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WTF is YOLO? or, Reaching Digital Audiences with YOLO
By: Jennifer Stack
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A new movement is upon us and it goes by the name of YOLO. If  one YOLOs, then one is known as a YOLOer. This latest Internet phenomenon in youth culture is the acronym YOLO, made popular by rap artist Drake, who name-checks the phrase frequently in many of his live performances and recordings. YOLO, meaning “You Only Live Once,” has appeared in everyone’s social networking profiles and become a hashtag on the likes of Twitter and Instagram.
 
YOLO signifies your ability to embody youth; be carefree and wild at heart. But it really takes form in the everyday, mundane-yet-socially-skewed as exemplified by one teen who tweeted, “When I'm at the pool getting something to eat, I don't wait 20 minutes to get back in. #YOLO.” Still, this new digital indicator signifies a major truth to the common belief that youth use the Internet primarily as a form of self expression and identity creation. Of course, kids will be kids and not all YOLO statements are as serious as them baring their souls. In fact, many YOLO statements are written in the tonality of ironic or deviant humor in an attempt to be avant garde. The hashtag has reached such heights of popularity amongst the teen sector that it even appeared a trending topic on Twitter, reappropriated to include pop culture and meme elements such as #ReplaceBieberSongsWithYOLO and #NeverSayYolo. Twitter handles have emerged to produce pure YOLO feeds like @YOLO_Moments.
 
While YOLO still remains incredibly popular with today’s youth internationally, some backlash has started to emerge as it does with any Internet trend. Yet there remains an opportunity for marketers and advertisers to connect their brands with today’s digital natives by tapping in to this latest progression. Utilizing the YOLO acronym gives brands a youth-orientated voice and positioning, making the messaging and corresponding products relevant to modern ears and eyes. Additionally, there is a free market in the YOLO game, as no major blue-chip brand has embraced it in social media with a full-blown campaign to gather a vast array of user-generated YOLO content.

The best thing about YOLO for both YOLOers and brands is its sheer diversity and ability to live within many frameworks, both fun and calm, silly and serious, simple and smart. There is without a doubt a YOLO for everyone across the social sphere.


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About the Author
Jennifer Stack is a Social Media Strategist at a digital advertising agency. She was a 2011 Notable.ca YP Social Media Finalist. International Marketing Communication, MA. International Marketing Strategy, MSc. LinkedIn + Twitter.
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