Marketing In The Moment
Over the last month I have given a presentation entitled "Marketing in the Moment" at several different interactive conferences, including the SMX Toronto personalization panel, the PubCon Dallas real-time and social panel, and at Search Insider Summit Marketing Strategy panel in Captiva (click here to view the presentation on Slideshare). Today I want to elaborate on this presentation, and discuss how search and social are becoming imperative elements of a holistic marketing strategy, and how organizations must embrace the concept of marketing as an "in the moment" medium.
When I speak of marketers needing to be "in the moment," I am not referring specifically to real-time search, social, or the real-time Web. This refers to becoming fully connected to your audience -- directly and indirectly -- and even more so, also being present and engaging with your audience in a meaningful way.
While brands are becoming increasingly connected, the aspect of being present and acting "in the moment" most often falls by the wayside. As it stands, most major brands spend two to five years in redesigning their static website; they view social media in a campaign-based, start-and-stop manner, and they are getting swung around by their tails by various networks.
Your marketing strategy is only as good as it is right now, on any given day. And "today" is measured by all of the past "right now" moments. What you are doing today is also simultaneously setting up for success in the future.
In considering this scenario of acting "in-the-moment," allow me to paint a picture of the current online landscape:
The changing landscape is not so much about "social networks," as it is about society being networked. In my talk at SIS on April 16, I put this assessment of our social terminology into blunt terms: The phrases "social networks" and "social media" are a disservice to the network medium itself, and sells it grossly short of its potential.
Of course the merits of social media still stand, but it is time to start thinking about this in the bigger scheme of things, with the consideration of the fact that virtually everybody is wired, and that marketers don't need a catchy buzzword that suggest the reinvention of the Internet. EMarketer recently published data stating that there are more than 250 million people online in the U.S. alone. With the world buzzing 24/7, the surfacing reality is that a brand that is not interacting fluidly, or lacks in-the-moment presence, might as well not exist. The compilation of many missed moments in this new landscape will be the death of some brands, and this embracing of "right now" will be the ascension of many others.
The entire Web is evolving into a real-time, networked and synaptic environment. Algorithms and humans are now disseminating published content instantaneously, and the networking of society has hit critical mass. Things are moving so fast online (and will get even faster) that the network is looking more like a living organism every day; one that fires off impulses that cascade throughout its entire being. Not being a part of it, or present "in the moment" is equivalent to non-relevance and non-existence. Furthermore, acting with the agility, fluidity and sincerity to ride with these synaptic connections will be the lifeblood of marketing efforts.
"People" aren't just "searching;" real people are searching for something right now. Behind every search there is a real person with complex problems and search intentions. The term "search" doesn't just mean the Google results page, in fact search is everywhere, in both the online and physical worlds. In search there is also an entirely new opportunity to connect, if not passively, in a profoundly meaningful way with the person you wish to connect with. Future marketing strategies will need to go much deeper in connecting via content in a sincere and useful way, one that will facilitate a connection that fits both you and your target audience. Get past thinking about ranking reports, last click attribution, simple content creation, and even direct response - these are real people who deserve a lot more in what is presented to them in search and content publishing.
In thinking about the entire marketing landscape, it is also worth noting that though search and social are often compared and pitted against each other, these two are entirely different animals, and will co-exist in their own ecosystem, with each giving and taking from the other. So it's time to stop worrying about whether or not search or social will cannibalize each other, because the mindset of the user is entirely different when engaging in each one. Accept that they are different and begin to strategize holistically.
In my next column I will delve deeper into what I refer to as the "simple truths" of a present, and in-the-moment strategy, and how it ties in as an inseparable aspect of marketing as a whole.