This was written for the DNA and appeared on Nov 3, 2014
Social Media isn’t just another channel. It’s a marker of human evolution. The impact of technology on us as a species is best seen in how our relationships, our attitudes, and our mores are changing. A“viral video” isn’t just a super-popular video; it’s a shared experience, an opportunity to re-enforce notions of self and identity. A like on a Facebook page isn’t just armchair activism; it’s validation — the largest driver of self-esteem.
The biggest challenge for us as marketers, employers, corporations, and societies, is to understand this new human being. This person whom many older people see as fickle, entitled, with no long term goals andplans, and with little respect for experience or institutions.
If you as a marketer are using social/digitalmedia for short- term gains: reach, fans, likes, and shares — you’re missing the forest for the trees, focusing on outputs, instead of outcomes.
Use it to test ideas and assumptions, not just gather data about everybody who “likes” your brand page, or follows you on a channel. Use it to build a narrative for your brand, not only for short-term campaigns that try and sell your latest and greatest product. Use it to understand this brave new world that’s already upon us, and not just think there are too many places for people to complain now.
The brands that understand this are already ahead of their competition. Without breaking non-disclosure/handshake agreements, I can safely say that some of the world’s largest brands are running projects to rebuild audience segmentation, category insights, product testing, go to market strategies, and customer loyalty programs. And that’s just the CMO.
It is not in the interest of the agency that makes all its margins of TV commercials to come to you with a digital firststrategy. You — the brand manager, the CMO, the CEO reading this article — has to drive that change. Or you will become irrelevant.