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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

Facebook hopes to get yeety fresh with a new meme maker

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook has a whole new team to create new apps to keep up with the likes of Tik-Tok and instagram, but who wants them to?

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facebook meme maker whale

The tea is Facebook, triggered by its basic label, is tired of Taking L’s and wants clout and is ready to be on fleek with some yeets from Gen Z.

What this means, is Facebook launched a new app called Whale, which lets users make and share memes in a super simple way. Right now, Whale is only available on the Canadian App Store.

Tik-Tok, a video-focused app, has quickly risen in interest and grabbed the attention of the younger set. In an effort to boost its market share with competition from Snapchat and Tik-Tok, among others, Facebook is using its New Product Experimentation (NPE) team to develop apps that will be of interest to users, The Verge shared. Whether it is able to find its way into their cold and possibly stunted hearts is yet to be seen.

A Pew research study, published earlier in 2019, shared that half of American teens use Facebook, which The Next Web pointed out is not its largest demographic of users. Instead, seven out of 10 adults use Facebook, with 75% visiting daily, according to the research study.

The app arrived on Nov. 15, 2019, according to App Annie. With one, five-star review to date, the app is said to be easy to use to create and share memes. But, not very unique in a market where making memes has become “lit”.

The app allows users to take or select from their camera roll or browse the apps’ stock images to create easy to share memes. Users can also insert text, use filters and effects, according to Tech Crunch. Users have the option to make their own stickers and even draw freehand.

As Facebook’s NPE team comes up with new apps, Tik-Tok, is on its way to 1.5 billion users. But, not without some controversy, since its Chinese-owned and U.S. lawmakers have become concerned about the security of user data.

As Tech Crunch explained, the Canadian launch allows Facebook to test out the app in a market similar to the U.S. but with a smaller user-base, in case it should take off and require it to scale quickly.

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Social media site by Wikipedia founder – lofty goals, limited functionality

(SOCIAL MEDIA)Wikipedia founder has created a news social networking site to help people escape from the shady practices of other sites, but is it all that good?

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced the launch of WT:Social last week, a social network sprung from the WikiTribune project. In addition to creating the global encyclopedia that your high school teacher won’t let you cite as a source, Wales is also behind the Wikimedia Foundation and the Jimmy Wales Foundation for Freedom of Expression.

WikiTribune is a volunteer-driven platform focused on delivering “neutral, factual, high-quality news.” (There’s a lot that could be said about the ethics and logistics of trying to “fix” news by paying reporters even less/nothing, but that’s another article.)

Springing a social network out of a news site means that WT:Social’s focus is largely going to be on fixing what’s wrong with Facebook’s news. They’ve drawn criticism over the last few years for their news policies.

Among other things, despite theoretically banning white nationalist content, their list of “trusted” news sources includes Breitbart, a site whose founder has called it a platform for the alt-right. (The alt-right itself is a self-avowed white nationalist movement, among other things) Zuckerberg has also (as we’ve pointed out) claimed that politicians have the right to lie in advertisements. Refusing to hold advertisers to any sort of standard of truth is deeply concerning, to say the least.

So WT:Social is out to improve the way that people consume and share news. But is that enough to make it succeed as a social network? After all, people looking for FB or Twitter alternatives aren’t just looking for news. They’re looking for a less toxic platform.

Facebook and Twitter have both received criticism for how they handle user experience and advertisements alike. Both have problems with bubbling extremist movements, and both have struggled with public perception in the wake of persistent allegations that their moderation systems are under-resourced, and tend to side with abusive users over the marginalized people those abusers were targeting. For their part, Twitter has overtly stated that people who violate their terms of service regarding harassment or threats will not be banned for it, so long as they are sufficiently newsworthy.

This might have something to do with the fact that they see some of those same TOS violators as enough of a draw to their platform to feature them in advertisements. And of course, Twitter kept conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars media company on the platform despite rules violations until he confronted CEO Jack Dorsey in person.

One theoretical point in WT:Social’s favor is that they’re planning on being donation-supported, rather than ad-supported. Which is fantastic from an end-user standpoint, but raises issues on buy-in from others. And that’s not the only potential stumbling block in WT:Social’s path.

As yet WT:Social hasn’t really stated a particular interest in competing with Facebook and Twitter on the social aspects of social media, and so far, that lack of interest comes through on the site. This writer signed up for the social network (looking, as ever, for a Facebook alternative) and was greeted by a number of baffling things.

First, my attempts to log in were greeted by a notification that I was “number 65538 on the waiting list,” and that I could send invitations to get earlier access to the site, to make posts.

WT waiting list contribute

Then, I made posts.

But now I can’t find them?

Beyond that, I’m not sure what the waiting list is actually for. On top of the mysterious queue, there’s a place where I can subscribe! But once again, I don’t quite know what I would be subscribing to, and $12.99/month is a lot to ask for a service that’s completely undefined. I suppose that I could track down other sources to explain this to me, but if the user experience is so confounding from the outset that I need to learn about it secondhand, do I really want to pursue the site further?

A friend and I, both eager for a Facebook alternative, started writing on each other’s walls to test the service out. But in lieu of any kind of notification system, we found ourselves writing on each other’s WT:Social profiles, and then returning to Facebook to let the other person know that we had done so.

It’s not an auspicious beginning.

But at the same time, something needs to happen. With Facebook’s reputation for promulgating fake news, Twitter’s notoriety for abuse, Reddit’s haze of toxicity, and content hubs like YouTube and Tumblr cracking down on adult content (and seemingly defining the existence of LGBT people as inherently “adult,”) people are looking for some kind of life raft. The person who creates a robust social network that commits to rooting out toxicity could have quite the business opportunity on their hands.

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Twitter’s crackdown on deepfakes could insure the company’s survival

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter is cracking down on manipulated and misleading content—will other social media platforms do the same?

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deepfakes

Twitter isn’t renowned for things that other social media platforms lay claim to—you know, setting trends, turning a profit, staying relevant—but the oft-forgotten site finally has something to brag about: cracking down on deepfakes.

Oh, and they also finally pulled out a profit this year, but that’s beside the point.

Deepfakes, for those who don’t know, are videos which have been manipulated to portray people—often celebrities or politicians—saying and doing things that they never actually said or did. The problem with deepfakes is that, unlike your average Photoshop job, they are extremely convincing; in some cases, their validity may even be impossible to determine.

Unfortunately, deepfakes have been used for a variety of unsavory purposes ranging from moderate humiliation to full-blown revenge porn; since ruling them out is difficult, the long-term implications of this type of video manipulation are pretty terrifying.

You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that all social media platforms should address deepfakes as a serious issue, but the fact remains that many platforms have taken decidedly lackadaisical approaches. Facebook, for example, continues to allow content from producers who have histories of video manipulation, the dissemination of misleading information, and flat-out false advertising—something that has been generally glossed over despite being heavily addressed by media.

This is where Twitter is actually ahead of the curve. Where other social media services have failed in the war against “fake news”, Twitter hopes to succeed by aggressively labelling and, in some cases, censoring media that has been determined to be manipulated or misleading. While the content itself will stay posted in most cases, a warning will appear near it to signify its lack of credibility.

Twitter will also remove manipulated content that is deemed harmful or malicious, but the real beauty of their move is that it allows people to witness first-hand a company or service purposefully misleading them. By keeping the problematic content available while making users aware of its flaws, Twitter is increasing awareness and skepticism about viral content.

Of course, there is room to criticize Twitter’s approach; for example, some will point to their act of leaving deepfakes posted as not doing enough, while others will probably address the tricky business of identifying deepfakes to begin with. Luckily, Twitter’s policy isn’t set in stone just yet—from now until November 27th, you can take a survey to leave feedback on how Twitter should address these issues going forward.

As Twitter’s policy develops and goes into place, it will be interesting to see which social media platforms follow suit.

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