BlogPageWelcome to my blog -- Grace's Rantings

I have made a study of human communication -- interpersonal as well as mass media.  I am intrigued by tremendous changes in human interaction in recent years.  The computer, Internet, smart phones and social media have dramatically changed the way we interact with each other.  Human discourse hasn't changed, but the mediums by which we communicate have..."and that has made all the difference".


Please share your thoughts and join in the discussion. I welcome your input and comments!


Media Habits of Millennials

Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are those young adults born sometime between the early 1980’s and the early 1990’s.  These 23-33 year olds are becoming more and more influential; they are starting their careers and families, and they will soon be the driving force in the population.

The media habits of Millennials are drastically different from young adults a generation ago.  According to a report in a recent edition of Inside Radio, 30% of Millennials daily media time is primarily spent with user-generated content (UGC).  UGC wasn’t even invented a generation ago!  According to Wikipedia, UGC is defined as including (but not limited to) digital videobloggingpodcastingforums, review-sites, social networkingsocial mediamobile phone photography and wikis.

Traditional media like television and radio only consume 10% and 7% of Millennials' media time respectively:

Medium % of Daily Media Time
User Generated Copy (UGC) 30%
Surfing the Internet 20%
Watching TV 10%
Playing Computer or Video Games 10%
Radio 7%

Not surprisingly, 71% of Millennials use social media on a daily basis, compared to 60% who report watching live TV and 53% who listen to radio daily; (this radio figure includes both broadcast and streaming).  And while 37% visit a news site online, only 18% read a print publication.

Millennials also report finding user generated copy 35% more memorable than other media sources, and 40% more trustworthy.

As we move forward, it is clear that traditional media’s audience and influence will continue to slip in favor of digital video, blogs, review sites, social media, photo sharing sites and whatever newer platforms arise.  Oh yeah, the times they are a changin’

Written a Letter Recently?

This year, I took up a challenge to write 52 letters in 52 weeks.  I initially read about the idea on a friend of a friend's blog-- I know, how "old school".

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But I enjoy getting mail that isn't a bill or advertising, so I thought it might be a fun way to communicate with friends and family.

I have really enjoyed the project.  Not to say that I have actually sent a letter each week!  But I have sent two or three some weeks so hopefully that makes up for the skipped weeks.

When I sit down to write a letter, I start by glancing at my address book (again, old school!) and seeing whose name pops out at me.  Then I start with the perfunctory:
"Hi, how are you doing"  and then from there I ask them about their family and work and before I know it I'm adding tidbits about my recent activities, my family, books I've read, movies I've seen, etc.

I really feel like I'm having  a cup of coffee and visiting with the person I am writing too.

Now when I see funny cards or pretty note paper, instead of just thinking, oh so and so would like that, I actually buy the card and send it to them with a personal note!

Taking the time to write to a friend is a totally different experience than dashing off a quick e-mail or clicking "like" on their Facebook post.  I think the act of  thinking about what I am are going to say, and writing it down changes the experience, proving once again that the medium is the message.

Community is the Key

It seems that every day businesses and even whole industries are disappearing, falling victim to the computer age.  The computer and the Internet are not only meeting our needs more quickly and less expensively, but are also providing a sense of community.  Businesses and services that tap into this sense of community are succeeding, while those that aren't, aren't!

newspaperIn the media world, the internet has all but made the daily newspaper obsolete.  (Personally I still get the daily  paper, but mainly because I like to do the crossword puzzle and Sudoku and I've yet to find a satisfying on-line version.) Reading the newspaper on the internet not only provides the most up to date news, but also allows us to interact with others by reading their comments and adding our own to the dialogue.

Back in the day, we used to have our favorite radio station.  We had a relationship with the DJ who talked to us in real radiotime and educated us about the music he or she was playing.  As radio became more corporate, stations began playing automated formats, disc jockeys became announcers and often their program was (and is) prerecorded.  As we lost our sense of community with the station, the DJ and the other listeners, our local radio station became irrelevant, opening the door for satellite radio and internet radio.

Now we wonder if Sirius XM,  Pandora and Spotify kill conventional radio.  Personally, I love my satellite radio, as a matter of fact many of the DJs from my youth are on satellite radio!   I haven't gotten involved with the other options... yet.  There is a great article that outlined all the many radio and music service options, it is worth a read.

And what about the king of all media--television?  Back when there were only 3 network stations and we relied on them for our news, we had a relationship with the news anchors.   We sat down to watch either Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather.  Well those days are gone.  Cable television has already taken a large chunk of the broadcast television audience. and with DVR’s, On-Demand, Apple TV, Hulu, etc. how long will commercial TV as we know it exist?  I know that I DVR my favorite shows so that I can watch them at a time that is more convenient for me and yes, I must admit, I usually fast forward through the commercials.  (Although I do believe the viewer gets a valuable impression as they are watching the commercial in fast forward).

Kodachrome_box And film -- gone.  Digital cameras have almost completely replaced film cameras.  As a matter of fact, Kodak has stopped making Kodachrome film and has filed Chapter 11.   Polaroid, on the other hand, has managed to stay abreast of the industry and stay true to their market through instant printers and by introducing Polaroid for Android.  Again, allowing their customers to create community.

Let's not forget book stores.  The advent of the Kindle and other electronic readers is destroying the printed book business.  Borders closed their remaining stores and went out of business in 2011.  Barnes and Noble manages to  hang on due to the success of their Nook, but they are having a tough time competing with Amazon's lower priced Kindle.  (I imagine that their cafe is a large draw for consumers.)

Speaking of Amazon, will they eventually replace the retail store as we know it?  As the retail shopping experience has become more and more impersonal, there is no affinity toward the retailer so what does it matter if we buy from a big box store or on the internet?  Some communities are combating this trend by encouraging consumers to shop local allowing them to develop a relationship with the shopkeeper and the community at large.

The movie theater is still relevant, even with Netflix, on-demand movies and streaming onto our mobile devises.  I believe that has to do with the social aspect of going to the movies and the community aspectof the theater.

Look at what is happening to college education.  On-line classes and on-line university enrollment has surpassed traditional learning.  These on-line options have found a way to bring together a group of students in a virtual classroom, and rather than have them feel isolated as they are studying alone in their pajamas, the schools have found a way to unite their students in a community in cyber space.

Another phenomenon is the coffee shop.  You would think that with all the specialty coffees available for home consumption and the starbucks ease of making good coffee at home thanks to Keurig and others that the coffee houses would begin to disappear.  But instead they are flourishing.  In the small city where I live, there are six coffee shops within 2 blocks, and they are all thriving!  Why?  because again, coffee shops have embraced the electronic age; they offer free wi-fi to encourage people to sit and linger and meet in their establishment -- and they do.

Coffee houses, on-line universities, movie theaters, and even digital newspapers offer a sense of community.  It seems that for a business or industry to survive, they need to tap in and nurture community.

When is all this Media too Much?

multi tasking

Do you feel like you are being pulled in several directions at once?

Do you have trouble concentrating?

Join the club!

And, no, you probably don't have adult ADD.

Our culture commends and reveres people who are always on the go. If we aren’t busy and multitasking, we feel like we are unproductive or wasting time! How crazy is that? Trying to do two things at once (or three or four) results in nothing being done well. Sure, sometimes circumstances arise that make us really busy and require us to do two thing at the same time, but this shouldn’t be the way we live the majority of our lives. And if we are on overload during our leisure time, something is really wrong!

If we try to do everything at once, we actually accomplish nothing. The vast multitude of media options certainly has compounded the problem. The other night, I was watching two TV shows at once. watching tv (One was on the DVR and the other live. I watched the live show, then paused it when the commercials came on and went to the recorded show, after a while I went back to the live show, and fast forwarded until I got to the content, watched the segment and paused it again when they took a break, went back to the DVR’ed show, etc.)

Besides this, I was reading and commenting on the iphone-textingtweets for the live show, checking my Facebook feed and playing Words with Friends (which sometimes included texting messages back and forth). Needless to say, I don’t even remember what I was watching on TV, and I lost all of the word games!

I don’t believe this proliferation of media has truly helped us, nor that we are better off now than we were 10 years ago because we can watch TV, tweet, post updates to Facebook, e-mail, text, play games, and talk on our own personal phones -- all at the same time! We are fragmented and distracted. Our concentration is slipping. But, the real question is, what sort of condition will we be in 10 years from now???

All Communication is Social

There really isn't anything new about Facebook or Twitter. We are social beings, we like to communicate with each other. The technology has allowed us to communicate differently, but communicate is what we've always done. Shortly after Homo Sapiens cave drawinggraced the scene, we developed language to communicate with each other, and a thousand or so years later we developed written communication. The rest is history!

Up until fairly recently in human history, our communication consisted of the hand written letter. It took awhile to write, a week to get to the recipient, and another week or so for the response to get back to us. Oh the waiting. Do mailboxyou remember checking the mail box and the feeling of excitement when there was a letter from a friend?

A century or so ago, the telegraph allowed us to communicate more quickly, and the then the telephone introduced instantaneous oral communication across the miles. We could talk in real time to someone who was physically far away from us. Back when there was one phone line in the house, I'm sure you remember running for the phone, saying, "I'll get it", because just maybe the call was for you!

In more recent times, along came e-mail and we could type up a quick note in a few seconds, hit send, and if the recipient was at their computer, they could write back in just a few minutes.  email Even if they weren't there, we often got a response within the day. With e-mail, we can even send a note to a group of people at once. Plus, just like opening the mailbox and finding a letter, there is still some excitement about having an e-mail from a friend in your in-box.

Next came Instant Messenger. As it's name says. Instant Messenger allows us have instant conversation, (somewhat like we do with a phone call). We can write and respond sentence by sentence. With IM, we can even have different conversations with multiple people simultaneously. And yes, when we are working at our computer and we get a little IM sound letting us know that someone wants to chat, our curiosity is piqued and we stop what we are doing to read the message.

The written letter was one-to-one communications, e-mail was mostly one-to-one, but could be one-to-many, IM opened up the many-to-many communication channel. Then along came "social media", like Facebook and Twitter and we have the ability to social mediacommunicate to hundreds, even thousands instantaneously. And. unlike earlier forms of communication, we may not know many of the people at the other end of our communication, certainly we may not don't know them all very well.

But, whether it is a written letter, telegraph, telephone, e-mail, IM, Facebook or twitter, the basic premise is the same -- human interaction. The technology has changed, and often we get so wrapped up in the new technology that we lose sight of what it is we are doing ... we are communicating with others; we are being social.

More Choices for News

According to a Pew Research poll, Americans now spend 70 minutes a day getting their news. New technology has not replaced older forms of media for news and information, but rather has added to them. Americans now spend more time getting news each day. from more sources. We spend 57 minutes with traditional news media: television, radio, newspaper, and an additional 13 minutes with on-line news sources.

The vast majority of Americans still get most their news from television. The survey found the source from which Americans get their news is:

Television 58%
• The television number has held consistent over the past 14 years.

Radio 34%
• Down 9% from 2000

Internet 34%
• While 34% report getting their news from the internet, when you add in cell phones, social networks, e-mail and pod-casts, this number jumps to 44%

Daily Newspaper 31%
• Daily newspaper is down 16% over the past decade.
• In 2010, while only 26% of Americans report having read a print version of a daily newspaper. 17% of Americans say they read a newspaper online yesterday or visited a newspaper website.

17% of Adults report having read/seen/heard no news yesterday
27% of Adults under 30 report no exposure to news yesterday!

Obviously there are differences when you look at the different age and gender data, and for more detailed information refer to the complete complete survey

Where do you get your news?

Don't Fear the Reviewer

Businesses have used the web to help generate growth in a variety of ways. Though it provides businesses with increased marketing opportunities and exposure, the Internet also provides multiple outlets for online customer reviews, which can be anything but helpful depending on how you use them.  Angie’s list, Yelp, Ripoff Report, and Google reviews are just a few of the many places where happy or disgruntled customers can share their opinions with anyone and everyone.

If you have ever written or read any customer reviews you know, they can be pretty extreme.  In my personal experience, the only time I think about writing a review is when I have a bad experience or a truly excellent one. No one writes a review to say, it was good…just as I expected it to be.

The trick is to take these sometime negative reviews as constructive criticism, and use them to open a dialogue with your customer and to improve.

However, some businesses are afraid of the Internet and of the change it will bring and instead of using the comments to their benefit, they delete them so no one else will see. This not only diminishes the amount of trust consumers will have for your company, but it’s pointless.  If someone has written a bad review of your company on a review site, you can bet they posted it on their Facebook page, tweeted about it, and quite old-school, told everyone who would listen.

Truth is, according to a recent article in only 25% of online consumers report not purchasing something because of the negative reviews. Allowing people to voice their opinions, using them to have a conversation with your customer, and taking those opinions to heart will result in a higher customer turnaround rating and an overall better business.

So don’t be afraid to welcome comments and take heed to what people are saying about your business on the web!

Put Consumers First

We all know how important a website is for promotion and consumer information.  But what elements are most important in creating this website?  Is it ease of use and navigation or uniqueness of design and cutting edge technology?

In the recent study done by J.D. Power and Associates (2010 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study (MWES)—Wave 2),  they found that websites focusing on brand image promotion and interesting design hindered vehicle shoppers more than websites focusing on usability.  The Honda website, for example, focuses on usability and performed well in each of the four areas tested:  speed, appearance, navigation and information/content.

Certain design elements on marketing focused sites like Jaguar’s hinder speed, ease of navigation and user access to information and content.  These websites try to make their logo a key element in the design in exchange for the traditional pull down menu style with which consumers are more familiar and comfortable.

The lesson here (and it can be applied to marketing in general) is when designing a website focus on putting the needs of the consumer needs ahead of the design!

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