Social Media Marketing and Darwin: Can Marketers Evolve?

The media landscape has evolved tremendously over the last quarter century. Consumers have evolved even faster with the advent of high-speed Internet-enabled mobile devices and social media. Have your marketing efforts evolved with them?

Marketing at the peak of the television era was relatively simple. There were broadcast shows that could give brands tremendous reach. There were also a growing number of cable channels that allowed smaller brands to afford broadcast advertising that could be delivered to more precise audience segments. It was easy for media agencies to find your target, and almost as simple to measure the response.

Now we’re in an era of continuous messaging that ultimately is tremendously fragmenting. Everyone is clamoring for consumers’ attention, from TV and Web content they’re genuinely interested in, to an onslaught of thoughts and activities of friends and relatives, posted via every social media channel. Additionally, consumers are smarter and savvier in their use of the extensive toolset that the Internet provides to make more informed decisions.

As a marketer, how do you possibly compete for attention within this constant stream of information? The answer: You don’t.

How do you speak to consumers who don’t want to hear traditional marketing messages? The answer: Give them what they want to hear, not what you want to tell them.

Competing for attention is simply no longer sustainable. It worked when you were basically interrupting what your target audience was doing—watching TV. Marketers can no longer program consumers with advertising; instead, now your imperative is to attract people through unique content and authentic brand experiences.

As a marketer, you need to identify the various vehicles for conveying messages to consumers, and then constantly measure engagement, as defined by each brand, at multiple touch points. Are you delivering value at this point of contact? Are you establishing a connection with the customer? Are consumers entering conversion pathways that lead to sales opportunities?

To succeed, you’ll need to understand where your brand fits into your customers’ lifestyles, become a member of those conversations and/or communities, and continually evolve your advertising efforts into opportunities to engage and connect.

There’s certainly no silver bullet approach. Content will be different for every brand. But this can be quite liberating, as you’ll have to become more comfortable with who you are as a brand and how you define success for your business—standing for what you believe in and developing content that’s consistent with the product and values that will attract others.

Everything is pointing to digital technologies and social media, even in offline experiences. The next generation of retail is a blended in-store experience enhanced by digital technologies. Is your business making the necessary steps to advance to the next stage of this marketing evolution? Are you working to get in sync with your consumers?

Sound daunting? It shouldn’t. Remember: There was a time when no one was email-marketing. And it’s hard to remember when selling products online used to be a foreign idea.

Consumers led the way then, as they’re leading into mobility and Internet-enabled devices now. Wherever they’re taking these devices, that’s where you’ll need to be—learning more about your customers preferences, and using that data to inform marketing decisions. It will be survival of the fittest—you just need to get in shape a different way.

Paul Dunay, CMO, Networked Insights

2 comments about "Social Media Marketing and Darwin: Can Marketers Evolve?".
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  1. Joe Bencharsky from iNet Entertainment, October 22, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.

    Paul, have you been bugging our marketing meetings?

    I've been talking about this for a couple of years. Marketers are still using the Radio/TV disruptive model in an interactive world. The tech has existed to bring audiences in, collaborate with them, and enhance the viewer experience through intertextual links and commerced-based information. But the Marketing minds seem firmly entrenched in the 1980's.

    The corporate world doesn't get social media because they are afraid. Preferring to reside behind the thick walls and parapets they built 30 years ago with voicemail to avoid anyone behind the wall from coming into contact with their clientele.

    Now with Social media and interactive digital models, they need to step out and engage. A fearsome prospect! But that fear leads to massive missed opportunities for companies to take the lead and embrace the trends. It's happening in small ways, but no one has really embraced the opportunity.

  2. Paul Dunay from NETWORKED INSIGHTS, October 25, 2011 at 6:26 a.m.

    @Joe - no i havent been bugging your meetings - but perhaps thats a sign that we are coming to a breaking point now in traditional marketing. Facebook has gone on record saying to marketers - the future is all about engagement so get out there and start engaging with our platform. I feel that marketers arent prepared to do that just yet - they are still trying to pacify anyone who says something negative in social. They need to get beyond that and find a way to read the DATA in social media and become more engaging to their customers. We are still at the beginning of this road! Thanks for commenting Joe!

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