Having two children who fall into the millennial generation, I have been forced to understand the phenomenon known as social media. Why do I label it a phenomenon, you may ask? Well, to me texting, Twittering, Facebooking, Instagraming, and Snapchatting to someone IN THE SAME ROOM as you are in is the antithesis of being social. But it is the reality of this technologically crazed time we live in.


This new normal, however, does not just affect the way we communicate with friends and loved ones. The young woman who posts the social media pages for my company sends me my tweets as seen on Twitter. They sound pretty darn good, and then I ask myself, “Who is actually seeing them?”


YOU DON’T NEED TO BE NOSTRADAMUS

Advertisers must also be flummoxed about how to market their goods and services in this environment. Is social media the same as social networking? Do blogs count? How do you avoid falling into the spam folder? How do you avoid getting lost in all the messaging or, just as bad, how do you avoid oversaturation to the point of being annoying? Privacy anyone?

And if you are savvy enough to figure that out, how do you make it work in a time where traditional buying behavior is changing rapidly? What’s important to the baby boomer generation just doesn’t resonate with the more recent generations.


Author and economist Jeremy Rifkin was quoted in a recent Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research report, saying, “Twenty-five years from now, car sharing will be the norm and car ownership an anomaly.” How will this change the advertising industry’s equivalent of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? You don’t need to be Nostradamus to know that the future of social media will need to change.


CAN MAIL WORK IN THIS NEW PARADIGM?

Think about this: according to Brandwatch, in July of 2015, there were 2.3 billion active social media users. The average Internet user had 5.54 social media accounts. When you factor in the other activities you do during the day, like breathing and eating, how much time does one really have to process that much information?


I’ve been in the mail business for 30 years, and I find myself asking if mail can work in this new paradigm. And each time, the conclusion I come to is: yes, it can. Surely all those instances when mail has worked effectively in a multi-channel marketing effort can be replicated with social media.


The line between social traditional and social media is blurring more every day. The analytics around social media are becoming more powerful, useable, and comprehensive as the art evolves.


And marketing mail is keeping pace. In 2016, we saw many instances of emerging technologies in mail using social media. These include:


• Video in print

• Virtual reality, where first-person perspective is used through sight, touch, and sound

• Enhanced augmented reality, where video animation and 2D and 3D interactive graphics are used to bring you to a website

• NearField communication that takes you to a video via an app


THE ANSWER IS PERSONALIZATION

If we have learned anything from past “new” technologies, it is that social media will need to become more personalized and need to cut through the clutter that is modern, speed-of-light, interactive communication.


One way to achieve this could be through the use of the Postal Service’s Share Mail product. Share Mail provides a way for a business to send or distribute an offer or promotional information to its customers and can then be forwarded to other individuals through the mail.


Simply put, businesses send mail pieces to customers with an attached Share Mail postcard. If the recipients feel they know someone who would be interested in the offer, they just detach the card, address it, and put it in the mail without affixing postage. The sender only gets charged if the promotional piece is deposited into the mail stream.


Perhaps the next tweet we send should use the hashtag: #mailworks.


Vincent J. DeAngelis is Vice President, Postal Relations, and Shipping Product Management, Neopost USA. Neopost USA provides hardware, software, and financial services to mailers and shippers of all sizes. Visit www.neopostusa.com for complete information about Neopost USA’s solutions and services.

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