We were lucky enough to attend this years YMS. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, the acronym stands for Youth Marketing Strategy. Hosted by Voxburner, YMS crams two days with talks from some of the worlds biggest brands and some of the most knowledgeable pros in the game. As if this wasn’t enough, you’ve got rooms packed with exhibition stands, free food and sofa-filled networking areas – it’s a digital marketer’s dream.

 

YMS 17

This blog post could easily be a full novel if we had the time to include everything we loved about YMS, but alas, we do not. With that in mind, we’ll hit you with the highlights, two talks in particular and a few nuggets from others. Before we get into the serious stuff however, this was definitely a highlight.

Onto the nuggets we mentioned. As Instagram addicts, it was a little surreal to watch the company’s 6th employee take to the stage to chat about the gram. During her brief but insightful talk she mentioned the rising use of Instagram Stories amongst brands, noting that getting creative with it is key. She used the example of clothing brands allowing people to tap for different views of the item shown to keep them engaged. In her own words, “stories are woven into the fabric of our lives”. An Instagram talk, however, wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the influx of live video on the platform. Live video is anything but a fad, and with an increasing number of brands and influencers alike adopting it every single day, it’s only set to grow. The example companies were, again, in the clothing business and found great success in offering behind the scenes content at things such as photoshoots.

BrewDog apparently allow employees to take a week off when they get a puppy. Not sure if that information will help you, but hey ho. We were also given a little reminder that authenticity will always go a long way and can never, ever, be faked. In fact, Kurt Cobain was once asked in an interview to reel off a list of the current ‘cool’ words. He made them all up. The magazine printed it. Everyone laughed. The moral of the story is, if you have to ask about it, that language probably doesn’t fit your brand. If it did, you’d already know it.

Time for the two talks that really stood out.

 

BAM – Are students all the same?

BAM pen themselves as student marketing experts, so if anyone’s in a place to answer this question, it’s them. They do an awful lot of insight into the student market, or as they prefer to call it, the youth market. After mentioning that they pride themselves on seeing interaction as the potential to gain a lifelong customer rather than simply short term profit, a view we should all be holding, they went onto explain the four pillars of value found within students.

The first is the fact that they’re early adopters. Students are experimental and independent, which explains the statistic that whilst 24% of them weren’t familiar with some large brand names, over half of those would choose to engage with the one of those unfamiliar brands regardless.

They harbour a community environment. Everything is self contained, they live in an echo chamber so to speak. This leads a message to spread faster and the impact of the message to be greater.

Their access to expendable cash. Last year, students spent £2bn on socialising, no surprise there hey? But they also spent the same figure on non-essentials.

They’re brand loyal. Once you’ve got them, you’ll find they’ve also got you. This pulls it all back to the goal of creating lifelong customers.

So now that you know just how valuable the student market is, where about are they? You’d be right in guessing social media is your best bet to get your brand in front of their eyes, but which platform? Well according to BAM, 81% of them are on Facebook every single day, so that’s going to be your best bet. It’s followed by Snapchat (with 56% daily usage) which is in turn closely followed by Instagram (54%). Go get ’em!

But the most interesting statistic was by far the fact that the majority of students prefer to receive brand promotions by email (47%) as apposed to social (sitting at a measly 25% in comparison). So if you’re targeting students, it might be time to brush the dust off of that mailing list!

The insightful talk BAM delivered was without a doubt one of the best parts of YMS 17, but you’ve probably already guessed what’s next.

 

Influencer Marketing – How to make sure it’s worth it

An influencer talk was inevitable at a Youth Marketing event in 2o17, and the panel at YMS certainly didn’t disappoint. To kick it off, everyone on the panel was asked to explain what influencer marketing meant to them. Whilst every answer was great in its own right, the best came from an ex-PR guy. He compared it to old fashioned PR tactics before delivering this fantastic quote – “It’s based around knowing who’s got a voice in a community and working with them to tell a story”.

Despite the surge in influencer marketing that we saw in 2016 and even more so in the opening months of 2017, members of the panel echoed our thoughts when they proclaimed that a vast amount of brands all over the world still aren’t dabbling in it yet.

One concern voiced by the panel was the sheer amount of time consumed by influencer marketing efforts. It was argued that tech can help speed up the process by finding processes that can be completed automatically and completing them automatically. But whilst data can give you a glimpse behind the vanity numbers, should you really be trusting your computer to make your marketing decisions?

What is the message you’re trying to get across? What will have resonance with your audience? You can pay large sums of money to a celebrity for a huge amount of reach, but something that’s relevant both for the brand and the community of the influencer will have far more benefit for both parties. As the panel stated, having credibility which you can measure with engagement will always be much more important than reach.

However, without a doubt the most interesting thing discussed was a point made by the CEO of ViralNation and chair of the panel. The point that brands need to lock down influencers in the same way that they would with athletes, as long term ambassadors. He proclaimed that often or not brands will splash out millions on an athlete, and whilst they may have large follower counts, the engagement never tends to be there. A long term relationship with a creative influencer who understands your brand and has an authentic passion for it will provide way more value. If you find the right influencer, often or not you can let them go to do what they want and you’ll always be met with amazing content.

 

To conclude, you’ll definitely see us at YMS 18. What a fantastic event filled with fantastic people.

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