Going off the grid: Channel 4, the Social Partners & more on whether millennials are really ditching social

Actress, writer and millennial poster girl Lena Dunham has taken a step back from Twitter, calling the platform a “toxic environment”, and a recent Piper Jaffray study shows only 15 per cent of US teens cite Facebook as their favourite social network. i-D magazine meanwhile says Gen Z are going off the grid to avoid the “lawless clusterfuck” of social.

So is this really the case, and should marketers be worried?

Alley Branley, social media marketing manager, Channel 4

There isn’t a case study, it’s all conjecture. When millennials and Gen Z-ers age, will they develop ‘older people’s habits’ or are they just different? The only thing we know is that we don’t know.

Marketers need a plan based on looking after the dominant platforms of the day for today’s return and tactically experimenting with emerging platforms to safeguard tomorrow’s. I don’t think this is peculiar to social media; it’s just a logical way to run a business.

Laura May-Coope, director and co-founder, You Need a Social Life

For marketers, looking for a long-term solution is pretty impossible. Social media changes and develops so quickly that your strategies need to be constantly evolving, which means working with producers and teams who are native to these platforms who can help make sure your content is suited to each separate social space, not just posted everywhere to hit different audiences.

It's also important to realise that not all social spaces are necessarily right for you, and there's no pressure to be on something like Snapchat if it just isn't right for your brand or audience.

Gareth Price, head of research and insight, The Social Partners

I haven’t seen any compelling evidence younger people are fleeing social media en masse; perhaps the question we should really be asking ourselves is why we spend so much time pandering to them in particular?

As marketers, our first goal remains reaching as many buyers in our category as possible, regardless of their generation. Across every demographic, including all younger age groups, Facebook continues to offer the largest social reach. Despite the misleading headlines, often based on anecdotal evidence or questions around likeability rather than usage, it remains the best social network to achieve this.

Eamonn Carey, entrepreneur in residence, Techstars

The challenge for marketers is to be more nimble in the face of this. The entire industry needs to figure out how to move faster, test more, track effectiveness differently and generally be open to trying new things. The smarter brands and agencies are already doing this through smaller test and learn budgets, PoCs, sponsorship, direct investments and much more besides.

The long-term outlook is that people will spend even more time on phones and online – on a wider variety of platforms and apps than ever before. The logical long-term strategy for marketers who don’t want to miss the boat on this is to test lots of these new opportunities and optimise for what works best.

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