What was your life like when you did not have a smartphone and the world was not yet within reach through social media? What did you do, if you were on the move looking for information? Or if you have a moment alone, without people around you? What did you do when the sun sank into the sea and you wanted to share the beauty of the moment? It’s sometimes hard to imagine that time. We have become accustomed to be constantly connected.
Anytime, anywhere, direct contact. Direct answers. Instant confirmation. Instant gratification. Cultural critic Doug Rushkoff Class even speaks of a Present Shock: only now is what counts in our world. And for marketers is this increasingly become the mantra marketing at the moment. Everything must live, real time and are always on. Social media, which is where you make the difference in the here and now. With enticing content and fun inhakers, instead of intrusive ads of yesteryear. Go from early morning to evening conversation late and consumers will embrace you in his life. It sounded so tempting. But it turned out one of the biggest marketing misconceptions of our time.
A contest timeline pollution
Of course, from a service point of view it is good to go as an organization in the culture of always on. Customers now expect a faster response if they have questions or complaints. Sensible to your web care (and other channels) thereon to set up, so you’re always ready for people. Where and when they need you.
But ‘always available’, that is not the interpretation given marketing land to “always on”. ‘Always on’, which is primarily a contest timeline pollution of brands that have been foisted consumers on social media like five times a day have a conversation about stock cubes, bicycle lamps and fluorescent toothpaste. You know the kind messages is: “These are our new cubes – what is your favorite?”
Remember meanwhile any kind of traditional marketing, because the dialogue is the true love born of the stock cube. New era, new marketing laws.
Relationship talk at the breakfast table
Why is this belief in the power of always-on marketing through social media? I think it has something to do with the tendency of the modern marketer to approach everything in terms of ‘relationships’. In case you had not inherited it: consumers today want not only buy your stuff – no, they want to enter into a relationship with your brand. They want you to look deep into the eyes, listen to all the beautiful stories that you have to say and always be with you to co-create a better world together.
I admit: it feels good to believe in such a relationship as a marketer talk. After all, it sounds much nobler at the breakfast table, “No honey, I’m going today no more cubes trying to sell than yesterday, I go along with our customers conduct a transparent and authentic dialogue about a sustainable world in which everyone can enjoy our broth. “
An unanswered love
Of course, it is tempting to talk about as your profession. It may even be what drives you to come in the morning from bed. But let’s be honest: how important we find our own brand, the chances are that we are only a footnote in the life of most customers. A satisfaction of a volatile need, but not more than that. Normal people are not waiting to note that throughout the day angling for their love as if they were their best friends.
Once you draw the conclusion that brand love is an illusion. Richard Huntington, group chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi UK, hit the nail on the head in his blog “Why” always on “is Such a turn-off“:
Some exceptional brands enjoy some exceptional relationships with people. [But most] people have far better things to think about than ‘engage’, ‘participate’ or ‘join in conversations’ with brands. They have actual human beings for that.
Significantly, the research also figures that author Jay Baer refers in this blog. Consumers expect brands are waiting for them on multiple social platforms. But those same consumers are limited willing to follow brands via these platforms. Always available: yes, please. Always in my sight: no, thank you.
A lesson about loyalty
But wait, you might think our loyal fans and followers then? Of course, a small group of fans will always be there. And it is good to maintain regular contact with them. But look at it from a broader perspective: how much time and budget you want to spend on this select group? It may sound so impressive – 1,000, 10,000 or 100,000 followers – but count once out what percentage of your (potential) customers involved.
Professor Byron Sharp did it based on research already explained in his book How Brands Grow: generally, only a small portion of your customers really loyal. Most people who buy your product, do not do that out of a deeply felt love for your brand or product, but out of habit, convenience or moderate satisfaction. Those are not the people who seek to interact with your brand on social media. But they determine the bulk of your revenue. And to reach those people, remains a mass media approach is often the most effective – simply because you thereby have a much greater range. Like it or not.
The deceptive magic of the moment
Regardless of the illusion of reality is alive, there is another problem with always-on marketing through social media. Martin Weigel, head of planning at Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, which lays bare its fine. As marketers we are increasingly fixated on interaction in the here and now – and that goes according to Weigel at the expense of long-term thinking.
Sometimes we seem as marketers themselves overcome by shock present: we eagerly dive on the latest tools and pay attention to what is directly measurable and visible – such as short-term data views, likes, shares, the conversion of the last campaign. It’s also nice to score at conferences and club nights, when you shake a few such numbers up your sleeve which will then be shared kritiek- and context-free. But in the blind adoration of anecdotes is a great danger. Because brand preferences you build over time, not with a success here and there.
Digital interactions encourage a pricing of immediacy and a thinking in the short-term that is fundamentally at odds with how branding builds real and sustainable growth for businesses. […] Short-term data leads to short-term perspectives, short-term objectives and short-term strategies.
Forgetting the importance of long-term
This focus on short-term data, I think, is where the shoe pinches in populist pleas to throw traditional marketing completely overboard. Long-term effects of mass media communication are slower and less easily measurable – so, you know what, we declare that vague old-school stuff but dead, because look how committed our inhaker returned yesterday and look how many people just have our periscope peeked. Pretty impressive, right?
However, it is naive to think that all those small interactions automatically add up to success over the long term, Weigel explains. He refers to research from the IPA. This British trade association brought short- and long-term effects of brand communication card over a period of thirty years. The main conclusion of the IPA: long-term effects are not simply the sum of short-term effects. Long-term effects require a long-term investment in creating and perpetuating the desired brand associations.
In other words, we may then in an always-on culture of life in which the here and now central, brand communication still works through people’s memories. It brings Weigel to a balanced conclusion. He does not deny that real-time interaction (via social media) may have value for brands, but he enhanced role for long-term thinking:
We should be asking ourselves how marketing content will generate short-term conversation. [...] But we should also be thinking through how that activity will build, sustain and refresh long-term memory structures around our brand. Since it is that – not mere communication exposure and interaction – which is the engine of growth.
The conversation that no one wanted to perform
Verkwansel not know what you’ve built up over the years to brand associations, because you’re so anxious to be the talk of the social media. Occupation Critic Bob Hoffman gives the example of Andrex toilet roll brand, which for years on television advertised with a cute dog in the lead. Not innovative, but engaging and consistent, so that the message remained: Andrex toilet paper is soft, firm and long.
In 2013 the successful Andrex tried a different tack. The beloved pooch was downgraded to extras. Instead, people went on video to tell how they wipe their buttocks. Viewers were invited to vote for their favorite way of wiping: scrunching or folding. That’s right. With yes, the hashtag #ScrunchorFold.
Note: The original campaign video of Andrex has been taken offline while I wrote this blog. In the above version is a parody second voiceover added since 0:25. Believe it or not, this video will further be in line with the original.
Apparently it was the ambition of Andrex to dominate the social timelines with a national discussion about afveegtechnieken on the toilet. Not entirely surprising the Andrex was put on a lot of negative response. As illustrative reaction: “I felt like my anus had been’ve given a platform it had never requested”.
The moral of this story according to Bob Hoffman:
Abandon your long-established brand associations at your peril, particularly if you replace them with an attempt to talk to people about how they wipe their arses.
Making it all makes such a mess of Andrex as in this example? No. Does it make sense to continue to experiment with social media as a marketer, as Matthijs van den Broek argued in response to Part 1 of this series? Yes. Sometimes. On a scale and in a way that suits your goals, your budget and needs of your target audience. Without the distraction of the essentials: a good product, good service and a solid brand and communication strategy over time.
As marketers we are not people: think we ‘always on’ should be. It has in recent years crept into our system. So many new channels where we can indulge us, so many new features that we want to try immediately. But that something is possible does not mean that we should do it too.
Douglas Rushkoff describes it all in ‘Present Shock’: Now we are constantly connected, there lurks distraction on every digital corner. In our always-on world, it is therefore good to occasionally say to yourself: ‘not right now’. And perhaps it is one of the key competencies of the modern marketer – the self-control to say “not now.”