Busting Millennial Myths Around Social Media and Technology

As a digital anthropologist, I research, mostly for marketing departments and agencies, how people behave within social media and with technology as a whole. Millennials are a hot topic. Many a brand spends inordinate amounts of time and money to target the Millennial. They think they’ve got them profiled, sorted and thoroughly understood and that they’re some kind of magical money mine. They aren’t. They’re also not really a demographic and can’t truly be marketed too as one.

How Millennials Are Using Social Media
In the past year I’ve completed over 15 different analysis of Millennials behaviours and activities in social media in the U.S., Canada and UK for CPG and financial services companies. So what did we learn? 

  • They aren’t a “lump demographic”, they’re within an age bracket, but there are no specifics, just generalizations.
  • Over 87% of Millennials prefer social media apps that are less public; they dislike the marketing messages in more open apps like Facebook.
  • 59% of Millennials in our research indicate they mistrust over 90% of the news they get in their social media feeds.
  • When it comes to personal information, contrary to general assumptions, over 62% don’t like to share personal details outside a closed group.
  • Those aged 18-24 are more likely to be skeptical of unknown people attempting to be friends in apps like Snap or WhatsApp. But see Facebook and Instagram as more “open” platforms while sharing less information publicly.
  • Over 76% of those aged 18-35 say a primary part of choosing a new app is that it has the ability to have private messaging.
  • Over 56% of those aged 18-35 dislike the term “Millennial” and find it a derogatory term.

This is based on an overall sample size of n=75,000 individuals conversing about how they use social media in their channels in the US, UK and Canada between January and November 2016.

Millennials and Technology
While the media images of “Millennials" have them almost always face-in-smartphone, the relationship those in their 20’s and early 30’s have with technology is quite different from what one might expect.

  • Home automation tools like Amazon Echo or Nest aren’t really that interesting to them; largely because they don’t own houses and are highly urbanized and very much into “buying local” and a more social approach to shopping that is physical. Those aged 18-35 rarely have a house and don’t have as much disposable income either.
  • They’re 60% more likely to buy small commodity items on a mobile than via a laptop/dekstop or some home automation device.
  • Only about 12% of Millennials have an interest in wearables and tracking their fitness.
  • Just over 43% of those aged 18-35 say they don’t look for apps outside those pre-installed on the device they buy (i.e. the Mail app on iPhone or Outlook on Windows.)
  • 48% say they are looking to reduce the amount of technology in their daily lives.

We have a lot more data and insights than what we’re delivering here. But we think these are some pretty big insights. Millennials don’t like being called that and really, marketing to a specific demographic is a bit like trying to do a  direct mail campaign to unicorns.

What marketing departments tend to miss is that those aged 18-35 don’t have a lot of disposable income and in fact, have less disposable income today than their parents did at the same age.

Across many global consumer brands, we see this odd desire to leap on the bandwagon to market to “Millennials”, which is fine if you have a lower price point product. But price elasticity in the 18-35 group is much tighter. There are also significant economic disparities between those aged 18-25 (who have minimal disposable income and are in an entirely different life phase) and those 25-35, even those 30+ are very different in life stage.

Stay tuned for some further insights into how those aged 18-35 choose products and view brand loyalties.

Don't Mess With The Stuffing

The Holiday season is rapidly approaching in Canada and people are planning their Christmas dinners. Turkey is always a feature. So, as we were doing some research into Canadian food habits for a client, we of course came across some interesting data (unrelated to our client project, of course) and that has to do with stuffing.

No Bones About It
Our research showed some interesting things about Canadians when it comes to the stuffing they use in their turkeys and make no bones about it, stuffing is a sacred food!

We analysed conversations in social media about Christmas dinners by both men and women across the country. The age demographic was 25-45, 60% female and 40% male. Sample size was n=20,000 (this is Big Data for Big Dinners.)

So what did we find?

  • 31% maintain they use a “family recipe” from a matriarch, passed down by two generations on average.
  • 24% say apples should never be used in a stuffing
  • 11% believe you shouldn’t put cranberries in a stuffing
  • 12% maintain no garlic and go light on the onions
  • 43% said stale white bread cut into chunks is the best
  • 53% said stuffing is the most important part of the turkey and that they never try new stuffing recipes...

So, what do you make of that? If you celebrate Christmas, do you use an old tried and true family recipe? Do you like to shake it up a bit?

Why Competitors Rush to be the Same

It’s a rather odd thing. Company B comes along and wants to eat Company A’s lunch as a competitor. Then comes along Company C and so on. But the odd thing is that they all try to look like one another despite the business logic that says that you need to differentiate yourself from your competitor. Similar tag lines, similar marketing messages and maybe a line here or there that fails miserably at why Company B is different from Company A. 

So we used some Big Data analysis and applied some behavioural economic theories to see why this might be happening.

Confirmation Bias in Differentiator Denial
As humans, we like to seek information that confirms our view, rather than contradicts it. A great example is social media and the recent US election; people used memes and messages that met with their political views.

When we looked at 400 brands in the financial sector and 100 in the real estate sector we found that 78% shared similar use of logo designs, website design, social media messaging and marketing slogans. What we might say about this is that brands tend to look towards their competitors for marketing and branding styles versus their markets needs. Could it be that marketers or perhaps CEO’s seek comfort in similarity rather than the risk of looking too different even though that may improve sales?

Backfire Bias
This where we tend to reject evidence that contradicts our own views. When we looked at the personal financial planning market for instance, we found this to be true in branding messages. It was similar in the insurance sector. Over 90% of the 900 brands we looked at in each sector used the same messaging as their competitors if with slightly different words. Even though in business schools differentiation is a core part of marketing teaching, these brands didn’t offer any significant differentiation points in their brand. Are brands subconsciously applying a bias to their brand design and messaging considerations?

Brand Category Relativity Bias
As consumers, we tend to judge things relative to something else rather than make difficult comparative choices. So I’ve some up with a term I call “Brand Relativity Bias” as bias plays a role in our decision making.  Combining the above two data points, one could consider that brands end up making a subconscious play to seem similar to others to fit in a category? A marketer or brand strategist may think this helps the consumer, but in many cases it may not.

Certain brand elements are necessary in a category or industry but looking too much like a competitor makes it harder for consumers to make a choice. So that choice relies more heavily on the personal relationship, especially in the financial sector.

We collected data on 10,000 brands across Canada and the United States (in English) and then using Big Data analytics broke them into industries based on those with tag lines and definable words in the brand name (i.e. insurance, wealth, financial, computer) and tagged brand names into categories where they were known. Then applied some regression analysis and sentiment analysis. This is the quick explanation of the model and approach.

So what do you think? Are brands seeking a “comfort zone” amongst each other rather than differentiating for the customer?

The Canteen Exceeds Fundraising Goal by Over $35,000

Last month, The Well supported a major announcement for Dartmouth’s famous local eatery, The Canteen. As a bustling neighbourhood hotspot in downtown Dartmouth, The Canteen has grown significantly since its launch two and a half years ago, quickly establishing a reputation as the go-to spot for chef-inspired sandwiches, salads and take-home meals.

Looking for support to announce a relocation and re-launch, enabling The Canteen to continue its growth, owner and head chef Renée Lavallée, along with her partner, Doug Townsend, came to The Well. Despite having years of marketing experience under his belt and having much of the relocation campaign covered, Townsend was faced with limited time and resources and required additional support in areas outside of his circle of expertise. This is where we came in.

“Time is a premium, and with the Well, I knew I could find experienced professionals that were already vetted,” Townsend explains. “The cost was also very reasonable, without hidden fees and overheads…I knew exactly what I was paying for.”

With The Well’s support, The Canteen announced it’s upcoming relocation and launched its associated crowd funding campaign on October 13, with huge success. Hitting all the marks in terms of media coverage, The Canteen’s crowd funding target of $30,000 was reached within just four days. In the end, the campaign netted out at $65,664 – more than double its initial target.

“Now I know that I can go to The Well, find the right person for the job, and turn a project around within a few days,” says Townsend, who also notes that working with The Well was an accessible and efficient option for a small business like The Canteen.

We look forward to visiting The Canteen’s new location in Downtown Dartmouth this coming winter.


Top 5 Reasons we Hate Stories With Lists (HINT: #3 will shock you!)

LinkedIn. It’s a place ripe with interesting content, unique perspectives, fun tips, simple how-to’s and much more. But is it just me? Or is “List-bait” now reaching epidemic proportions? You know what I’m talking about. Lists that suck you in with a tantalizing headline. Like “Top 5 Reasons to Quit Your Job” or “Four Ways to Make your Work Life better”. Or my personal favorite, headlines that prey on our nosy nature like “Six steps to Success… and You Won’t Believe what Number One Is!”

I admit it. I’ve read them all. But now I’m putting a stake in the ground. I’m “listed” out. I’ve got room in my life for many things, but not more lists. So before I close this chapter forever, here’s one final list for the books.

Top Five Reasons we Hate Stories with Lists

1. We’re all Suffering from List-fatigue. Lists are everywhere. My newsfeed is jammed with them. They’re like a biblical plague. Somewhere between swarming locusts and frogs falling from the sky. And after a while, they all sound the same.  Quite frankly, I want to put my fist in your list. Is that rude?! If so, I’m okay with that. I’m here to make a stand. Not new friends.

2. Lists are Lazy. Hmmm. Can’t think of five bullet points that prove your perspective or demonstrate your expertise? That’s okay! Just come up with as many (or few) as you can and absolutely nobody cares. There are no points deducted if you can only muster up four. That’s the beauty of a world marred in free content. You always get what you paid for.

3. Lists are Too Simplistic. Here’s a thought. Let’s take a really complex problem… like why you live with too many cats, for example, and create a simple list that can solve that problem both for you and the world. Oh, and in four bullets or less. Trust me. Your life can’t be changed in so few characters. I’ve seen that hoarders show on A&E with the cat-loving crazies. If you’re one of them, you probably don’t need a list. You need an intervention.

4. Lists are Predictable. That’s right. I said it. Predictable. Why have a nice meal when you can have four or five bite-sized appetizers? That’s what lists are. They’re the crackers and cheese of the writing world. Completely predictable and a great way to take the edge off while you’re waiting for something meatier.

5. Lists don’t always make sense. Remember when I said that lists were predictable? Well they aren’t always. If you recall, I also said lists are lazy. So since I can’t think of five points, I’m sticking with four. So my fifth point is really not a point at all. It’s just a silent protest against all other lists.

 So there you have it. My “boeuf du jour” about lists. So tell me, what do you think about lists? Love it? Or list it?

 Article Author - Mike Maloney

When to Use Seasonal Keywords in Social Media Content

Seasons change. Much as we Canadians love our summer frivolities, we seem to also enjoy talking about the next change of seasons. As we looked through some of the data we collected from social media for our market research, we noted an increase in certain keywords on a seasonal basis. So we used text analytics to correlate keywords that reflected seasonal change with the times of the year when we start to see seasonal change. Why? Because this can help your content planning for site optimization and contextual relevance. This data also applies to northern US states.

The Shoulder Months
There are seasonal shoulder months that are ripe for certain keywords. August signals in Canadians that fall is approaching. November triggers winter and April triggers spring. Yes, marketers know the seasonal change and ramp ad campaigns accordingly. But it’s also important for your content strategy in social media channels. The key is when.

When To Leverage Seasonal Keywords
Timing, as they say, is everything. So it is with seasonal keywords. Too early and consumers just aren’t ready for it and you may reduce click opportunities. When we looked at our data, this is the story it told us;

Spring: Start the last week in march and early April. While it’s tempting to start in early March, unlike other shoulder months, March is still winter in most of Canada (except B.C. for the most part) and people are oddly cranky. Spring words see an increase in social media of 12% in late March and 87% in early April.

Summer: Late may into first two weeks of June. This is the height of time when consumers start planning summer activities. The weather has warmed enough and we’re in the mindset for cool drinks and summer foods. Summer words see an increase of 19% in late May and 67% in early June.

Autumn: The end of August, the last week, is when we see the spike in interest of all things autumnal. Words like pumpkin or cinnamon become popular. Don’t start mid-August though, stay on the summer theme. In August we see a 22% increase in the word pumpkin and 43% in early September in social media.

Winter: In Canada and the northern U.S. this is an odd one. Early winter social media trigger words are deeply tied to Christmas. In the U.S. Thanksgiving is a trigger to winter preparations. We see winter/Christmas related words start to increase by 19% in early November and by 77% in early December.

So there it is, some insights to help you plan your content strategy. When we analyse social media, it’s the digital version of “people watching” and we look at behaviours and trends. We hope this helped you a little today.

We post on Facebook as well here and you can follow Well Researched on Twitter

Any thoughts you’d like to share?

Social Media Monitoring Apps: The Good and the Bad.

There are over 1,000 different social media monitoring tools in the market today. From the low end of around $100 a month all the way up to $5000+. Most, if not all, major brands use them. They have nice graphs. Some are reasonably good with sentiment analysis. But having built a social media monitoring tool (for the global risk analysis market) and worked with many of them since 2009, there are some limitations and upsides.

The Downsides

Surface Capture Only
All social media monitoring tools are really designed for surface skimming of social media, not deep, complex dives and analysis. For this, most are quite good. But a lot can be missed.

Data and Channel Limitations
As the saying goes “you get what you pay for” and in the case of social media monitoring tools, you’re paying for data. All social media monitoring tools buy data from one of two sources; DataSift or Gnip. Some buy piecemeal from other providers. You’re buying based on keywords, hashtags and in some cases phrases. Some apps offer more social media channels than others. Again, it all depends on what you want to pay.

Analytics Limitations
Since the first social media monitoring tools popped onto the scene in 2008, surprisingly little has been done in evolving the analytics. Each tool has varying degrees of good visuals and UX design. Sentiment analysis has improved, but not by much. The analytics are good for basic insights and keeping up with the flow of the conversation around your brand, but that’s about it.

Large Enterprises Use Multiple Monitoring Tools
We’ve worked with several companies to help them select the ideal social media monitoring tool for their organisation. We’ve found over the years that larger companies with the budget, will use between 2-4 social media monitoring tools to achieve their desired level of analysis. That’s hard for smaller organisations.

There’s No Deep Dive Capabilities
Despite some claiming this, we’ve yet to find a social media monitoring tool that actually does deep dives. Few can go back historically than a few months and trend analysis is always poor. Each is limited in the channels they can delve into, meaning important things might be missed. The analytics tools they use are also based on using their compute capabilities at source; meaning your sharing processing power. They’re also restricted to social media channels, but there’s a lot more content out there to be leveraged for analysis.

The Upsides

Keeping Up With The Flow
Social media monitoring tools are just that “monitoring tools” and they are very good at being in the “now” and “recent now” of the constant flow of social media content. You can keep up with the daily pulse.

Competitor Insights
Most of these social media monitoring tools enable you to keep an eye on competitors. This is good for spotting their weaknesses or leveraging a crisis to your advantage.

Most apps today offer decent metrics to help as part of your overall performance measurement on marketing budgets.

Emerging Trends
These tools can quickly spot emerging trends such as memes and enable your creative and content teams to move quickly to leverage them.

In Summary
Social media monitoring tools are a key part of the marketing automation suite. But they shouldn’t be used to make strategic and planning decisions. They are very much in the now and near-now world of active marketing and help with customer service and brand engagement. They are not digital research tools and when used as such can lead to misinterpretations that can cost your budget big time. We’ve seen this happen a few times.

If you’re in the market for some deep digital research, we can help. If you’re looking to find a new social media monitoring tool, we can help as well. We’re unbiased, so we’re working on your side.


What Retailers Can Learn From Restaurants

Using Big Data analytics to analyse social media conversations often shows some interesting insights. This happened when we compared retailer marketing messages with restaurant marketing messages and how consumers talk online about both. The critical difference? One word: experience. This is important as retailers find in-store sales slumping while restaurants, bars and the like are finding an increase in sales. In the UK in 2015, restaurant visits were up 11% over retail store visits. Similar results are being seen in Canada and America.

The Experience Is The Product
Pictures of delicious, colourful food along with some choice words evoke some powerful emotions in people. Restaurants market an experience. That experience entails not just the ambiance of the location, but the taste of the food, presentation, service and being there with people we want to spend time with (hopefully.) The product is the experience. In retail stores, the experience has largely gone away. The product is what hangs on the rack.

The Retail Marketing Message
Many retailers do aim to market an “experience”, most notably with fashion. Yet our research found that 43% of Canadian women find retail shopping to be boring when by themselves and 37% to be boring when with a friend or two. The highlight of their shopping experience, they say in social media, is having a snack or beverage break. Retailers focus heavily on pricing and the physical product they want to sell.

The Restaurant Message
When it comes to leveraging social media, restaurants are very good at communicating an experience. Images of food, connected with an eating establishment indicate social interaction. Retailers it would seem, don’t convey this message.

The Retail Store Un-Experience
The data also showed that only 18% of Canadian women and 14% of Canadian men, enjoy a retail store experience. The primary reason was customer service, followed by uninspired interior design. 64% of shoppers find aisles too crowded and stores messy. 19% of women find the music too loud. We have more insights coming in our October edition of the Big Data Consumer Omnibus.

Retailers Should Visit Restaurants
If retailers are looking for inspirations to boost sales, perhaps a visit to a few trendy restaurants would be in order? Retailers should look at how restaurants are creating their messages in social media. Cross promotions could also be an option. Canadian consumers are looking for an “experience” when they’re out buying. Right now it seems, they aren’t finding that experience. 

What do you think? Are you a retailer?

Are Canadians Growing Bored of Social Media?

We’re an intensely curious bunch at Well Researched and we’re constantly collecting and analyzing what consumers are discussing online for digital market research. Looking back at some data we’ve collected over the past year and a bit as we were working on another project, we noted a shift with Canadians and their social media habits. So we asked the data…are Canadians bored with social media?

As with any question like this, the answer is yes and no. Maybe even “bored” isn’t the right word. In our recently released Consumer Big Data Omnibus we showed how consumers are changing what they share. Turns out, how they’re engaging is changing as well.

What’s Happening With Canadians and Social Media?
Based on our findings, it appears that Canadians are in part fatigued and in part changing the nature of many of their conversation styles. The chart below shows the five main issues we uncovered about Canadians views on social media. Perhaps not entirely surprising.



Global News
About 29% of Canadians find global news to be either stressful or depressing. It’s not stopping them from discussing what’s going on, but many indicate they either adjust their filters to dampen it down or avoid social media feeds where they see a lot of the news they don’t like.

US Election - Stressed and Tired
Canadians are largely fascinated and highly opinionated on the U.S. elections underway. It’s also a major reason people are dampening their social feeds for the elections. Most cite fatigue with the constant barrage and some say the thought of Trump as president scares them. 

Advertising Formats
Around 19% claim they’re frustrated with how advertising is being presented to them in major social media channels such as Facebook and news channels and that they often find the ads either irrelevant or increasingly intrusive in their objective to getting to the content. This is especially so with mobile usage. Secondly they cite a lack of creativity in the advertising, especially with regard to YouTube videos. Creatives and advertisers should be aware, it’s driving Canadian consumers to more private channels such as Messenger and SnapChat.

Trolls & Negativity
16% of Canadians say they’re tired of the trolls and so much negativity in social media. Overall, this frustration with ongoing negativity has increased 54% over 2015 and we’re just half-way through 2016. Of the sample size analysed 73% felt that the trolls were winning online. We anticipate this issue to increase, it will be covered in the second edition of our Canadian Consumer Big Data Omnibus in October of this year. If this issue continues to grow, the only worthwhile advertising may be for weapons and things that make angry people happy.

Lack of Interesting Content
This 12% plays somewhat into the advertising formats issue. Canadian consumers find a lot of repetition in content and finding a lot of content to be poorly written and the same across many channels and sites. Lack of creative in YouTube adverts and videos pushed across news and social media channels was also cited. Content marketers…time to step up the game. Creative directors, can you get your clients to stop being boring?

So are Canadians bored with social media? Overall, we’d say no, but they are in what we would call a “Transition Phase” in terms of how they use social media overall. Issues of trolls and negative content beg the question of how responsible should companies like Twitter, Facebook or SnapChat be for people’s behaviour? They certainly can’t change the state of global affairs.

What are your thoughts?

Tony Salloum Joins The Well Creative Consultants as New Territory Manager for Toronto

The Well is pleased to announce that Tony Salloum has joined the growing Well team as Territory Manager for Toronto. Tony comes to The Well from his previous role as Growth Champion for Famous Folks, where he spearheaded new business development. Since entering the Toronto market six months ago, the Well has grown exponentially, assembling more than 117 hand-picked strategic, creative and business consultants under it’s banner and securing hundreds of projects both regional and national.

"Making the change from a traditional agency environment to The Well wasn't one to make lightly," says Tony Salloum, Territory Manager for The Well - Toronto. "But after seeing the care taken to listen and answer the needs of the market, it's clear to me that the tailored, hand-picked approach taken by The Well is the future of creative, marketing and advertising services."

Created specifically to answer the market call for better access to top professionals, The Well is a collection of hand-picked talent under a unique national marketplace model that benefits both the clients and talents equally. Fluid and dynamic, the Well model gives clients access to top-tier marketing expertise tailored to their individual goals, needs, geographies and budgets; all delivered a-la-carte menu-style.

Get to know Tony, and the plans he has for the Toronto Territory by contacting him at tony@gotothewell.ca

FinTech, Financial Sector & Dramatic Consumer Shifts

The finance sector around the world has been contending with consumer trust issues since the 2008 financial crisis. Now we’re seeing the rise of FinTech and it’s disrupting the financial sector. From RoboAdvisors to sophisticated online stock trading tools. Canadians have, for the most part, been very conservative in their adoption of new technologies and financial services. But as our recent Big Data Consumer Omnibus research has shown, this is changing. How?

In Algorithms We Trust?
An interesting insight from our omnibus was how the over 40 demographic is beginning to trust RoboAdvisors which are, essentially, algorithms that automate financial planning and investment strategies. In Canada, the Royal Bank is the first of the majors to roll out a RoboAdvisor. There is also WealthBar of British Columbia. Others are starting to emerge. In just one quarter, trust by the over 40 group in RoboAdvisors increased 33% in Canada.

Shifts in Investment Approaches
Traditionally, Canadians have mostly relied on a financial planner or a planner from their bank to manage their investments. Several years ago, some consumers started self-directing their RRSP’s. This is increasing. Canadians are shifting away from financial planners and banks to using third-party tools. Less and less are relying on Certified Financial Planners. Interestingly, social media are playing a role here as well. If banks and wealth management firms think they’re safe with the 50+ crowd, that could be a costly assumption. The fastest growing segment of social media adoption is the 55+ bracket.

What Does This Mean?
We explore the insights and meaning in more detail in our Big Data Consumer Omnibus. As a summary, banks and wealth management firms along with insurance companies, may be surprised at how rapidly Canadians are now shifting to digital services and disruptors entering the space. Larger firms will need to be increasingly aware of FinTech startups in Canada and those entering the Canadian market. Now is the time for anti-disruption planning. Consumers are moving much faster than larger financial institutions. Our research backs this up.

A Special Section on the Canadian Financial Sector

In the initial edition of the Big Data Omnibus of Canadian consumers, we have a special section dedicated to the financial sector. You can purchase a copy here: Well Researched

Are you a banker or CFP? What are your thoughts?

How Canadian & U.S. Consumers Differ Online

In our recently released Big Data consumer omnibus using social media analysis around Canadian consumer habits and actions, we noticed that Canadians behave differently in some ways than Americans. Why does this matter? Most Canadian marketers rely on American market research to understand the Canadian digital consumer. Largely because there really isn’t much in the way of Canadian research. Until now.

In building our Big Data Omnibus, we uncovered some interesting differences between Canadian and American consumers when it comes to technology adoption and online shopping behaviours. While we can’t share all the insights, here’s some key insights to get the brain thinking.

Product Research | Canadians vs. Americans
We found that Canadians tend to spend 2-3x longer conducting product research online than Americans. Price is not always the key factor either. 63% of Canadians look at warranties and support for technology products and electronics. Canadians are more likely than Americans to check out YouTube videos with reviews and unboxing. But they also check repair and maintenance videos on bigger ticket items like fridges and stoves.

Talking to Friends About Purchases
Canadians tend to be a little less chatty with friends in social media when considering certain purchases. Americans are more likely to take pictures and share intended purchases with a wider group of people, whereas Canadians will limit their sharing with a very small circle of friends and often just family. When it comes to cars, Canadians keep mum, but appliances and smaller ticket items they’ll share more.

Heavy In Store Mobile Usage
Canadians are heavy users of a mobile phone in a retail store. They’ll seek out competitor prices and product reviews on small appliances, electronics and sometimes even groceries. Canadians prefer to use coupons and discounts served up on their mobile five times more than Americans. This is likely due to Canada’s different coupon laws.

Canadians are more product and price research intensive than Americans overall. We may attribute this to having a high penetration of smartphones, higher overall bandwidth access and less disposable income. In our analysis of Canadians talking about product purchases and looking at American comments, the thread of a more cautious approach rang true.

Find Out More
There’s a whole lot more insight in our Canadian Big Data Consumer Omnibus for anyone looking for that additional competitive edge. You should probably check it out before your competitors do.

The Huge Shift in Social Media Use & It's Impact on Brands

There’s a fundamental and big shift underway in how consumers are using social media. For marketers this will present a new set of challenges in how to engage their market. For the social networks it creates a challenge of how to enable marketers to reach that audience. None of these shifts spell a death spiral for the major social networks, but it could impact their value in the digital sphere.

The Shift From Open to Closed
Perhaps the fastest growing social media channel today is SnapChat. It started out largely as a youth-driven app. But as with Facebook and Twitter, an older demographic eventually slipped in. At Well Researched (a division of The Well), we estimate that the age range in SnapChat has gone from 90% under 25 to about 75% under 25.

Facebook is shifting emphasis to Messenger, bringing bots and AI into that channel. Apple is opening up iMessenger to developers. Instagram and Twitter are trying to reinvent their relevance, although Instagram is still powerful.

Consumers are drifting away from largely “open” social networks into tighter, more “controlled” networks that focus on more immediate social circles. That “connect with the whole world” rush of the early social media years is now over. Consumers complain of being bombarded with marketing messages, brands trying to connect but failing to be authentic. Then there’s all the trolls. And the depressing news of the world. Our view is that this has combined to a point that this shift is underway.

Old Social Networks Are New Again
Our research also found (in Canada at least) that there is a move by consumers to one of the oldest online social network formats - the forum. With Reddit leading the charge. There are many thousands of forums and they’ve been around since the early 1980’s in the form of Bulletin Boards then .alt newsgroups. This is where marketers have never really been able to penetrate and when they have, they’ve been resoundingly shut down.

Too Much Marketing Noise
As brands began to realize the power of engaging social media and that they had to, so began the roaring thunderstorm of marketing noise. At first, consumers welcomed brands. They felt engaged, that a brand “cared” and in large part it was an attempt by brands to change and engage. But brands rushed to create content. The noise became too much and consumers are retreating to where they feel brands are less present. 

Social Networks Become News Feeds
Facebook has received much criticism for it’s newsfeed. Google+ has struggled with displaying content streams. LinkedIn is suffering the Tragedy of the Commons where people are starting to share baby stories and pet pics and the value of the business content is declining.

A New Balance Will Be Needed
Facebook understands this shift very well, hence their focus on Messenger and WhatsApp. SnapChat is yet to truly figure out it’s monetization strategy, but then so is Twitter. Consumers may have thought brands would become something different in social media, but they didn’t. The message remains controlled, measured and inauthentic.

Maybe that’s just the way it is. A brand can never truly be one-to-one. It will always be one-to-many. Consumers know this. Social media engagement will need a rethink by marketers. For consumers, they’re talking with their pinkies. Content consumption is changing. Brands will need to find a new balance.

Social Media are not dead, not by a long shot, but a fundamental shift is underway. It’s starting. New apps may come along. Facebook may not fizzle like MySpace, but it will desperately need those emerging markets as developed markets shift the way they engage.

Our research backs this up. We will be releasing more insights in the coming weeks.

In the meantime…what do you think?

Article by Giles Crouch

'Go To The Well' for the Best in Event Management

It's been a productive couple of weeks for a few of The Well's event and communications talents - capping of very different events in Toronto and Halifax.

Last night, The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market delivered the first 'The Table' event to a sold out crowd. Working with The Well's Tracy Ashley and Laura Oakley to orchestrate and deliver this experience, ‘The Table’ is an intimate, cultural sharing experience through food and stories.

In what hopes to become a series, attendees of this first event were treated to a wonderful, traditional Latin American meal and stories prepared by local Chef Luis Cavel. Mr. Clavel was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in El Salvador and Guatemala before moving to Nova Scotia in his teens.


From the intimate setting of the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market to the world stage, Jill MacCannell has just wrapped up working with the Invictus Games as the media relations lead for Prince Harry's visit to Toronto on May 2nd. From site preparation and technical requirements to planning and pitching all communications and media - all eyes were on Jill when they weren't on Prince Harry.

As a part of the visit, Jill also managed all of the communications for the live sledge event with Prince Harry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mayor John Tory, the Canadian Sledge Hockey Team and hosts Cabbie Richards (TSN) and Melissa Grelo (CTV's The Social).

A bright kick-off to what is shaping up for a busy event season for 2016.

If you have an event you would like to discuss with Jill, Tracy, Laura or any of the other event managers in The Well - contact us at ping@gotothewell.ca

Our Phygital World and What This Means

Just what we need, another buzzword. Yet it is quite accurate as cyberspace (our digital world) continues to intertwine ever so deeply with our physical world. The rise of the smartphone has made that happen. Today, about 75% of our use of a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry) is not about making well, phone calls. We shop, look up products, find places to eat, schedule our lives and find directions. And take lots of pictures.

Phygital and The Internet of Things
Already, over 7 Billion devices from fridges and crockpots to smartphones, cars and thermostats are connected to the Internet. This is called the “Internet of Things” or “IoT” in tech parlance. Companies are increasingly embedding sensors and Internet connections into every conceivable product they can. Cisco estimates that by 2025 there will be over 1 Trillion devices connected to the Internet.

Okay, but Why?
For corporations, they gain value by collecting all kinds of data on how people use their products. They want to do two things; find ways to reduce features and costs and design better products to sell more of them. For consumers, the hope is we can automate more of our lives, freeing up time to do things like tweet or hang out on Facebook more. Or maybe go hiking and canoeing.

We Are Already Cyborgs
Thinking of that famous line from Star Trek made by the Borg character; “Resistance is futile”? When you post something to Facebook, Instagram a blog, Twitter, news article comment…you are extending a part of your “self” into the digital realm. You may post and eat your lunch while an entire conversation happens around the posting you made. You may jump back in and out, but you’ve placed your “self” out there in a digital way. When your at work and your Nest thermostat sends a message to your smartphone that the kids just turned up the heat, there’s a series of actions happening connecting your life and your kids. And of course, you can turn down the heat and lock it in. Or when the kids forget their smartphone, you can unlock the front door from home.

Add to this how scientists are connecting our brains to the Internet. A new implant device has made it possible for a quadriplegic man to pick up things with his arm. New skeletal technologies are enabling the paralyzed to walk again.

The Phygital Future
Not all of these devices will succeed with consumers. Some are a solution in search of a problem. But many will be. It is simply the n nature of humans. Throughout our history we have developed tools; fires for cooking, arrowheads for hunting, the wheel for transport. Technologies, primitive and advanced, play a key role in our world. Every year we spend $10 Trillion on energy, communications and transportation infrastructure. That’s quite a lot of money. As our world becomes ever more connected, technologies will become more “invisible” and that’s when they get useful. Think of the telephone. That is an “invisible” technology. We all use them. We learn how to use a telephone at a very early age, now the telephone feature of a smartphone is just that, a feature. It is no longer the purpose of the smartphone.

Our world has already become phygital.

Article by Giles Crouch

Are We Sharing Less on Social Media? Yes.

According to an article in The Information via an internal Facebook email, there’s a bit of a panic on at the erstwhile behemoth of social media. People just aren’t sharing much personal, or “original" information anymore. A 21% decrease between 2014 and 2015. At over a billion users, that’s not a small percentage.

Other Platforms Are Shifting
So we decided to dig into some of our historical data from other social media research projects we’ve carried out in the last couple of years. Yes, there is a change. By analysing comments made in online discussion forums and blog post comments, we noted an interesting shift. Of the data we looked at, about 43% of people said they’ve changed what they post to select social media sites. Those being Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Instagram. The change was to share less “personal” information. Below we show a ranking of the personal information people are sharing less of.


Where We Share What’s Personal
It would seem people are still sharing personal information, but they’re shifting to where they’re share it. Leading in these is Snapchat, followed by Reddit. Channels consumers perceive as more private, less commercial and likely less monitored. Although that’s far from reality. But it is a matter of perception.

What’s Happening to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter?
Our view is that they are becoming much more general news feeds. The place for sharing news information, humour and related memes. What’s being shared less is vacations, personal crises, what we ate for breakfast (whew!) and family information.

What This Says About Social Etiquette
Remember when it was “cool” to whip out your mobile flip phone at lunch and take an “important” call? Now it’s not cool. Nor is it to have a blue blinking light protruding from your ear. These are examples of social etiquette taking hold. While we can’t definitively say that sharing less personal information on social media is a definite trend today, it does seem to be happening.

What are your thoughts? is this an emerging trend? Oh, and by the way I had a bowl of cereal this morning with sliced banana for breakfast.


Article by Giles Crouch - visit his profile on The Well, or get in touch giles@gotothewell.ca

Well Talent Makes National Splash for Prince Harry’s Invictus Games

Earlier this month, The Well’s Jill MacCannell was tapped to lead media relations for Prince Harry’s Invictus Games announcement, which alerted Canadians far and wide that the Games would be coming to Toronto in 2017.

 Selected for her proven expertise in PR, including heavy media relations experience with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/ Parapan Am Games, MacCannell garnered over 10 million earned media impressions for the announcement, with local and national coverage across broadcast TV, radio, print and online media.

Through the arrangement of live TV and radio interviews, as well as securing print and online coverage behind the scenes, the announcement appeared across a variety of national and regional media outlets including Canada AM, The National (CBC), ET Canada, CTV News Channel, TSN, The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star and more.

MacCannell is looking forward to returning to Toronto to support with Prince Harry’s visit to the city in early May to promote the upcoming Games.

Take a moment to visit Jill at The Well.

Inbound Marketing: 8 Indicators of Remarkable Content

The key building blocks of an inbound marketing strategy is remarkable content. What is remarkable content? Well, it’s content that gets consumed and shared—and ultimately helps you achieve your marketing goals.


When creating content, try to nail these indicators for remarkable content: 

1. Shareable

Your content doesn’t have to be interesting and valuable to everyone­—but it does need to scratch an itch for your target audience. Ask yourself if this piece of content is something your target audience will want to read and share with others.


2. Unique perspective

Offering a different perspective on a topic (even if it’s controversial) can help your content get noticed. When you challenge traditional viewpoints, you’ll find that people are eager to chime in with their own opinions, which means your content also gets shared.


3. Original data

Supporting your points or arguments with real numbers goes a long way in terms of making your content credible and trustworthy. And if your data comes from your own original research, it’s even better.


4. Presentation

You may have a similar message as your competitors, but if you can present your information in a different way, your content is more likely to stand out and be read. Consider options like infographics, videos, slideshows and cartoons.


5. Relevant

It’s important to create content on topics that your target audiences will care about. What keeps them awake at night? What do they want to learn about to be more successful in their jobs?


6. Timely

Think about topics that are top-of-mind for your target audiences. Keep an eye on industry news and see what’s trending on social media. 


7. Understandable

Have you written about your topic in a way that is easy to understand? Even the best content idea in the world will fail if people don’t understand what you’re talking about. Aim for clear and concise.


8. Quality

Your content needs to be professional. This means you need to spend the time and money to ensure you are producing high quality writing, design, images, infographics and other visual elements.


The more remarkable your content, the more it will help people move through the buyer’s journey. Not to mention, more people will link to your content, and who doesn’t want more inbound links?


How do you determine what qualifies as remarkable content?



Article by Emily Amos



script type="text/javascript"> _linkedin_data_partner_id = "11489";