Facebook #8212 To use, or not to use That is the question

I think I’m going to delete Facebook.I mean, sure, Facebook — especially for a millennial — can still be incredibly useful for things such as growing one’s personal brand or involvement in community organizations.

And, as a journalist, it is still an important tool for tapping into the collective mindset and coming up with new ideas (while navigating the pitfalls of “fake news”).

But frankly, its near daily use has become so overwhelming that it causes anxiety and fatigue. It has caused me to re-evaluate friendships with those who create false online personas of themselves for external validation. And, let’s face it — it causes more arguments than it does anything else.

I long to live my life without feeling the incessant need to experience it through the lens of social media. I look forward to the resurgence of in-person interactions. And, I cannot wait to forget about FOMO (fear of missing out) altogether.

So, here is why that matters to the business community: I am not the only one.

In fact, statistics show that I am part of the growing majority.

According to customer acquisition platform Fluent, 43 percent of millennials ages 18 to 34 still use Facebook every day. However, that is 18 percent lower than non-millennials.

That number continues to drop to 36 percent when speaking about younger millennials (ages 18 to 24) and millennial men, in particular.

Millennials, in general, are re-evaluating their usage of social media and becoming more selective of which platforms they want to participate on and what kind of content they want to consume.

For consumers, the answer is no longer, “I need to be on them all.” The question is now, “Facebook or Twitter? Twitter or Snapchat? Snapchat or Instagram? Instagram or YouTube?”

This should not only force businesses to reconsider the methods they use to engage with their customers via social media, but also, where, when and to whom.

For one thing, millennials are no longer the heaviest users of social media.

According to the 2016 Nielsen Social Media Report, Gen-Xers are.

Millennials ages 18 to 34 spent about six hours and 19 minutes each week on social media last year — a respectable increase of 21 percent over 2015; however, Gen-Xers ages 37 to 52 spent an additional 39 minutes (an increase of 29 percent), and Baby Boomers ages 50-plus increased their social media usage by 64 percent, spending about 4 hours and 9 minutes each week.

You would think those numbers would have boosted the success of “traditional” marketing on social media, such as providing additional product information, offering discounts and access to VIP opportunities and encouraging customer reviews, however, less than 40 percent of social media users engaged with brands that way. 

In fact, less than 30 percent followed to became a “fan” of something or someone, and just 13 percent of heavy social media users clicked on an advertisement.

Last year, brands that especially increased targeted advertising and video capabilities more successfully built brand loyalty and advocates across generations and gender.

That is because more than 50 percent of social media users were active in multimedia by posting and sharing photos, watching videos and commenting on posts.

Easily shareable content — whether that be photos of motivational quotes, the creation of live video for Q&A’s or real time events, or even memorable memes — make it more likely that brand advocates showcase their support.

So is mobile optimization. At this point, that is no longer an option for anyone. Ever.

Across the board, 70 percent of social media users of all ages utilize their smartphones to access social media.

Why? They multitask across multiple screens.  

“A whopping 61 percent of unique Facebook users who are interacting about something TV-related on Facebook are female,” Sean Casey, president of Nielsen Social, said in the report. “And when it comes to connecting with social TV audiences, bear in mind that using multiple devices at once is the new normal and reaching out while this group is watching TV is vital to capturing their attention.

“Keeping an eye on what female Gen-Xers are watching when it going to be key to finding them.”

That advice does not simply apply to brands seeking more women consumers.

According to the Nielson data, the best time to engage on social media is Sunday during primetime television — including televised sporting events. Facebook engagement increased by 43 percent at that time and Twitter by 33 percent.

All of this information can be overwhelming in itself and for most companies represents a complete 180 of the data they may once have used to construct social media campaigns.

Unfortunately, that is the fast-paced nature of online technology today. It is a necessary evil for most businesses, one that must be carefully controlled, monitored and created to be highly adaptable — but, it can also sometimes be fun and challenging.

Sounds like the perfect task for a restless millennial as they seek to decrease their time perusing social media and increase their time creating more original content for brands.

The most provocative food trends of 2017

Hoping to impress your clients with a home-cooked meal or an introduction to an exciting new restaurant?Make sure to check with the chefs and baking professionals over at Campbell’s Culinary & Baking Institute prior to selecting a menu.

Campbell Soup Co., the global food manufacturer headquartered in Camden, recently released its fourth annual Culinary TrendScape report.

The report compiles the most significant and creative emerging food trends in which Campbell’s chefs have deemed highly influential and ahead of the curve.

Each trend is then categorized into stages of advancement in the culinary world: ‘discovery,’ or trends which have emerged within limited but influential groups; ‘introduction,’ or trends which have reached culinary-minded audiences; ‘adoption,’ or trends which have gained traction with larger audiences; ‘mainstream,’ or trends which are currently well-accepted in many households; ‘established,’ or trends which have reached mass audiences; and ‘expanded,’ or trends which have reached global audiences.

Here are the most provocative food trends of 2017 according to the Campbell’s Culinary & Baking Institute in Camden:

1. Marine Greens (Discovery): Chefs and manufacturers are beginning to explore the use of underwater super foods such as dulse, a pan-fried seaweed with the flavor profile of bacon, or the use of spirulina, a detoxifying blue-green algae, in smoothies.

2. Advanced Japanese (Introduction): Now that the world has graduated from Ramen 101, chefs are beginning to explore lesser known regional and home-style Japanese dishes such as yakitori skewers, or bite-sized pieces of meat grilled over charcoal, and savory okonomiyaki pancakes, typically comprised of meat and vegetables. 

3. Chefs on a Mission (Introduction): In an effort to drive social change, top chefs are increasingly dedicating their time to purpose-driven projects such as food waste soup kitchens and affordable, high-quality restaurants for low-income areas.

4. Food as Medicine (Adoption): Unique diets continue to be peppered with the use of therapeutic ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, vinegar and bone broth. Such foods with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties continue to be prescribed along with home remedies.

5. Modern Middle Eastern (Adoption): Now that most consumers have been introduced to the vibrant street foods of the Middle East by means of falafel, hummus and shwarma, chefs and quick service restaurants are increasingly looking at selections such as labneh (mild and tangy cheese), kofta (spiced meatballs) and shakshuka (poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce).

6. Condiment Craze (Adoption): In addition to the current obsession with sriracha and homemade ketchups, chefs and consumers alike continue to look for flavorful sauces and spices that will enliven all-natural and farm-focused dishes. Try a recipe for spicy piri-piri sauce, originally made in Portugal from crushes chiles, citrus, onion and spieces, or a sweet, shallot jam.

7. Curry Culture (Mainstream): Often marketed as a comfort food, consumers everywhere can now find curry dishes in restaurants and at the market. Fragrant, simmered curry stews also often appeal to busy cooks.

8. Great Grains (Established): In addition to the health benefits of gluten-free and ancient grains, restaurants and consumers will focus this year on texture and temperature, seeking out sprouted grains and savory porridges. 

9. Southern Comforts (Established): Can you name someone who does not love biscuits? Southern cooking will continue to dominate with inspired variations on dishes such as fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and mac and cheese.

10. Coconut (Expanded): Now widely used in Starbucks’ coffees and Whole Foods’ cooking oils, the wellness ingredient will continue its rise by solidifying its place in specialty beverages and snacks.

And, don’t forget last year’s top trends, as many of them are still as fresh as ever: Cooking with Fire; Authentic Thai; French Revival; Inspired Ice Cream; Traditional Fats; Veg 2.0; Asian Noodle Soups; Haute Dogs; Simple and Real; and Caramel!