Americans are More “Nostalgic”

John Hope-Johnstone

A couple of years ago, I had the honor of giving a talk about Social Media and Tourism to a class at Oregon State University. From that talk I made good friends with two of the students who both joined our firm as social media interns and one went on to become a full-time and excellent Social Media and PR Manager in the company.

What amazed me about this bright young woman was that her tastes were not of her own generation, nor even the generation behind, but they were for the 1950s!

As a CMO  I am intrigued about the power of nostalgia and I don’t think we are taping into it strongly enough. (With some notable exceptions like Chevy’s ad campaign for the Super Bowl. Take a look at this ad “Chevy Runs Deep”  .

As a country the U.S. in the Naughties (2000s) is a highly nostalgic place. In some respect we could replace “nostalgia” with the word “longing”. Many have a longing to return to a time when the weather was more stable, when the economy was more stable, when the dollar was strong and we actually exported something.

Any marketer who is involved in engaging people through social media today can do well to remember that from ages 28 through into the mid 60s our population needs comforting and they often get that comfort through nostalgia.

The word nostalgia derives from the Greek “nostos” (return) and “algos” (pain), suggesting suffering due to a desire to return to a place of origin.

The Future Laboratory co-founder Martin Raymond states that; “for many, the recession has been one stress too many. Hence, we are witnessing the rise of Revivalist thinking, a nostalgic yearning for all things past and comforting. Folk themes, folklore, folk fashions and the re-appearance of furniture and products with a quasi-nostalgic theme and a rose-tinted nostalgic viewpoint are all becoming more prominent.”

It’s not only the millions of Baby Boomers rushing into their mid sixties who are nostalgic. A recent study shows that many 28 to 40-year-old Gen Xers strongly reminisce about past times. If your last purchase was Star Trek, a Wispa, shoulder pads or school friend, then don’t fear, you are entirely typical of someone who lived through the Noughties,” says a report from financial services provider Standard Life, which concludes that more than any other decade, the 2000s were very retro.

Damian Barr, who wrote Get It Together (2004) about struggling 20-somethings, fears the generation that reached adulthood in the 1990s and 2000s could find themselves handicapped by excessive nostalgia. “We are less prepared for our difficult present by having had a very easy time of it when we were very young,” he says. “We grew up in a boom – we are living in a bust.” (Stephen Robb BBC News).

Tapping into nostalgia is tricky. You must know the generational cohort you are trying to reach very well. You must listen to their conversations and understand them and your message must be subtle and only hint of nostalgia not slap them in the face with it.

Thanks for reading. Please include a comment about your thoughts on nostalgia. Also, subscribe to the blog for more Social Media and marketing thoughts.

My Google+ Quandary

John Hope-Johnstone

A few weeks ago I was pondering Google + and where it was going to fit into my HPR Social Media Seminars and into my own social media world. I have no intention of abandoning my over 4,000 followers on my facebook business page and I don’t want to just repeat content from one platform onto another. I was trying to figure out how I could add value to Google + and my new friends on that platform. Usually a glass of wine or two helps but in this case I was stumped.

Then, a small unpretentious epiphany shone through the darkness…. why not ask my new G+ friends how they felt about Google + and the difference between it and facebook. WOW! Think of that, a marketing guy actually going to ask fellow consumers what they think, how original.

Well, some of the responses spelled out the obvious differences: Facebook still has the lion’s share and will be hard to beat as it comes up to nearly a billion possibly in 2012. However, Google has the advantage of “integration” with a huge arsenal of available tools to integrate with the social media platform such as: Google News, Entertainment, YouTube, Gmail and its Android platform and more. These will help create a fluid social experience on Google+.

It also has two failures behind it with Google Wave and Google Buzz. I say “failures” but like all good failures they were learning steps that Google had to take to finally get them to Google +.

Two responses from my new Google + friends were just what I was really hoping for. They speak about the present difference in the psychographics of the Google+ user over facebook. This, of course, will change over time.

Here is my original question as posted on Google+: 

“Hi my G+ friends, I have a question that needs your expertise. My firm teaches Internet and Social Media Marketing for brand promotion purposes to medium to large organizations. Personally I am floundering with Google +, which I like a lot, trying to determine how to differentiate my social media message on Google + vs Facebook. Any ideas?”

Here are the two answers that helped me a great deal in my quest:

From Dennis Rivera:

On G+, you have tech-savvy individuals and a ton of creative types looking to share, connect, and build a large community of individuals based on content or interest. So, regardless of whether or not you went to high school with someone, you’re connecting with the person because he or she is interested in the same things that you are. Businesses who think that they will have a single business-related presence on G+ will probably not do so well here. They will need multiple personal accounts, where employees are genuinely building connections with their audiences, relying on the intangible more than the tangible. I think that the Google employees on here are a perfect example of how businesses need to use the network. They are people first: interacting, sharing, being genuine, but at the same time, they are building brand loyalty.

This is a little scattered, but it’s midnight and I’m tired. I guess the general message to businesses is: The G+ community wants engagement.
Cater to the community and you will win.

From John Norris:

Maybe it’s just the folks I’m following, but Google+ seems to be a bit like Quora, some very knowledgeable folks in here at the moment. The communications the platform lends itself to seem to be more dialogs, and constructive ones at that.  Can’t quite put my finger on it, sort of a vibe I’m getting. Businesses will need to up their game to do well in Google+ at this time.

Thanks Dennis and John for your responses. They helped me a great deal.

Thanks to you for reading this post. I invite you to comment and add your thoughts about the use of Google+ and also subscribe to the e-newsletter if you haven’t already. If you have, great to see you again.

Does Social Media Marketing Really Work?

John Hope-Johnstone

Does social media marketing really work? Fewer than 1 percent of Website visits come directly from a social media URL according to research just released by customer satisfaction analytics experts ForeSee Results.

That’s not terribly exciting news. However, 18% of people surveyed say that they are influenced to visit a brand’s Web site OR purchase that brand because of social media. So here is my answer to that very important question, “does social media really work?”

NO! Not by itself but as part of an integrated marketing program it becomes a major influencer and a can double or triple the results of a regular campaign. At HPR Internet and Social Media Marketing Seminars and Coaching we have proven time and again that as part of an integrated campaign social media is a powerful tool. Left by itself it is valuable for brand loyalty but is not a “force” marketing medium.