Parenting Mags and Mad Men: Connecting Via Media

Research care of Parenting Magazine notes some interesting findings:

  • 76% of moms feel that parenting magazines have less information of interest to them once their children start school.

  • 76% of moms would rather connect with moms who are dealing with the same issues they are, regardless of their age or the age of their kids.

This research underlies the larger issues that print media is facing. With the level of interactivity social media offers users, users are coming to expect that sort of interactivity from all media they consume. New media makes one-to-one connection possible. In the mommysphere, blogs and online communities are delivering content that allows people to enter into conversations with other moms. Once a mother experience’s that level of interactivity, the stale articles in parenting magazines fall flat.

It’s not just moms who want to connect. All across the media spectrum, people want ways to connect. The user-generated Twittering of Mad Men characters offers viewers of the show a chance to make a connection with the characters that pre-social media viewers could not have imagined. Expect this type of activity to become more prevalent, not less. While the Mad Men characters are simply fans taking control of the brand, there are no doubt marketers that have taken an interest and are planning ways to harness this for other brands.

How do we feel about this as marketers? This sort of phenomenon raises the bar for content. It urges us to take campaigns down to a personal level. That is not an easy thing to do.

But as the Mad Men Twitterers have shown us, if marketers don’t go there, users will.


Five tips for conducting interviews

I am a big believer in informal, qualitative interviews. There is certainly a place for statistical, quantitative research, but when you want to uncover motivations or capture specific details, you cannot beat just sitting down with someone for a good 30-minute conversation. This can be a difficult task, though. Here are five tips to facilitating more in-depth interviews:

  1. Ask why. You may have been told to never ask “yes or no” questions. This is a nice idea in theory, but I gotta tell you, it is nearly impossible in a long form interview. So, instead of simply never asking a “yes or no” question, just follow them up with a “why?” and see what happens.

  2. Ask for examples. This gets people to tell a story. Sure the story may not be riveting, but at least it is a story. This type of question forces people to get down to details. The details are where the real meat lies. And if they cannot give you a real example, then they are probably not answering truthfully.

  3. Ask about the subject. You may want information about something else, but you might want to start by asking about the person you are talking to. You see, it is far easier to talk about yourself. You have more information about yourself and your perspective. This is a good way to get people comfortable with answering questions. Once they are comfortable you can take the conversation to different places.

  4. Tell a story yourself. We live in a sound bite culture. Therefore we sometimes think that the proper answer to a question is short and concise. Well, in an interview situation where you are trying to get to underlying motives or issues, sound bite answers don’t help the cause. Feel free to tell a story about yourself related to the topic. It shows the subject that it is okay to take time to fully answer the question by providing concrete examples.

  5. Don’t try to fill awkward silences. When someone is actually trying to form a solid answer to a question, it is natural for them to think for a few moments. This may create periods of silence, but that is okay. Give them a moment to collect their thoughts.

The idea here is not to try to manufacture conversation. This is not an exercise in controlling the other party. You don’t want to force answers on the other person. Instead, you want to enable a conversation to go where it may. If you do this, you will never be disappointed with the answers.

What are some tips you have on conducting qualitative interviews?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user wok.