘hot’ thing.  What would be the next Twitter or Facebook.

It’s a question many brands want to know the answer to, and it’s completely the wrong question to ask.  Your focus shouldn’t be on understanding how to use social media tools, your focus should be on understanding why your customers are using social media tools.

That understanding only comes from increased interactions.  You need to focus today on increasing the number of direct interactions you have with your customers.  This will lead to you better understanding your customers, and they better understanding your brand.  Here’s why this is important:

Interactions

If you start interacting with your customers today, that will lead to understanding. So when we reach a not-so distant future where your customers completely control your marketing message, they will understand your brand, they will trust your brand and they will be able and willing to spread your marketing messages for you.

Your focus shouldn’t be on understanding social media tools, your focus should be on better understanding your customers so that you can create a more valuable experience for them today, so that you can earn their trust tomorrow.

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