Social Media’s Influence on Young People in Barcelona

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This piece was written by Julie Campbell, who recently returned from vacation.

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Social networking is alive and well among the American study-abroad students in Barcelona!

Don’t bother sending you student with detailed guidebooks. Your friends’ recommendations don’t help either. Forget the 73 reviews on http://www.timeout.com/Barcelona. Zagat and Frommers are no help either. Despite the fact that there are so many outstanding choices, social networking is the only guide needed to determine which trendy Barcelona beach nightclub to go to tonight.

It all begins with Kike, an enterprising 20-something nightclub guru who shares the nightly hotspots with eager american study-abroad students. Actually, it began even before your student ever left this country. For several years Kike has been ‘the’ source and your son or daughter has heard from every friend who has previously been to Barcelona that he or she has got to get on kike’s Blackberry messenger (bbm) list. It doesn’t matter which travel abroad program, or at which school your student is currently studying (or partying). Kike’s daily text message goes out to hundreds of students who willingly share their bbm pin with this initially anonymous person. They ‘like’ him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and post positive comments about their experiences. Over the last few years he has become ‘the’ resource for what is happening at night in Barcelona.

Mid-day (which in Barcelona is at about 4pm) a text goes out to all the followers revealing that night’s hotspot. As soon as a few students ‘like’ the choice, a snowball effect occurs. The Twitter chatter begins, Facebook statuses reflect the ‘like’ for that night’s choice and literally hundreds of American students descend on that one spot, usually no earlier than 1am.

Does it matter which club it is? No. What music is being played? Nope. The club’s theme? Not at all. The dominating influence is that everyone will be there. All this thanks to the advent of social networking. It’s so easy, and it starts all over again tomorrow.

What does this mean for the marketer/retailer/CPG company?

These 20-ish college students are your consumers of tomorrow and knowing how to effectively and efficiently communicate with them is critical to success. Expert recommendation certainly has its place in the modern marketing world, but ‘who you know’, ‘what they think’ and ‘who they tell’ may be of more value. Incentivize your customers to talk about you. Reward a customer when she makes recommendations to others. Set up a Facebook page, get them to ‘like’ you. Give them a reason to tweet about you, sign in at your location on Foursquare, and add a comment or picture of themselves engaged with you or your product. Your marketing dollars will go along way. Don’t forget, it starts all over again tomorrow…


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