What a year 2021 has been! We’ve seen a pandemic seemingly out of control, a government unwilling to make unpopular decisions to curtail its growth, and a near overthrow of our democracy. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for 2022!
This is traditionally the time when marketing pundits, a.k.a. the marketing peanut gallery, make their predictions for the year to come. I myself have done this many times in the past in this very column, with astonishing accuracy!
But this year, I am not going to get suckered into the crystal ball game. Instead, I am going to rub the magic lamp I bought on Rakuten. So now the question is: What should I wish for?
I could (and probably should) wish for world peace, a cure to all diseases (if you want to make a donation to the MS society, you’d make my wife and myself very happy), an orderly transition of government, or a closing of the political divide in this country.
But sadly, my magic lamp says “For Marketing Use Only. Limit three. Do not operate while impaired. Batteries not included. The wish provider accepts no responsibility for the consequences of the wishes as granted to the wishee. Made in China." So my choices are limited.
This is not an easy task, but here I go.
Should I wish for social media to go away and never come back? As tempting as that may sound, I don’t think I want to live in that world. As much as social media has created a cesspool of misinformation and time-wasting dance and cat videos, it has also proven to be a helpful and informative platform for consumers. I have used it this past month to solve an administrative problem with the Dutch royal mail and learned how to make crushed oven-fried baby potatoes through a chef’s TikTok. Plus, for every 1,000 (ok, 10,000) stupid videos, there are some really creative and clever people out there who deserve their platform. They make me laugh, or think, or hold my breath.
So I am not going to wish for social media to disappear. Instead, I wish that the owners and boards of directors of these companies grow a pair, swallow their unrelenting thirst for growth at all cost, and start drawing lines and do what is right. That should include banning outright nonsense, instead of labeling it as “this claim is disputed.” “Disputed” sounds as if it could be true but we’re not sure, so maybe, perhaps, possibly this tweet or post could be a load of bull.
Wish No. 2 is that social media becomes more open to marketers. I get the walled gardens and all that from a pure greed point of view. But it's crazy that advertisers can essentially not independently verify the delivery of their ads, which they paid for with their very own money.
My last wish is that social media companies make more efforts for creative effectiveness. Of course, we want to know about eyeballs and cost per click and conversion rates. But I really, really want to know about how digital ads and posts work. Do they build brands? Do they create preference? Do I need to differentiate creative so that it adapts to each touch point while maintaining an overall/holistic message?
Sadly, there is no such magic lamp. My three wishes will not be granted. Back to the grind…