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Mark McMaster - Senior Planner of Technology/B2B Markets, Google
Chris Golec - Founder and CEO, Demandbase
With some special guests:
Danny Sullivan - Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Land
Rand Fishkin - CEO and founder of SEOmoz.org
After an intro from Enquiro's Bill Barnes, Gord started out with his thoughts on the rise and concept of digital natives and digital immigrants. He discussed how the brain is made up of neurons and synapses and how the synapes get stronger as they fire. The ones that we don't use actually get pruned away. Over time, the brains capabilities increase in certain areas and decrease in others. We basically allocate our resourcves where they are going to do the most good... this can be referred to as learning. He discussed how our brains become plastic. There are two periods when the brain undergoes massive transformation: at the age of two and in the teenage years.Gord went on to discuss how we adopt technology. He noted that the adoption rate between TV and the Internet is actually pretty close. It's safe to say however, that the rapid shift in technology that we are experiencing and adoption of this technology is different with digital natives and digital immigrants. 1960 was the first generation that grew up with TV. TV has had a dramatic effect on social activity of society... we're spending less time with each other.
Danny and Rand started out by discussing the type of technology that they grew up with. From LPs, cassettes and CDs to early video game consoles and betamax. Danny talked about how his kids are growing up with the Internet. He started out by commenting on how nothing seemed amazing to them citing an example of a disposable camera where his kids assumed that they would be able to see the photographs instantly and had no concept of a traditional camera (as opposed to the digital cameras that we all have today).
Gord added that everyone should check out this Everything's Amazing video clip on YouTube about how this generation does not find anything amazing.
Rand added his thoughts suggesting that technology is amazing so there are some digital natives that do find technology interesting and at times remarkable. The Microsoft Surface demo was another example that he mentioned.
Gord asked Rand and Danny about social networks and about the different level of engagement with digital natives vs. digital immigrants. Danny noted that there is a second wave of users on Facebook who are still getting used to it (Facebook and social networking in general) in some ways.
Gord posed the question as to whether we are going to lose some of our face to face communication skills as a result of the digital native and popularity on digital social networking. Danny replied that the personal connection may be going away. He noted that there appears to be a loss of common sense with some. Rand added that the breadth of connections are different now. It is very easy to connect with people. However he referred to this as "shallow connections". With digital natives he mentioned something that is fascinating is the degree at which it is ok to put everything out there (in social network and in the digital space) about yourself. Could there be a security risk or is this something that is more prevalent with digital immigrants vs. digital natives?
Gord then went on to discuss what the rise of the digital natives means for B2B. Enquiro's research looked at the hours spent weekly
Ben Hanna from Business.com discussed the fact that digital natives are spending much more time with social networking, micro-blogging etc. Their contrast is much bigger on the professional side. When marketing to digital natives, you cannot use traditional marketing tactics. You need to pay attention to things such as Twitter and blogging to intercept this audience. You need to participate in these environments to nurture these relationships as these channels are changing. We're starting to see certain adoptions of social media in B2B where it has not been seen before.
Chris Golec from Demandbase talked about the idea of simplicity of the user experience. From a B2B implications perspective, the tools need to be made easier to use so that they can be easily adopted. Today people expect immediate results and benefits when they use a product, whether it is a free trial or demo. Google, Twitter and a number of new technologies provide these immediate results and immediate benefit.
Do we need to have a marketing strategy for digital immigrants and digital natives? It depends on your target audience. If you have a broader audience, you might have to create a more encompassing strategy to intercept both digital natives and digital immigrants.
Other channels are rising up and channels such as newspapers are losing the battle. However, with the Web becoming an increasingly popular channel this brings up the issues of finding accurate information online.
There was mention of how teachers tend to be digital immigrants and how the students are digital natives. The same teaching approaches will not work anymore. The same may hold true for business in the future.
I posed the question as to whether digital natives are less brand loyal. If so how will we market to them in the future? Ben Hanna replied that this will become increasingly difficult. It may depend on the channel or channels being used until the brands can figure out having a broad presence out there.
Chris added that the natives will be relying on social networks to find their information. Gord added that brands may be becoming relevant in a different way. The ways we build these brands will become different. The marketer needs to understand this shift in brand landscape. The customer is now starting to own the brand. Marketers need to participate in this conversation. Rand mentioned that digital immigrant is thinking what did consumer reports say about this brand, a digital native will say what is being said about this brand on Twitter? The split makes brands more responsible to their consumers and their users and how the brands are perceived. Danny summarized that he is inclined to write a blog post as opposed to Yelp perhaps implying that a digital native may go directly to Yelp. Brands are important and will continue to be important. The fact is that the trust of these brands has to be there. Brands need to be extended in ways that you might not of thought of or leveraged before.