In the age of Tinder, constant Twitter, and the “Instafamous”, social media is often shunned as the frilly side of marketing and only relevant when trying to connect with Gen Y. But the marketers who overlook this incredibly relevant medium in favour of, for example, more traditional email marketing, or maybe just dip their toes into the odd promoted Facebook post here and there, are missing out on a world of connections waiting to be explored.
Because of social’s vital place within the digital marketing landscape, Social Media Week (SMW) is now a worldwide institution with conferences taking part throughout the year from Milan to Mexico City, and Lagos to London. This year’s global theme of ‘Upwardly Mobile’ tackled not just the rise in mobile content but also how that content can be effectively utilised in order to really connect with the user.
We all know the (slightly cliché) paradigm of “Content is King”, however, one of the most prevalent themes emerging at this year’s SMW wasn’t just the importance of content. We all need this steady stream of media on our channels (of course), but just churning out a deluge of endless “stuff” is not good enough for an audience who have had enough. Today’s audiences, especially those elusive millennials, are savvy to any kind of forced brand message. They can sniff the hard sell a virtual mile off, and so brands and marketers, need to rethink their tried and tested practises.
But how can you engage those who are in front of a never ending stream of media and brand messages 24/7; how do you cut through all that noise? Emotion. Basic human reactions. According to musician and live streaming aficionado, LJ Rich, “the future is shared experiences”. It’s this idea that’s seen the rise of apps such as Meerkat and Periscope; people around the world sharing whatever it is that they’re doing, then and there. These platforms give anyone the opportunity to create (and, in Meerkat’s case, co-create) shared experiences that engage huge audience numbers due to their real, emotional nature. Sarah Drinkwater, Head of Google’s Campus London, reiterated this point saying, “people don’t want to buy stuff, they want to buy into experiences”. We’re so lucky to live in an age where opportunities, both on and offline, are so readily available to us, but what the virtual world now has to really encapsulate goes back to the heart of where civilisation began; with someone eliciting a laugh, or maybe tears, from their audience.
Hannah Beesley of Iris Worldwide, in her talk ‘Pizza, Tinder and Lols’ also touched on the necessary emotion needed, especially when connecting with millennials, as “just for lols is never just for lols”. This humour that brands have utilised so well in successful campaigns is so much more than just a quick titter–it makes you human and relatable and that is the future for any marketer.
Before you start to rethink your whole digital strategy, content is by no means dead, but going forward we all need to stop thinking as brands, and start thinking as the humans that we are. We need to find a brand voice and see how that can be used in the most authentic way possible when interacting, either directly or indirectly, with our consumers. Afterall, “you wouldn’t accept [an insincere message]from a friend, so why accept it from a brand”, (Gav Gordon Rogers, Lost Boys).
|By Charlotte Stringer|
Photo credit header and homepage pic: ©Dan Taylor-Heisenberg Media