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Canvy Facebook messenger for kids

Social media market enlargement – as reflected in Messenger for kids

We seem to be hearing a lot about technology use among seniors and/or social media for the elderly. Of course, this is just one side of the audience spectrum, while the other consists of the young(est) audience. Both segments are potential sources for a demographic market enlargement, as they provide constant technology and social media users, currently embedded in the overall audience.

Targeting these categories separately would surely be a profitable move – but is it also a common sense decision?

 

Quick case study of the Messenger for kids situation

The Facebook Messenger App for kids is designed for “kids 6-12 to connect with their family and friends, with parental controls to ensure they do so safely. It includes real-time video chat with AR effects for more fun!” – see more details here.

But why the fragmentation? Of course, as a contact management app, we may easily say that the more social media channels, the better. This means that people have an increasingly acute need to centralize various messages incoming on different channels, much to their exasperation. As long as the main channels are integrable at a policy level, as well as at a technical level, their fragmentation provides for the thriving of contact management apps.

However the question remains – why go for fragmentation, as a social media company? The messenger for kids seem to be packing in Snapchat-esque features and a hybrid type of parental control, where Facebook vouches for parental approved content circulating between the kids, yet the parents cannot see the chats. At least that’s what we gathered from a brief browsing of this topic.

The audience would consist of the kids that already use the full Messenger (doubtfully, since going for a lesser, more childish version is frankly a no-no), and the kids that would use the full Messenger, but aren’t allowed to. So it would be parent-approved, Facebook-supervised tool. The dream of every 6-12 child that yearns for digital communications.

 

How about the elderly?

Imagining a symmetrical move to the other side of the audience spectrum, the elderly should get their own Facebook or Messenger, where they could… I don’t know, exchange nostalgia messages, apply retro filters, play Bingo or have other “specific” activities.

Isn’t it weird how we stand united in separation? Why split the audience (besides dreams of, no, not of sugar plums, but of profit), and this after a century long experience that people do not like to do as they are told?

The elderly do, generally, have more time on their hands, compared to how their schedule looked like one or two decades ago. But they are also re-enjoying life as it is, with fresh air in the morning, with telling stories to their grandsons, with having tea with friends and real-time gossiping. In fact, they are a fickle audience when it comes to social media, because they might just be wiser and more real in their options than the younger adults are.

Welcoming them on social media could mean embedding extra options into the already-existing apps. Or, yet again, it may translate into a lot of fuss, market studies, extra apps or customized apps. Which one do you think it would be the best?

 

Market enlargement done right

Yes, there are audience segments that could use some extra attention and custom-tailored options.

Yes, by stimulating these people to be more active on social media, the specific market would most likely increase its dynamism and in fact would stand an “enlargement” process.

But adding extra apps in the already crowded digital landscape is counter-intuitive. Competitors have to stand together in the same niche, yet two and more apps from the same brand, due to, well, different targeting, is just too much.

Supplementary fragmentation leads to annoyance and confusion. Friends, business contacts, family and peers would be ultimately spread out among an indefinite number of social media applications, randomly open and shut, each one beaconing their notifications, each one difficult to configure, mute and so on.

Why not put users in control – for real? Allow the existing apps to be refined in a way that would meet specific needs. Kids – load preset configuration number 1! Elderly – load and customize preset configuration number 3!

Wonder if that is actually technically possible – but what isn’t, nowadays?

 

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Where does “organic” stop and “sponsored” come in – a short Canvy Team review

As you may already be aware, Mozilla switched back to Google as the default search engine for Firefox in in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The news implies that Google paid quite a considerable amount of money for this move, but it does not mention the exact value, since the “Google spokeswoman… declined to comment further”.

This is an example of how the things we take for granted when using digital tools are in fact mere results of deals, negotiations and big investments. So, what else is new, right? Not new, but rather the result of dwelling on the same idea: our satisfaction or annoyance related to all things tech-related is in fact attributable to such large scale moves. Of course, customers have their own options to make, but we only choose from the available “spread” – and what makes some variants available or not is in the hands of leading-edge tech companies, based on analytics and market considerations.

 

Organic versus sponsored/paid

The digital data we are exposed to is organic, unless labeled otherwise. However, even this commonly considered organic data may in fact have had to go through various funnels and the selection or boosting systems before reaching the average user, which makes it only partially organic.

To come back to the above news, when we employ a certain search engine, we take on all its predetermined terms and conditions. True, we get a lot of valuable free access to information, as well as other perks, in exchange for this. But those who are trying to reach us as users have to abide by the rules and conditions of the search engine – and sometimes their information fails to reach us. We don’t choose from a pool of infinite data, we only select from a bunch of preselected one. With all the AI algorithms, the selection itself got modified, to an extend that in fact it is not us who makes the choice, but an average individual located roughly in the same area as us, having approximately the same age, gender, preoccupations and so on.

Organic search results therefore are a myth. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the data labeled as promoted, paid for, sponsored etc. It’s the upfront marketing data, placed in an area where the smaller players in various fields compete for the attention of the oh-so-powerful-yet-many-times-unaware-of-its-importance-and-value, the (potential) customer.

 

Getting more comfortable in our role

As a formerly living in a rural area person who moved to the city becomes used to the point of being dependent to the modern urban commodities, the mighty world wide web users become more and more attached to great visuals, efficient services, fast query results and brand relevance. We have stopped questioning the “results” long ago – are they organic or are they paid for? The degree of gullibility just showed its amplitude in the fake news issue.

Is this a good or bad thing? Perhaps it isn’t even a duality question. However, it is a common sense principle that one shouldn’t completely rely on something barely understood. Right, but we do need everything digital every day, more and more – it’s a mass thing.

Even though we keep on using all the wonderful digital tools, both software and hardware included, being inquisitive and aware is a must. Let’s not get so comfortable, lest it will act against our own good.

Consider this: you go out and have a great meal with your friends, somewhere locally. You come back home and you search for the place online, eager to recommend it to someone. You forgot the name. It’s not the type of place that’s word of the mouth. You type, let’s say “pub great ribs wide variety beer”. And the results don’t point to the exact place you’re having in mind. Yet they do have a web page, and they have presented their offer properly on that page. What is going on? The entire labyrinth of moderated search is put in motion, but this specific business cannot reach you – it got lost somewhere in its entrails.

 

The bottom line

As a business, learn how to master the mechanisms that allow you to be visible to your audience and reach out to them.

As a customer/user never forget that often the digital environment serves you the most optimized results, not the organic results per se, nor necessarily what you really had in mind when you hit enter, or what is best suited for you, as a unique individual. Keep searching – combine offline with online and whenever needed, make your voice heard. Customer feedback matters even in cold, mathematical algorithms, and will count in decision making. We are still shaping the world as humans, we just have to be more on the ball as before.