I’d like to add my bit to the debate on advertising vs social media.
It’s not really a debate on which is better. These conversations often fritter away along those lines. I’ll let others discuss the small details elsewhere for now. They will co-exist for a while yet so let’s be friends.
In reading David Warwick’s most excellent mini-thesis on the subject in the Marketing Mag 2011 Digital Survival Guide I thought yep, the man has the right idea. I want to support that notion. In essence: Story-telling by brands has been done badly for too long now. Direct, relevant and profound contact between brand and market can now be done through social media at half the cost of trad advertising which, to be honest, is looking pretty tired as a medium. You know what I mean. We’re going to broadcast some expensive media/ideas at you with some slim connection to the product we’re hawking and you’ll love it and buy it.
Nuts to that.
If you have something way cool, why don’t you come and tell me about it? ME. Not everyone who might possibly buy it. My mates and I are blogging about the product, talking about it on twitter, let’s have a chat about it one to one. We might teach you something. You might want to let us push things forward? Why not?
So social media is very different as David explained.
Let’s see how the change in mindset unfolds. Let’s look at the Beatles maybe?
Pretty energetic stuff. A man sits to the side of the stage in the glare of the lights. As the night wore on you could see the sweat glistening on their foreheads. Maybe you said something to John between songs and he smiled at you. It’s pretty direct contact. It meant something. We’re telling YOU a story here. Hope you dig it.
Fast forward four years…
What the? Who’s the dude in the suit? Keep it down girls, I can’t hear them. Awww, let’s go home. This sucks. And that’s mass media. The most saleable message to the most people in the shortest time. Great for buzz. Bad in terms of contact with the fans. Do you think many people spoke about the songs played [the message]? What Paul said between songs to the audience? Rather, how much was said about the event [the medium]?
The Beatles knew it sucked. That’s why they stopped touring and dug in at the studio. It’s about the music [the message]. It’s about understanding between people. Real value and a real connection.
Eventually the hype killed the brand but not without one more show…
Get Back. Right on. Scale down your message. Make sure everyone hears it. Enjoy what you have to share and they will to.
So it’s not about which is best. Advertising and pushing your ‘branded stories’ out at people on a large scale will still work for a while longer. One thing to flag to marketers though (and the advertisers know this), you’ve lost your early adopters. They don’t watch TV any more. They don’t hum to the radio jingles in the car on the way to work. They’re online and talking with each other. If they have some memorable contact with your brand through social media or a great website they’ll be passing on to your market. Think about it. How long do you want to keep paying inflated media and creative prices to support a medium that’s, well, pretty lame?
Get back. Talk to your customers again. They ain’t so bad. They’re just like you and me. Say hello.
Oh yea.. The Druids. Here they are.
The ‘keepers of the brand’, the sacred few who can craft a media message and distribute it (not pointing any fingers). Bullshit. We can all share a story. Give it a go.