Thanks to social media, current Voice-of-the-Customer data is interactive, mobile, continuous, and increasingly relevant. For marketers willing to stay shoulder-to-shoulder with their most technologically adept customers, it is now possible to have continuous, cross-channel conversations with individuals in the market. The pace of change in customer communication technology has been unprecedented. Customer-marketer relationships are characterized by a mutuality and intimacy that-in other times-might have been reserved for one's hairdresser.
Customers are increasingly sophisticated consumers and users of technology. This sea change is evident in all customer age brackets, but market segmentation points to age-related user attributes that are evolving right along with the technology. In fall of 2010, authors Joan Mancuso and Karen Stuth of Research Intelligence Group wrote:
"If you have been harboring a belief about social media users as primarily young girls who are texting their friends from the mall, beware. It's time to refine your focus to account for the influence of social media across all age groups in your marketing and brand management programs."
Consumers in the 40 to 55 age bracket tend to use desktop computers over mobile connections to engage with internet-based activities, but they are participating in the same activities as their younger counterparts, and with increasingly greater frequency and fluency. Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb" summarized a key point from the 2009 Forrester report, How to Reach Baby Boomers with Social Technologies:
"In 2007, the percentage of Boomers consuming social media was 46% for younger Boomers (ages 43 to 52) and 39% for older Boomers (ages 53 to 63). By 2008, those numbers increased to 67% and 62%, respectively."
It is reasonable to expect that these percentages have increased notably in the nearly three years since the report was released.
Interactive marketing has achieved cross-generational acceptance. The 2010 Edition of the Global Trend Tracker on Social Media was completed by Gallup International Association and Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research. The study examines social media trends associated with Generation Y consumers. The Research Intelligence Group is the American representative member of WIN. The Tracker report can be found on their website.
Consumers, from Baby Boomers to Generation Y trend setters, seek and enjoy multiple devices that integrate social media and make user-generated content and frequent interaction seamless. All this connectivity appears to be shaping the nature of advertising and branding into a form that Razorfish has called .The SIM score is a social media marketing measure that shows promise in an industry where many interactive marketing professionals believe that social web metrics are not practical or even obtainable.