The other night I pestered my 12-year-old "tweenager" to go to bed. It was getting late, and she was up past her bedtime. "Mom, one more minute... please," my daughter begged. "I want to finish this blog post."
She was writing the latest post on a new blog she co-writes with a friend. Modeled on the Disney TV show iCarly, their show is a text and video blog written on the Vox platform—so they can control the distribution. (They don't want the more icky boys at school to have access to it, for example.) They produce the 10-minute video "shows" each Sunday afternoon using my Flip video camera, and they update the "behind the scenes" in text posts throughout the week. They alert their fans about new episodes via email.
I would guess that two sixth-graders' writing, directing, and producing their own video show really isn't that unusual today. YouTube is stuffed silly with kids on camera and behind it, too. But, nonetheless, it's pretty amazing, isn't it?
The youngest generation are digital natives. They seem to intrinsically know this stuff, and they have an easy confidence with it that even I—with my love for it and immersion in it—lack.
Much has been written about how this new generation of digital natives experiences the world: how they learn, live, relate, think, connect, fantasize, play, process, and communicate. One of the best descriptions I've ever read on the topic was based on an article written a decade ago by visionary Marc Prensky, who argues that new media and technology have inherently changed the way Digital Natives think, often in positive ways. In his article, Twitch Speed Learning, Keeping up with Young Workers Prensky identifies 10 ways that digital natives "think differently."
So what's this mean for businesses, specifically, who want to reach digital natives? And what's it mean for marketers who want to reach others, too, who are increasingly adopting new digital tools and are empowered by them?
It means focusing on what David Meerman Scott and others call the "new rules" of marketing. Rather than pushing marketing messages out to digital natives, it means engaging with your customers on a entirely different level.
It means talking directly to your customer where they are—on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, and other social platforms. It means giving your customers the tools to interact with your product or service however they choose. It means producing content your customers actually like and want to read or engage with.
It means more conversation, more education, and less one-way communication and less sitting behind your desk waiting to take an order.
Read "9 Ways to Reach Digital Natives (Part 2)" here.
Ann Handley is an 11-year veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Currently, Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, which provides strategicand tactical marketing know-how for marketing and business professionals through a full range of online media and live events. She also blogs at Annarchy, her acclaimed personal web blog.
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