Are millennials the same on the other side of the world?

There is much discussion about the millennial generation (also generation Y) in the United States because of sheer purchasing power. We are a generation of consumers and therefore very influential in how companies strategically engage with publics. The generation is defined by technology and prides themselves in being founded by social movements. Engagement is key; millennials want to be involved, and are strongly opinionated, therefore making them an integral key to business due their impact and involvement in public opinion. The infographic shows some common characteristics of millennials.

As I am about to embark on a trip to South Korea, it occurred to me, are millennials the same everywhere? Are they at least similar? Do we use technology for the same reasons?who-are-millennials-social-media-marketing-infographic-small1

Millennials in the United States
Millennials are the generation born from around 1977 to 1995 (+/- a couple of years depending on where you read it). There’s an estimated 80 million of them in the United States. They are inherently tech-savvy and socially influential to marketers. A Barkley research study estimated that the American millennials 25% of the total population and are $200 billion dollars of the buying power in the United States. It has been said that the generation is aware of their power and influence and thus uses that to ensure their involvement and engagement with brands and companies. The millennial cohort are a very optimistic bunch and tend to perceive their innovativeness and impact on businesses as characteristics that will change society.

Millennials in South Korea
There are an estimated 660 million Asian individuals born with the category of Generation Y. The numbers vary from country to country depending on diverse cultural situations and technological interconnectedness of the country. South Korea is a developed country and very tech-savvy. 80 % of millennials have smartphones, and they use them for everything from online banking to perusing the internet to accessing social media. Facebook is not #1 in Korea, they have Cyworld.

The use of technology for Korean millennials is said to be more on track towards profitability and the overall bottom line for businesses. Additionally, Korean millennials are very active participants in politics and civic engagement, the Internet being their main avenue for being involved.
With all of this in mind, the Korean population is rapidly aging. As the country has developed, people are living longer, but not extending their families. Even though South Korea is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, the absence of young people is causing concern for the future of business talent. While this will challenge the country, the advanced systems of technology will hopefully reenergize the aging population.

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I think it’s safe to say that the outlook for future leadership is positive. Millennials around the globe are bold and innovative, and want to have a positive impact on the future. South Korea appears to be a country that may struggle with the population trends and the future of business, however collaboration between the two countries may help.

An article published in Time presented the argument that millennials in the United States are graduating without jobs and heading to Asia to seek opportunities. The possibilities are endless. It will be interesting to watch the trends in the future as relations with Asia develop and their economies technological advances continue to be competitive.

Can K-pop stay quiet?

South Korea is a constitutional democracy in which citizens vote for the president and the National Assembly of leaders in free elections. The country enjoys “mostly” free speech, aside from their fervent criminalization of anything supporting North Korea, and significant number of blocked websites and online discussions. South Korea is a country with quick Internet connection and very “wired”, thus encouraging people to be online. However, it is said that the government exercises power over Internet content. As a global leader in Internet and broadband connection, Korean online media is integral to forming and shaping public opinion. Korean pop music is heavily supported by the government and thanks to mobile devices and social media sites, mainly YouTube, the music culture in Korea is believed to be driving social change not only for the country, but the world.

Post-dictatorship South Korea experienced relief from censorship and free expression in the late 90s when censorship on domestic and foreign music was lifted. As a collectivist nation, there are certain standards and expectations of children regarding their futures in education and careers, but there remains a spirit of rebellion. It comes in the form of K-pop (Korean pop music). Children and teens are not only changing their answers to “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, but they are being recruited into Korean pop music.

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When government censorship did not allow the distribution of pop music, distributors and producers resorted to the back alleys of YouTube to export music to foreign countries. K-pop quickly became one of Korea’s biggest export, however artists still have to go through “multi-layer censorship system”:

  • The television networks have strict guidelines.
  • The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family control pop music for lyrics and styles that are “appropriate” for listeners. They try to regulate insubordinate communication, material that seems like it would be harmful to minors, and sexual content.
  • Any government entity can find a song too sexist, political, or anti-government.

The regulations are essentially ambiguous and inconsistent in the criterion that condemns pop music to an unsuitable status. While the government does have media regulations in place, as the lucrative and expansive affects of exporting K-pop became, the government modified existing policies to accommodate. South Korea has been known to shut down or delete content that criticize the government and citizens are required by law to verify their identity by using their real names. As a result, Korean young people have resorted to using their parents identities to skirt the laws of the Internet and gain access to sites they would otherwise be banned from.

The Internet and social media allowed K-pop to freely air content on YouTube, when Korea television networks denied them or censored them. It is an interesting dynamic to examine the elements of speech and expression that are “allowed” and embraced in South Korea, but for a country that calls itself “creatively driven”, doesn’t hold much faith in their music industry, contrary to financial successes and global reach. K-pop is transforming Korean society. For example during the 2012 presidential elections, both candidates used K-pop songs for their campaigns.

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It is suspected that with the success of K-pop and television stations no longer being able to act as gatekeepers, which the government in effect will lose their control of K-pop because digital social media will no longer allow censorship to work as it had before. South Koreans exercise their access to online technology and utilize it for civic engagement and political mobilization. K-pop has been used as a strategic platform for the unofficial support of nationalist efforts, policy support, and commercial affairs with multinational corporations like Samsung and LG.  In 2013, YouTube was used as the platform for an investigative journalism project, Newstapa, that drew over six million views, the same platform used to broadcast K-pop. Also, lest we forget, Psy’s Gangnam Style was banned by a major television station due to the “public property damage”; and now one of the most watched and parodied songs ever. The video went viral with 100 million views on YouTube as of September 2012.

As I am about to visit South Korea, the global phenomenon of K-pop is intriguing in that it seems to have an extensive influence on the culture. The government, making this very thought provoking dynamic to ponder, heavily supports the K-pop culture. How long will their censorship on content last with the global presence, support, and collaboration that K-pop generates? With K-pop being a global sensation, what kind of cultural authority will the Korean government be able to establish over the vast digital and social media realm?

There were an estimated 111 million viewers of Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2nd. As the advertisements often hold more clout than the football game itself and the ad spots retailed for about $4 million each, Coca-Cola aired the song “America is Beautiful” being sung in 8 different languages. Additionally, diverse couples, relationships and landscapes were also represented. These qualities are reflective of the unique American culture, and encompass Coca-Cola as a global company. Curiosity encouraged research of the opinions that followed, specifically what was being said on Twitter.

In dissecting the messaging with the #AmericaisBeautiful from February 3-7, the estimated reach of the campaign was about 26,968 impressions and 19,703 “Tweets” in the week following the Super Bowl. Utilizing a hashtag is a great communication tool on Twitter as a way to cultivate relationships with stakeholders and make the company or campaign easily searchable.    The news media broadcasted the negative responses,  however the responses actually  were overwhelmingly positive, supportive, or a counterattack to those utilizing #boycottcoke, #speakamerican, or #teampepsi. By sheer number of people reached was advantageous to Coca-Cola.

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It’s clearly shown that following the Superbowl ad, the number of times that #AmericaisBeautiful was used; heavily out numbered the frequency of negative hashtags that were trending that same week. For every negative response, there was an average of 15 favorable ones. At 2.3 million followers, the running theme was for people to post a “quippy” response of recognition and admiration to Coca-Cola along with a picture or historical fact that reinforced the company’s message of unity and diversity.  Favorable responses included, but were not limited to, the office of the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, Ryan Seacrest, and Cheerios.  While these did not appear to be solicited endorsements, it was gratifying to see larger brands and people defend brand image and corporate reputation, these were also comments that were retweeted, thus perpetuating the reach of the campaign.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 3.00.07 PMScreen Shot 2014-02-19 at 3.01.10 PMExtending the company message of inclusion and multiculturalism with Americasselfie.com  was an outstanding way to continue the campaign and extend interactivity and collaboration. On this site, photos were uploaded by people to show why they think America is beautiful,  utilizing the same #AmericaisBeautiful. It was a brilliant way to build and enhance relationships with consumers and those that supported the campaign. Additionally, this was an excellent way to utilize the current trend of “selfies” and promote two-way communication with followers. A Coca-Cola product did not have to be present in the photo, which makes consumers feel involved and valued.

“For 127 years, Coca-Cola has been proud to be a part of bringing friends and families together while memories are made,” said Katie Bayne, president, North America Brands, Coca-Cola North America. “With ‘It’s Beautiful,’ we are simply showing that America is beautiful, and Coke is for everyone.”

Coca-Cola aired a commercial in 1971 “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”  which conveyed a similar message as this one. The results show that the overall emotional response was positive, supportive, enjoyable, and appreciative. As a company attaining a Klout score of 92 and being named “trendsetters”, exemplifies their abilities as a company of being high-impact, high-influence, and highly engaged. The #AmericaisBeautiful campaign succeeded in utilizing the features of Twitter as an avenue for brand awareness and to show an active presence on a social network.

(graphics provided by Hootsuite, Twitter, and globalbrands.com)

What’s in a name?

Statistics from www.mediabistro.com

It has been unclear to me exactly what a social media specialist, coordinator, or director’s job description is. Why are there so many names to describe an occupation?  Each potential interviewee had a different job title but essentially the same responsibilities it seemed.  So what’s in a name?

It has been remarkable to observe how social media is not the once intended outlet for solely social networking; it’s more about work than fun. In fact, it’s a job title complete with it’s own description(s) and is an asset to any company big and small. Magnetic is an ad targeting agency in New York City. They help agencies and advertisers gather data to target a “relevant audience”. Sydney Campos, the Communications Manager at Magnetic, did not have an education that focused on social media. She stated that:  “I was surprised to find how advertising and marketing were a great fit to everything that she learned in her studies in political science and Latin American studies.” She continued, “social entrepreneurship and new media were actually built into majors during college; never imagining that I could tune into them through a career in marketing.” My sentiments about our studies thus far are similar to what Ms. Campos described to me.  I never expected to identify with, let alone find a connection with my professional goals, in what we have learned about globalization, public relations, and now media and technology. As I do not have a digital/social media background, I am now finding that, maybe I do.

It was also great to hear that due to the way that media and media technology is constantly changing, everyday and every project is different. Ms. Campos described her job as one with “changing projects, priorities, and challenges.”  As someone who embraces change and any opportunity to learn something new, the communications and media profession seems to be one that keeps you on your toes. Ms. Campos explained that to keep up with current trends she checks her preferred news feeds throughout the day. I breathed a sigh of relief, as I do the same, and thought to myself that I might actually be on the right track to somewhere and not just procrastinating on something else I should be doing.

She also said that recently she took an intensive InDesign workshop. We can all relate to the challenge factor, but, it was a personal step to supplement her work, and even though it was “a lot of information to absorb, it was super helpful”. While it was motivating to hear that a professional was learning the same thing that we are, it was also relieving to hear that she is still able to execute her writing skills. I would hate to think that we write all of these papers just for our sensational writing skills to go to the wayside. Ms. Campos is currently working on case study requests for their sales team, content for their corporate site, and brainstorming ideas for mobile marketing initiatives. Mobile Marketing I asked? Is that like when I get advertisements on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook? Well, let no market or media outlet go untouched. Ms. Campos, who has worked in digital media since 2010, said that, “the advent of social advertising has totally changed the way brands do business and communicate with customers. Advertisers now have so many options in terms of who they can reach and how/when- multi-channel advertising is exploding!” She gave me the example of Macy’s. This struck me as interesting because major department stores are not in the forefront of my mind when thinking mobile advertising. She provided me with this link to investigate their marketing plan for this year: http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/strategy/17003.html

The article goes on to explain how they are aiming at personalization and image recognition. Essentially, they are aiming at a “holistic marketing strategy”. In reading this, it is an interactive approach, which seems the key for companies. The way that people identify with brands, personalization is the way to communicate with publics. Chris Malone and Susan Fiske collaborated on writing  “The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Places, and Companies”. They describe the correlation between how individuals deeply identify with brands and how human emotion is targeted, essentially driving our consumer behavior. Doesn’t it strike everyone else as odd when Facebook seems to know exactly what you want or want to look at? The analytic reports  that can be derived from social media is fascinating, and thanks to HootSuite, not entirely hard to produce.

Overall, conducting this interview was quite insightful in learning about productivity, branding strategies, and the communications/social media profession.  It’s intriguing, yet scary to think about social media professionals and the countless opportunities, skills, and projects at their disposal. Social media is not just for fun anymore; it is a necessary entity of the professional world.

The below infographic illustrates staggering numbers in how social/digital media jobs have evolved and developed by 1,357% in 2013! It’s hard for me, and I’m sure anyone, to wrap my mind around anything over 100%. It’s comforting to know that in times of trouble that media and technology professions are not going anywhere, but daunting to think that I could potentially be apart of these astounding statistics, no matter what job title I might end up with.

The Rise Of The Social Professional [INFOGRAPHIC]