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USPS publishes report on direct mail, millennials and it’s so wrong

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The USPS published a study about the relationship between millennials and snail mail and Facebook lost its collective mind.

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Snail mail

USPS recently cultivated seemingly misrepresented information to develop a white paper report titled: “Still Relevant: A Look at How Millennials Respond to Direct Mail.”

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The report, although descriptive, has received a ton of backlash from millennials who have adamantly rejected the findings.

Throw some numbers

The first assertion the study makes is that young adults do read mail, although the stereotype is that they are digital obsessed and only reachable through social media. The study establishes though, that millennials respond to “paper in a mailbox.” According to the USPS in fact, 84% of millennials take the time to look through their mail while 64% would rather scan for useful information in the mail than email.

To support this assertion they relied on other studies to develop an infographic to reveal in more depth what millennials think and do about direct mail, or paper in the mailbox. According to the infographic, 77% of Millennials pay attention to direct mail advertising, 90% believe mail is reliable and 87% actually like receiving direct mail.

Another assertion from the USPS is that there is little difference between non-millennials and millennials and how they consume mail.

According to them millennials are 5% more likely to scan the mail, organize and sort the mail, and show mail to others.

One explanation for USPS’ overall assertion that Direct Mail is still relevant is based on a study with the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business on a study to gauge responses to physical and digital advertising pieces. They found that millennials processed digital ad content more quickly and spent more time with physical ads.

They also found that physical ads had a stronger emotional response and triggered activity in a part of the brain that corresponds with value and desirability.

The Canadian Post found similar results in two campaigns that used the same creative and messaging for both physical and digital media. From those they divulged that direct mail campaigns require 21% less cognitive effort to process, and participants’ recall was 70% higher when exposed to direct mail opposed to digital ads.

And despite the fact that it has been proven that millennials are more digitally engaged, the USPS and other marketers feel they are also suffering from digital fatigue and therefore ignore digital ads because they are so frequent. At the end of their white paper findings though, the USPS is careful to add that they do not recommend marketers to abandon all digital channels, because millennials are so present there.

How Do Millennials Feel About USPS’s Information on Millennials

As a millennial who vehemently avoids my mailbox, and has a monthly compost of physical ads from the USPS, I knew there would be opposition and widespread disagreement, but not like what I found. The most straightforward and common view I found, was a Facebook post with 427 likes and 48 supporting comments:

And while I don’t hate the USPS, I do partially agree with Derrick in that we don’t want mailbox fluff. A further look into comments reveals the majority of millennials and non-millennials too, disagree with the USPS’ findings.

A search on Reddit returns even more millennials who absolutely disagree, and makes us wonder: who the heck, and where the heck, did USPS get this information?Click To Tweet

I understand physical mail may provoke more emotion than digital ads since we are digitally desensitized, but I’m interested in what group of millennials they interviewed and what they asked for them to report that 84% of millennials take the time to look through their mail.

Millennial mail

Overall, we as millennials respect the USPS for its years of service and mail delivery, but to say we prefer it’s direct mail over digital content, is largely controversial and hard to agree with.

#USPS

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Gordon Glazer

    April 26, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    So it appears your thesis is supported primarily from opinions and likes to a negative comment on FB. And this is worthy?

  2. Scott

    April 27, 2017 at 9:21 am

    As a millennial and someone who works in the Direct Marketing Industry, I do question the percentages given on this report. I also know that my inbox is saturated with offers that I don’t even glance at.

    My biggest take away from this article is trying to correlate a “Reddit User” comparatively to a “Non-Reddit User”. I think it’s fair to say the typical person who posts on Reddit will be skewed against Direct Mail or Traditional Marketing Practices.

  3. Jamie Lumm

    April 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I am going to avoid making a snarky comment about the obvious grammatical error in the headline, so in keeping with the dozens and dozens of pieces of junk adverts I receive every day on Facebook, “like and share if you can find the mistake.” Oops, I think I just snarked there a little.

    What I find ironic about this article is how the author, in what some would describe as typical millennial fashion, dismisses the finding of two extensive studies because of “likes” and “comments” she viewed on Facebook. Seriously? Is that what millennials think constitutes research or objective polling? That’s what is called confirmation bias and is about as objectively reliable as asking Trump supports if we should build the border wall. If you really “wonder who the heck and where the heck” the USPS got this information, you should take the time to read the references listed in its many footnotes. Otherwise, people might think millennials have a short attention span.
    And while you’re at it, calm down a little. There’s no need to be vehement (def: strongly emotional; characterized by rancor or hostility; marked by great energy or exertion)about avoiding your mailbox. Somebody else paid for what was sent to you. Besides, a daily stroll to your mailbox is good for you, and you can toss your junk mail in the trash (or compost) all at once rather than having to swipe or mark each piece. Meanwhile, it provides the many millennials who produce and deliver it with decent well-paying jobs.

  4. Pingback: Amazon Hub is about to revolutionize the mail scene - The American Genius

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Social Media

Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.

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Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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Social Media

Facebook’s Forecast wants ‘qualified’ predictions, but no one’s asking why

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is asking a bunch of so-called experts to chime in on what the future holds, but can we trust them with the information we’re giving them?

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Forecast app

These days, trolls don’t necessarily lurk beneath bridges in order to ensnare unsuspecting travelers. Instead, they hide out in the comment sections on social media posts, ready to incite wrath and stir up controversy with their incendiary remarks. Because Facebook knows how quickly reasonable discourse can quickly devolve thanks in part to these online trolls, they’ve made a move to establish intelligent discussions through their new “Forecast” app.

The premise of Forecast is fairly straightforward. Facebook has invited an assortment of so-called experts (whether they work in the medical field or academia, or some other field) to cast their vote on predictions about the future. Not only will they share their vote, though, they’ll also pitch in their own two cents about these predictions, sparking what is expected to be insightful and reasonable conversation about the topics.

However, while the premise is exciting (smart people! not basement dwellers! talking about serious stuff!), there’s more than a small amount of risk associated with Forecast. For starters, what exactly is Facebook planning on doing with all of this information that is being volunteered on their app? And secondly, are they going to take precautions to help prevent the spread of misinformation when these results are eventually published?

The fact is, Facebook is notorious for propagating and spreading misinformation. Now, I’m not blaming Facebook itself for this issue. Rather, the sheer volume of its user base inevitably leads to flame wars and dishonesty. You can’t spell “Fake News” with at least a couple of the same letters used in Facebook. Or something like that. The problem arises when people see the results of these polls, recognize that the information is being presented by these hand-picked experts, and then immediately takes them at face value.

It’s not so much that most people are simple minded or unable to think for themselves; rather, they’re primed to believe that the admittedly educated guesses from these experts are somehow better, smarter, than what would be presented to them by the average layperson. The bias is inherent in the selection process of who is and isn’t allowed to vote. By excluding everyday folks like you and me (I certainly wasn’t given an invite!), undue prestige may be attributed to these projections.

At the moment, many of these projections are silly bits of fluff. One question asks, “Will Tiger King on Netflix get a spinoff season?” Another one wonders, “Will Mulan debut on Disney+ at the same time as or instead of a theatrical release?” But other questions? Well, they’re a little more serious than that. And speculating on serious issues (such as COVID-19, or the presidential election) can lead to the spread of serious — and potentially dangerous — misinformation.

Facebook has implemented very strict guidelines about what types of questions are allowed and which ones are forbidden. That, at least, is a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that expectation can actually lead to the predicted outcomes, directly influencing actions and behaviors. While it’s too early to tell if Forecast will ever gain that much power, it undoubtedly puts us in a position of wondering if and when intervention may be necessary.

But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t exactly trust Facebook’s ability to put this cultivated information to good use. Sometimes a troll doesn’t have to be overtly provocative in order to be effective, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see someone in a position of power exploit the results of these polls to influence the public. It’ll be interesting to see if Forecast is still around in the next few years, but alas, there’s no option for me to submit my vote on that to find out.

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Social Media

Well established Pinterest has a new competitor, Google Keen

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Google is constantly playing catch up, their new target is Pinterest. They have a new photo sharing social media app called Google Keen.

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Google Keen

It looks like Pinterest might finally have some competition: Google Keen. Notice the heavy emphasis on the word “might”.

It’s not hard to see why Google might feel a tad encroached upon by Pinterest, a photo-sharing and search-based platform; while Pinterest’s impact is relatively small in terms of taking traffic from the G-people themselves, any competition is unwelcome in Google’s eyes–perhaps justifying their move toward creating their own version of Pinterest.

Google Keen isn’t a direct ripoff–after all, they changed the name–but the general principle is the same: Users can create a “keen” for a specific visual topic, thus allowing them to search for, and add images of that topic. Google was quick to cite “bread” as a possible topic, which, according to Social Media Today, is a direct nod to recent Pinterest trends.

Subtlety never was Google’s strongest suit, and that seems to be a theme they’re reiterating here. Perhaps that’s why the Google Graveyard, a site we’ve addressed in the past, is full of tools that didn’t live up to their original inspiration (one of the latest additions being the half-baked Google Hangouts). Google Keen shows promise, but one can’t help but remember how Google’s Circles feature fared in Facebook’s shadow.

Keen is available for web and Android platforms, which answers one question while raising a few more. For example, while it makes sense that Google would brand Keen for their own smartphone audience, iPhone Google usage is notably high, and the Pinterest crowd loves a clean aesthetic (that’s another point in the Apple camp). As such, it might be in Google’s best Pinterests–I mean, interests–to implement an iPhone presence for the app as well.

It is worth noting that Google has taken deliberate inspiration from Pinterest in a lot of ways. So Keen may be a way for them to tout their adopted features and familiarize users with them so that, in the long run, they are able to begin migrating traffic back to their own platform from Pinterest. In a time in which any competition may open the door to disaster down the road, this is a move that, despite skepticism, makes sense.

After all, the Google Graveyard is operating at capacity, yet the tech behemoth continues to chug away. Who knows where their newest “innovation” may take them?

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