I just got back from South Beach, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada. It has been a very busy month, but it was fantastic going around to all of the music and bar conferences. I got to speak, I got to be on different panels, and I got to share a lot of great insights and wisdom. I also got to answer a ton of really great questions, which I will be sharing the answers to throughout my upcoming blogs and podcasts.
Right now, I’m going to talk about Generation Z, which is the young generation that came about after the Millennials. These are the kids that are upwards in their teens and in their very early 20’s at the moment. Of course, this is the group that is starting to become the customers our industry primarily serves. That is why you need to know what differences there are with the way this type of customer interacts on social media and various platforms as opposed to the Millennials that you’re probably just getting used to dealing with on a daily basis.
I got a chance to observe a lot of the behavior of these individuals when I was in South Beach and Las Vegas, and what I have noticed is that Generation Z is leaning towards a more intimate social network. What I mean by that is the more traditional social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram, are open networks. In other words, unless you make your account private, anyone can see what you’re posting. I mean, you can set some privacy settings, but for the most part, these entail a very open type of interaction. Even if I’m not following you on Twitter, or on Instagram, I can go to your account and see what’s going on.
Generation Z has gotten very used to having a closed, intimate network. Snapchat is one example of a platform that allows for this type of interaction. This generation is also prone to using messaging apps like Facebook Messenger to interact. This means that you can’t see their posts or into their conversations. That is, unless you’re actually following them on a personal basis. I’m not sure when their behavior started to change, but I think this started around the time Snapchat first came out. Back then, the individuals that I am speaking of were pretty young, but I think this contributed to their liking a closed social media network.
Can you blame them? It’s not very cool when Grandma and Mom can see your pictures from the nightclub you were at last night. This is why you’re starting to see a lot of Instagram accounts that are private these days, and now that this generation sees more platforms offer this, they are starting to jump on them as well. This is a behavior change that’s taking place at the moment, and you may even notice that Millenials and some of the older generations are starting to turn to the more private networks too.
The more and more we use systems and platforms that are very different, the more our own behavior changes. When you’re a marketer, this particular change presents a pretty serious problem. How do we reach these customers when you can no longer advertise to them? Now, we’ve talked about Facebook Messenger is coming out with ads, but they haven’t released this feature yet. That’s because Facebook is being very, very picky about how it’s going to do that. It might be a blast-messaging feature, which would be much like the SMS messaging that came out years ago.
Facebook isn’t sure how they are going to go about this yet, and for the time being, Snapchat doesn’t offer any ads at all. If you go to the “Stories” area, you can see that this is being used by major brands like Disney, NFL, and MTV. They’ve been able to purchase areas where fans can see their stories, but every nightclub or bar out there isn’t going to be able to do the same. So, if Generation Z isn’t on the major advertising platforms, and they can’t be reached through these more personal networks, how do you get your message across to them? At the moment, I would say that the best way to do so is to reach them one by one.
You slowly chip away at the problem by adding these individuals to your accounts. That’s how it’s done. Just like in the old days, when a promoter would slowly build up their audience by getting people’s phone numbers or email addresses. That’s what’s going on right now with Snapchat and all of these other messaging systems. Get people on your WhatsApp or your Facebook messenger. That’s the way you contact people individually.
When it comes to Snapchat, there’s no way to advertise your account. They can’t just find you in a Newsfeed. They have to know about you first. So, you use your other networks to get their attention. You’ll need to post stuff on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that reminds people to go follow you on Snapchat. Those are the kinds of things that you need to do to build up your following. Once you have their attention on these closed networks, then it becomes easier to market to them.
There are many different messaging services out there, and this is becoming more and more prevalent. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Kik are just a few examples of enclosed messaging systems. They are all basically like the text messaging system on your phone, but these are carried online. One really great aspect of this is that you can communicate with people around the world without incurring any charges for your text messages.
The greatest way to advertise your bar using these closed networks, in my opinion, is to build up an audience and a following on them and then use these same networks to communicate with your audience. These younger groups of people don’t care to use their phones to call places or to use their email. They don’t want to text message you on their phone either because they like to keep their text messages private, and they don’t want to get your spam emails. They are mostly using these messaging services currently, and the best thing you can do is play in their sandbox. That means you need to use the same messaging services they do.
While you should still allow people to call you for reservations and other such things, let them know that they can use WhatsApp to contact you and Facebook Messenger. People love that ease of use, and they are used to it. You also need to try and create some interaction. Again, ask them to message you for things. For example, you might give out a secret code, and if they message you, give them a special coupon. The point is to get them to use the network that they are used to, and let them know that you’re just as cool as them. That makes sense, right? You want to identify with the network you are trying to come across to.
You might have to work this one on one type of system right now, but more advertising options may come about in the future. If that’s the case, you’ll already be on all of these networks and built up a nice following by then. This way, you’re not going to be way behind the game. You may remember that back in the day, people use to say, “What do I need a website for? I have a Yellow Pages ad.” A lot of people jumped on the opportunity, but others felt like they didn’t need to utilize the technology. These were the people who looked really bad a few years down the line when they didn’t have a website yet, or maybe they had one that looked awful because they didn’t devote enough to it.
Things are moving very quickly nowadays. Make sure you’re paying attention. It’s important that you at least try out these different platforms to see if they are viable for you and your business. If you are serving customers that are primarily between the ages of 20 and 25, you better start figuring these things out. You need to test things out to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to reaching your audience.
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