The 2015 Orlando IX Digital Expo was a two-day event featuring subject matter experts from some of world’s most forward-thinking companies, including About.com. Coca-Cola, Dell and the NFL. The expo also featured an interactive vendor area where a number of fun and innovative technologies were showcased.
The Orlando IX Digital Expo provided a number of key takeaways that gave us insight on trends within our digital world, emerging technologies and what factors to consider when marketing your products and services to today’s consumers. Here are few of the lessons that I learned during the two-day event.
How best to reach Millennials and Gen Z’ers
One of the most anticipated panels of the expo was the panel discussion: “Marketing to Millennials Across all Platforms.” In this panel discussion, thought leaders discussed new strategies for reaching the vaunted group. Melissa Albers, Director of Social Media for Full Sail University, discussed a new social media power trio for reaching Millennials and Gen Z’ers. “The new social media marketing trifecta belongs to Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.” She pointed to the speed and secure nature of these platforms, specifically Snapchat, as a reason for the shift. The shift to use of these platforms also points to consumers increasing attraction to visual media as a form of everyday communications.
It’s also important to point out that millennials are not even the youngest group with buying power. Gen Z’ers, people born in the mid to late 90’s, are an emerging consumer group with characteristics that differ from millennials. Michelle McKenna-Doyle, CIO of the National Football League, pointed out a number of the differences in her keynote presentation. These differences included engagement with more screens, a greater interest in communicating via images and a more pragmatic world view.
Consumer Thirst for Information Instantly
Through a number of the presentations and panels, it became clear that not only has the consumer attention span dropped dramatically over the years (around eight seconds), but their desire for instant information has intensified. It can be seen in our shift to social media platforms that provide instant access to content, like Periscope. It can be seen in data usage, where the NFL uses data to predict a player’s likelihood to become injured. It can also be seen in how new stadiums are constructed with the desire to be Wi-Fi-enabled having similar importance in shaping the fan experience as working bathrooms.
The Importance of Storytelling and Storyteller Tools
As marketers, we are all storytellers, so of course, there was a heavy emphasis on storytelling throughout the expo. Justice Mitchell, CEO of Big Block Studios said, “It’s a renaissance for the storyteller at this point.” Mitchell is referring to both the role storytelling plays in building brands today as well as the sophistication of tools and strategies at our disposal. Tools like Twitch and Periscope give users an opportunity to consume an event as it happens. These are powerful storytelling tools for showing the essence of your brand (think behind the scenes videos.) Of course, who you reach with your story is as important as the story itself. Bess Auer, founder of Florida BlogCon and Florida Swim Network, said that the platform she uses to push content depends on the audience she’s engaging. For the parents of the swimmers her organization covers she utilizes Facebook. For the swimmers themselves (typically high school students), she uses Instagram because younger consumers are drawn to images over text.
Marketing success lies in understanding the wants and needs of your end user
This is an old lesson but in our increasingly digital world in which consumers are overwhelmed with content, it’s more important than ever. Consumer wants and needs are also more elusive. Whether it’s UX, social media or storytelling, understanding what customers want at the precise moment you engage them (customers wants variety) is the key to reaching them.
Virtual reality technology is hot!
In the vendor section of the expo hall, the booths that received the most buzz during the event were the ones that allowed visitors to test virtual reality simulators. The most detailed experience came via the Full Sail University booth where you could be a paratrooper bombing targets or surf the big waves. Getting immersed in the experience of a virtual reality game is breathtaking and overwhelming. Paratrooper bombing feels so real that it’s hard not to “yelp” a little when you crash into stuff. As the number of entertainment options for this platform increases, it’s certain that virtual reality technology will become the entertainment experience of choice.