If you were to talk to a sixth grader about blogs or social networks or streaming video, you'd be having a conversation with a first-generation "digital native." While the rest of us learn new media as a second language—with varying levels of skill and comprehension—this emerging segment speaks Web 2.0 with accent-free fluency.
In an article at MarketingProfs, our content chief Ann Handley uses her 11-year-old daughter as an example of the digital native. "Caroline's comfort with social media tools and her innate knowledge on how to use email to drive traffic surpass that of most grownups I know," says Handley. "It even surpasses her older brother's; just five years [her senior], he isn't nearly as digitally fluent as she is."
According to Handley, reaching digital natives requires what experts like David Meerman Scott call the "new rules" of marketing. They include:
- Offering or sponsoring online research tools.
- Refreshing content constantly.
- Tossing out marketing-speak and a product-centric viewpoint.
- Monitoring the conversation, and participating.
- Being completely transparent.
Handley also notes that you have to be prepared for the worst if you irk a digital native. "A ticked off customer has a larger platform, and negative feedback can send ripples excruciatingly far."
Your Marketing Inspiration: "Rather than pushing marketing messages out to digital natives," says Handley, "[engage] with your customers on an entirely different level." Use the tools and social platforms they use; start a dialogue, not a monologue; and produce content they want to consume.
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