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Why Social Media And Sex Don’t Motivate Millennials And Baby Boomers

This is a collaborative post, written with John Twohig. There’s a lot of chatter in social media circles that use sexual innuendo’s to entice a baby boomer, gen x, and gen y’er to engage in the latest new product being pushed by some aggressive social marketer. 

Funny thing is that some of the social marketing techniques work – some of the time – and some of them work – well, not so well a lot of the time. Aggressive social marketers think that linking the sale of their product to sex will help them achieve a long term customer relationship?  And the results are usually not positive.

Research on Sex in Sales

You see if these social marketers did more effective research into the interests of the millennial group – generation x and generation y folks, and baby boomers – they may realize that there are more effective ways to engage this target group in social media circles – and it doesn’t rely on a sexy sales pitch.

  • For instance – there is a ton of data on what the millennial group looks at online as well as what baby boomers look at online.
  • Is it worth it for these marketers to access this data to see what they are looking at and what they are buying?

Related: The Multi-Device Digital Omnivore: The Online Future In Focus

Online Marketing is Powerful – Done Right

What is clear to the social marketers that have gained an understanding of online marketing is, it is a powerful force.

  • When the online community, which is largely made up of generation x and generation y, is intrinsically motivated to express their interest in your product/service, it will drive online engagement. And baby boomers are catching up fast.
  • This engagement takes place due to people, people that find the dynamic content which the enlightened social marketers are sharing online. The research shows that this engagement is at its highest when that content has an edutainment thread.

Related: The Holy Grail of Online Engagement (In 15 Steps)

Social Business – A New Online Model

Human behavior dictates the success of online social marketing, this is only now registering with companies and this new online model is called Social Business. The old marketing model is broken and the social online community members are now setting the agenda. Traditional marketers are not dealing well with this.

We are currently at the start of a revolution, a revolution into the biggest increase in communication since the invention of the printing press. Social Business allows business to leverage and optimize this communication revolution.

  • Mankind has never had the platform to express itself with the ease that social platforms allow. When people join these platforms they become both digesters of content and creators of original content. With nearly 2 billion people on these social platforms that is going to be a lot of original content.
  • The social marketers’ job is to harness this willingness of the online community to express themselves. The Social Business model allows business/organizations to leverage these intrinsically motivated communities.

Related: Ford’s Social Business Model, Seeks Multi-Directional Expressive Capability!

Does sex sell? Yes. Is it going to be part of social marketing? Yes, but that will be too limiting on social campaigns. What will work better?  Social marketers understanding how to interactively engage millennials’ and others in the online community (baby boomers for instance). Let the games begin.

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Image: “Photo of young caucasian couple /Shutterstock

Warren runs The Executive Suite, providing leadership & executive coaching programs, professional recruitment, One Page Business Plans, and franchise coaching services to businesses. Located in Hyannis, MA Warren is expert at people management, helping business executives hire, manage, and motivate others smarter. . He serves as the Director of Coaching Programs for Innermetrix, Inc. He is accredited in a variety of assessment and coaching methods. He is an ardent advocate of innovation, creativity, and inspirational change in business in life.

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  • Christina Giliberti

    Great post lads (nods at John and Warren). The digital industry is moving fast; faster than it ever has and companies are feeling a little like the ground has fallen away beneath them. Social is paving the way, BUT it’s the businesses that know their customers well and know how to target them, that are making the biggest waves. Marketing has to be customer-centric and social has to be soft sell. Why? Because what works. Combine with innovative content and you have a powerful social setup.

  • warrenrutherford

    Thanks Tina – you are quite right. Businesses that come out on top will use social marketing to understand and target their customers right. The messaging medium changes as well as the approach. 

  • I would agree with a large part of your comment, with the exception of the piece about business knowing it’s customers, that is a huge leap and one I do not subscribe to. Most Irish companies do not know where to find their customers, this is a very large part of the problem.

  • Hi John, Hi Warren, sex sells because it is a big part of who we are. I don’t see any reason to believe that social media will lesson it’s effect, I would presume it’s more likely to amplify it. I also think that most selling using sex is far from aggressive, It’s more subtle and better thought out than that. For me, that’s a male perspective?        

  • I agree with Niall. There is a huge irony in the title of this post, which is pitched to ‘sell’ the article, versus the content too :)~ Helen

  • Hi John & Warren,
    First of all, well done and fair play for coming up with this post to give us something to debate 🙂 Sex sells, (I’m noting the title of this post and the photo), and I agree with Niall’s comment below. Actually this post is combining both sex and social, (being published on a blog), and I’ve no doubt that that in itself will increase traffic to this post. As Niall says below, sex probably amplifies the effect of social marketing. The readers will no doubt be from a cross section of generations. I would have liked to have seen links to some of the research alluded to in the article – it’s good to be able to see the supporting data 🙂 Great post though guys, keep up the good work!
    ~ Helen

  • warrenrutherford

    Helen and Niall – right with your comments. Perhaps there is more to come on the research end of it.

  • I really feel a trip to specsavers should be the prize for all those reading the post. It is a male and female in the photo, seriously….. As for the research piece, hmmmmm will have to think about that, Warren, what do you think?

    Niall, using sex to sell products is the lazy way to market a product. The marketing team really do not have to be creative to come up with a thoughtful campaign, just a good size pair of…… and away you go:) Not that I mind a good size pair of ……myself.

  • Warren, John – great post – SEX – Sudden EXitement!! Short lived in marketing speak, I agree it’s the lazy way out. I and am both delighted you used my suggestions for your title, and disappointed you used sex to sell your article 😉

    I think “Edutainment” has a huge part to play in maintaining interest – I know this from the training environment – learning need to be both educational / informative as well as fun! (and Niall’s typo below reflects that).

    Does sex sell? Yes. Is it going to be part of social marketing? It already is as far as I am concerned.
    Congratulations, this could be an interesting comment thread…

  • warrenrutherford

     Elaine – we should have had you partner up on the title:).  In many respects we are looking at the opportunities for all social marketers to increase their return by paying greater attention to what their intended (or in some cases unintended) audiences are interested in.  Now, much of the commentary has been on the Sudden EXitement you speak of, yet there are 2 parts to the title, the other being Social Media.  So John and I figure we can help influence the effectiveness of social marketing by pointing out the need, in one sense, to pay attention more.  And yes John, guess we will need to do some further research…

  • The Social Business model does have space for the sexual element of online marketing. The reality is sex does sell, but how far are standards going to drop before people say enough is enough.

    The research piece will have to be done physically Warren, Viva Los Vegas:)  

  • Humor will always appeal to me more than sex online. Stuff like the Dollar Shave Club promo video  ( ) speak to me more.

  • Pat, you’re so kind 🙂
    Thanks a mil, really appreciate the feedback. Chat soon!

  • John Twohig

    Thanks Warren, enjoyed writing it.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    Thank you for your comment. It seems my previous response got deleted somehow.

    Leaders of businesses must be truth-tellers. It is uncomfortable to see where you (and your team) came up short. On the other hand, it is hard to make any necessary change without recognising what the problems are. All businesses have something to learn, even in times of success. That’s when you get “down and dirty” with the strategic plan. It’s a great combination of dreaming and practicality.

  • Hi Daniel, thanks for the comment and you’re welcome. It was a great post and we’re always on the look out for those for our #TYBcommunity list 🙂

  • Sian, thanks for the feature. I’ll be back at writing with you soon. Getting my writer’s mojo back!

  • You’re welcome Warren – and will be lovely to have you back in the fold

  • Thanks Niall – I saw the Facebook post recommended by Mari Smith so I knew it would be good

  • I LOVE this roundup, as it is the perfect read with a cuppa; thanks for taking the time to compile this for us Sian, and looking forward to the next one.

  • Thanks Frederique – I’m glad you like it. I enjoy finding the good posts that are out there to share

  • Thanks for the mention Niall and thanks for the other links too. Lots of good reading there

  • You’re welcome Amanda 🙂

  • No problem, it’s a great interview!

  • A great roundup here, Niall!

    Thanks for the Blogging Wizard mention too.

    I’ll be sharing this one with my followers 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing my content!

  • Agree that a lot of people doing this type of mistake. This tips are really helpful for every person whose attached with eCommerce world.

  • Hiding contact info is a great no-no William. Thanks!

  • Kenneth Chew

    Thank you for the lovely welcome Sian! We’re delighted to be able to share our insights with the community. Yes, definitely looking to contribute regularly moving forward!

  • CakeHR

    Thanks for listing!

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