20-Somethings to Reveal How They Use Social, Mobile in Everday Life at SoMoConf

Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, returns to blog on the Local Search Insider.  He is ranked in the top 2% among Gerson Lehrman Group’s 150,000 consultants worldwide and is quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Ad Age, Forbes and other publications. He has appeared on CNN and other TV and radio programs discussing trends and forecasts for local media.

There’s one session I’m REALLY looking forward to at the Social + Mobile Conference later this month.  I’ve prepped quite a few of the speakers, including big names from Google, Facebook, Wildfire, comScore, and elsewhere.

But what I really want to hear is what young adults think. I have two 20-something daughters.  Neither touches a phone book, newspaper, radio dial or TV remote control.  For my 30-year-old daughter, her entire media life is on her Macbook Air.  For my 24-year-old, it’s a smartphone.

Do they really care about us? Are social “sites” important to them, or do they just rely on information that comes to them (via email or text) from those sites? Do smartphones, and tablets influence their buying decisions? What are their favorite apps, and (brace yourself) do they ever watch live TV, read a newspaper, listen to FM radio, or crack open a yellow pages book?

“I think a lot of things are being consumed outside of the digital media space by young adults,” said Terry Kukle, Metroland Media Group’s vice president of business development.   “They’re certainly digitally savvy, but I also think they might be more multimedia than we think.”

Kukle will moderate the panel entitled, “What Those 20-Somethings Can Tell Us.” Check out the agenda here.  A group of young adults will join him on stage to set the record straight.

I recall watching a media guru from The New York Times Co. tackling the same topic a few years ago at another conference.  He showed videos of young people discussing how they use media.  It was shocking and scary to think that these would be the people running companies or making household buying decisions within the next two decades.  One by one, they described how everything they needed – everything – was right there in some form of digital media.  The session ended with one young lady on a sofa, patting her laptop, saying, “This is my best friend.  My whole life is in here.  Everything.  If it got stolen or just disappeared, gosh, I think I’d die.”

Will they change their habits when they settle down?  Will they mimic their parents’ media consumption habits?   The children of the 1960s – the “television generation” – didn’t.  They didn’t subscribe to newspapers at the same rate as their parents when they reached their 30s, 40s and 50s in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.  That’s one reason newspaper circulation – and advertising fell so precipitously over the past decade.  The “valuable” audience – those with higher disposable incomes – weren’t subscribers as much as they were in the past.

I suspect that what these youngsters have to say will hold some important clues to the future – and may unlock some big opportunities in social media, which seems to enamor them so much.

Hope to see you there!  For more info on the conference, click here.

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