One of the key components to President-elect Barack Obama’s win November 4th can be accounted for by how his campaign tapped into the digital lifestyle of the American youth culture marketplace. Using new media, particular social networks and text messaging, were among key aspects that created a strong foundation not only in terms of spreading the word, but fundraising as millions were generated from the under $25 donation category via friendsters on his social network created as part of a new media campaign by Chris Hughes, 24, co-founder of Facebook.

People could join local groups, receive updates, event information, ways to spread news to others via phone lists encouraging each member to call or text a set number of others, and created a strong new base of supporters especially during the caucuses and mainly via the tech-savvy youth market. His Facebook page and social network was so successful, it forced the McCain campaign to try and copy some resemblance of something similar starting with their own Facebook page. Not to mention the fact that the Obama campaign pumped out more than 2,000 YouTube videos throughout the course of his campiagn. But as the McCain campaign representatives admitted, they “did not support the culture of technology or believe in it as much as we should have.” While in the final steps to election day the Obama campaign had an organized list of cell phones to text to, it was a challenge to find out how one could receive a text from the McCain camp at all.

This is where we see a strong generational divide when it comes to brands trying to reach this new generation of consumers and why, at Label Networks, we produce a stand-alone Profile Report about this topic called the Digital Lifestyle Report. As we have always noted, grassroots marketing, branding, and advertising campaigns are what works best for capturing today’s youth culture markets because in many ways, grassroots efforts, which also include sponsorship of events, festivals, non-profits, and supporting up-and-coming athletes, musicians, and designers, seems most authentic to this demographic.

New media tools such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube allow for grassroots to blossom, for people to tag-on and create their own messaging or videos which then promote creatively, interactive discussion, and exponential messaging to others. The Obama campaign used this most effectively. What’s also interesting was that when new media was first introduced via Howard Dean’s campaign in 2004, it absolutely shocked the political industry as whole, proving that there were other ways of generating support outside of the traditional advertising genre.

So, if new media and technology can help with a Presidential election, it can obviously work well with a small or even large brand in terms of reaching a new generation of consumers.

Here are some statistics to note: 85.6% of 13-25-year-olds in North America have a personal profile in a social network, based on our primary data from our Digital Lifestyle Report 2008 released in September. This is increasing also, especially in countries like China, then Japan, but less as dramatically in Europe (see our European Youth Culture Study, Japan, and China for why this is). However what we’ve also uncovered in the Digital Lifestyle Report is that there is another generational gap within the generation of 13-25-year-olds itself, starting primarily at the age of 21. You can see this with the chart on social networks where we asked, in the last 6 months, “How frequently have you been participating in social networks?” The younger the demographic, the higher the percentages and the older the demographic, the lower the percentages. Generally, you have a new generation that’s coming in and using social networks not only as a source of meeting people, finding new music, promoting themselves, but also as a faster method of communication. You can update your page and send out a bulletin and friends and family can see what you’re up to.

To many young people, emailing is almost considered “old” and too slow (and forget about actually talking on a cell phone -conversations take too long). Second option of speed is of course IMing or texting. You can multi-text in abbreviations and emoticons faster than emailing and of course, faster than calling and talking.

To step back, with all of the money spent on ads on TV, this is another shortcoming of traditional political campaigns in terms of reaching the youth marketplace because more young people spend time online than they do watching TV. This has been the case quantified from our data in North America for the past few years. Your best bet would be to invest in cool short videos and post them on YouTube, which then get picked up by fans as they embed them into their MySapce pages, and so on.

Another interesting aspect to note which also shows the generational gap within the generation of youth culture is when it comes to where young people most want to watch their entertainment in the future, and the key aspects that they look for in their cell phones. The younger the demographic, the higher the percentages that prefer to watch their entertainment on their Laptop or portable device such as cell phone or MP3 player and the younger the demographic the higher the percentages that believe text messaging capabilities are most important as their key cell phone feature. The most significant shift in preferences start at 21 with results from our 21-25-year-old age group varying much differently than our 13-14-year-olds, 15-17, and 18-20.

What’s this mean for communication, branding, and marketing strategies? That times have changed drastically and old models will simply no longer work as this new generation comes into play. With the new President-elect and the sure-fire examinations of their campaign successes soon to hit mainstream media, magazines, and of course a number of books, knowing how young people use technology is essential for any brand’s survival because in a few short years, young people not yet eligible to vote will be the new target market.

Label Networks’ Digital Lifestyle Report is free for Premium subscribers. For those looking to subscribe, you can access information about it directly on this site at under Profile Reports.