“Write what you know.” Advice I can recall as early as first grade, when my earnest little fingers wrapped themselves around the wood-and-graphite device which served as the conduit from my brain to the paper.
When considering social media, I can’t fully deconstruct analytics or measurement tools. I respect them and recognize them as the valuable indicators of aggregate human behavior that they are, but I don’t *know* data. What I do know is that social media is not advertising.
Rather, it’s a litmus test to individuals, organizations and companies across strata: how do you handle change? How do you adapt? How flexible are you? How secure are you?
Again, historically speaking, I was a seven year old who was CONVINCED that the Chuck Wagon horses lived under my mom’s sink. During commercial breaks, I used to watch the spokesmodel’s fingernails to see what color they were. If they were painted, I understood that I was to notice her hand. If they were neutral, I was to pay attention to what she was holding. I noticed when the Eternity fragrance for men ads started featuring a wedding band on the guy in the hammock. Advertising is message. Advertising is community. Arbiter or reflection? Both.
This unnatural fascination with the science and psychology of advertising is significant for me now, because I am lucky enough to live in a time when advertising is undergoing a seismic change. Social media constitutes a foundational, systemic and symbiotic upending of what traditional broadcast media has represented up to now. It’s exhilarating! …and just a little bit scary. Loss of control is a real hang up for about 99% of the people currently walking the planet, including Yours Truly.
Much as Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso redefined the power shift in the world of art (what was art; what was of value and how it was determined?), today, consumers influence the manufacturing and marketing process in a way that is unprecedented. Transparency and response time are 24/7. There is no more man behind the curtain. Before I devolve too far into Jargonland, we *do* live in a 360 society. And unlike a Don Draper world where next season’s splash blinds The Masses to What Went Before, social media is F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Again, scary stuff.
We live in a world where people with purchasing power grew up in a world where their vote not only counted, but was courted. They have never known any other reality. Who stays on the island? Who moves on to the next round? The pseudo celebrity that brought us the Kardashians and is reinforced by every kid who uploads a video to YouTube is driving the bus now. If everyone gets his or her 15 minutes of fame, social media makes sure that it goes viral, suspending those minutes in limbo.
So we’re back to the litmus test. Companies that step into the living, evolving stream that is social media stand a chance of survival.
Perfection is not expected. Participation is. Companies who choose to continue cranking out traditional broadcast messaging will find themselves shouting into an echoing, cheeseless room. Count me among those who are willing to get their feet wet.
You can find Molly at TAG Communications in Davenport, IA, where she is the Social Media Liaison in Web Services. This newly-created branch of an established midwest advertising and marketing firm provide her with an opportunity to practice what she preaches as regards social media strategies. Her decades-long experience across media in various capacities inform her perspective (media buyer, production and account management – in print, outdoor, television, radio, online). A true media and advertising junkie, she is endlessly fascinated by the evolutionary nature of how people communicate with each other. Their website is a work in progress, so be gentle, but check them out if you would like. Whatever you do, be sure and follow @mckra1g on Twitter – she’s terrific.