Archives for posts with tag: Consumers

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You are a general. You’ve been trained for decades to fight against your enemies. You launched campaigns for maximum impact. You targeted segments to gain captive audiences. You reflected upon strikeweights and guerilla tactics to do battle, gain market dominance and kill the competition. People are not people, they are reduced to being consumers.

One day, your superior comes to you and says: “We’ve got to continue this battle but we also need to build relationships and foster engagement with “these people”.

As a tired warrior, you get excited about building Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, you develop strategies, editorial calendars, policies, guidelines and deploy staff. After a few months you realize: This social thing is a miserable disaster.

Why?

Look at your language. What words are you using?

Are you allowing people to upload their photos to your Facebook page?

Are you letting people comment on your feed?

Are you permitting people to share their views with you?

Basically, are you grudgingly conceding that people are now an important part of the marketing world but you do it with a scowl, barely tolerating the unwashed masses?

You don’t think people can sense this attitude? Think again.

Invite. Encourage. Entrust. Enable. Recognize. Empower.

To be successful on social platforms, you need to be in the right frame of mind. You can’t just take off your General hat and put on the hoodie. Words you use on social platforms are the expression of this state of mind. If you think about people as pure consumers, as annoying troublemakers, as little children that need your approval and supervision – be prepared to remain a miserable disaster.

People are not receptacles waiting eagerly for our advertising messages – actually they’re often happier living without them. The vocabulary you use undoubtedly affects the way we approach things – both consciously and subconsciously. So, if you want to connect with people, engage them, marketing with them – change your language.

Invite people to get involved.

Encourage them share.

Entrust them with the co-creation of a brand platform.

Recognize their contributions.

Empower them to improve your brand.

Feels different, right?

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A commonly accepted truth is that we live in a snack culture: We devour our cultural input the way we eat sweets and tortilla chips. Bite-size content packages that are easy to digest and allow us to move on quickly to the next cultural snack. A world filled with dumb YouTube stunts, short blog posts and lifestreams. And while we’re entertaining ourselves to death, our old culture filled with thick books and deep, philosophic thoughts is being replaced with vapid content.

As it goes with a commonly accepted truths: It’s just a load of b.s.

Sure, the transformation from consumers to producers has led to an advent of bite-sized content: Blog posts, YouTube videos, Twitter expressions. At the same time, we’ve seen the exact opposite in mass media: Shows like Boardwalk Empire or Lost expects viewers to invest a lot of hours to get the full enjoyment out of them. Movies have gotten much longer, during the holidays season the average movie hoping to win an Academy Award is around 3 hours. Music isn’t limited to 3 minutes anymore because it’s not forced to oblige to the rules of Top 40 radio. Some songs are up 10 minutes long. I’ve heard DJ sets that were more than 12 hours long. Video Games changed from “Pong” to sophisticated games, requiring people to spend a lot of time and energy to master them.

Nostalgia doesn’t move us forward

I grew up in a world of 3 TV channels in Germany, 1 newspaper daily available at the newsstand and many, many books at home and in the library. Since I’m pretty curious, I read “War and Peace” and, yes, even “Ulysses”. And thousands of other books. Frankly, I had no other choices. Besides staring at the wall.

The cultural pessimist in me believes that almost nobody will read these books in the future. There’s just so much more interesting content out there. Thank God, the cultural pessimist in me is almost always wrong. The eternal optimist in me believes that our current feeling of being constantly overwhelmed by information will give way to a feeling of being in control. The challenge is that we feel a sense of excess right now: Internet searches turn up too many results, we continue to add people to our Social Graph, making tools like Twitter almost impossible to deal with. This is a temporary issue. We’re starting to devise ways to cope with the information overload. We will find new ways to select, summarize, and sort, and we will use our human judgment and attention to guide the process.

The reliance on the wisdom of crowds and algorithms has brought us to the point where some feel everything will be bite-sized. New ways of curating and introducing human editors to the mix will help us cope with the avalanche of information. And, who knows, one day we all will read Ulyssess in the subway and not stare at our Twitter feed.

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Image: Courtesy of MusicPhilosophy

This post was featured a few days ago at my weekly column at Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers.

When people were consumers, brands lived in this exclusive universe of commerce and communication meant to sell products through emotions with one end goal: make money. Lots of it.

People are not consumers anymore. This is particularly true when people are online. We have transformed into citizen activists, journalists, lawless pirates, producers, protagonist and, more often than not, curmudgeons. People want much more from a brand than just a good offer, relieving them from the tyranny of too many choices or some fancy lines and images.

People will vote with their wallet for things they believe in rather than just buying stuff. Marketing constructs such as brand image are meaningless in a world where people expect brands to “do” rather than show, sell, spin stories nobody believes in anymore.

Successful brands will become social movements, fully committed to a cause. They will connect with people by either sharing a passion or fighting a common enemy. Brands have to come down from their Ivory Tower of branding and stand shoulder to shoulder with people sharing their passion, and helping each other to co-create and collaborate. A brand that shares my passion and is committed to a cause (We’re talking real dollars here…) will be seen as credible, committed and a real change agent.

Ultimately, we have to redefine the nature of commerce. Profits will continue to be important. Brands that define themselves solely through Wall Street results will not survive. The pursuit of a higher good than just selling stuff will become the admission fee into people’s mind.

We used to look at government programs to better the world, improve our surroundings. The stranglehold of debt will severely reduce opportunities for government institutions to be a change agent. Brands need to step up and become a cultural change agent. They have the monetary power, they have a better organizational structure than any government institution and they understand the power of democracy better than anybody else: Their constituents vote with their wallet not because of some ideology, family history or flawed loyalty.

There’s nothing wrong with making money. But making meaning is so much more powerful.