Is there a social media saturation point?

Not everything is worth sharing.
Not everything is worth sharing.

Social Media survives on people living and announcing loudly their lives on all the different platforms for that is the content that people log in for. The whole thing relies on people announcing the good and the bad thats going on in their lives for the amusement and bemusement of others, which is ok for kids who have little concept of privacy or need for it but as you age privacy becomes more important and making all your decisions and whereabouts public becomes more expensive (employers, family, people whose opinion matters) e.g. partying pics, too many selfies, regular bar check-ins, drunken status updates they can come back to haunt you.

Now there are those who would argue that in todays age even bad behaviour is acceptable and quite de rigueur if you want to stand out from the clutter. This is suitable for celebrities and reality TV stars but for working professionals it can be the death knell.

Already we are seeing a tapering off from social media usage because of perceived fallout and user burnout. Not everyone is reliving their partying days (or nights) as vociferously as they were before as a result of the reality that your employer might have access to the same information. Does this mean social media is close to its saturation point?

Naysayers would argue that Humans are social creatures and will always need to communicate and socialize, this is a given but the preferred medium for distributing a message is constantly changing and forever fluid. Once it was vocal traditions, then a written tradition and now a digital written/audio/video tradition but just as those platforms have outlived their purpose so must this.

So no doubt that social media has a saturation point, the big question is when will it come and will it be a sudden (a new platform) or gradual (slowly losing members and fading out) decline.

Social media biggest plus (it’s global reach) is also it’s biggest flaw (privacy is lacking).

The old adage : keep your cards close to your chest flies in the face of active social media participation and hence might be it’s achilles heel.

As if to prove me right – this article is in todays Nytimes –! 

Stories sell..

Why this will never work.

Advertising and Marketing is sales. It’s not one-on-one sales, it’s sales via a brochure, a radio spot, a tv ad or a billboard, but it’s sales. It convinces a large group of people to buy a service or product through the story conveyed via the chosen marketing medium.

We’ve used stories to help sell ideas, products, services, political movements, revolutions, uprisings and everything else from time immemorial. E.g. The story of a fruit vendor who immolated himself led to the Arab Spring, Dove uses Testimonials (stories) to prove and build trust that their product moisturizes skin, Coke shows us stories where people “Enjoy Coca-Cola”, Axe shows us stories where before using the product the protagonist couldn’t secure a date but after using it he has the “Axe Effect”.

It isn’t just CPG products – Car companies regularly use stories of status or adventure, Politicians use Joe the plumber or Mary the single mom working 2 jobs… Everyone uses it to pitch and sell an idea.

The length of the story never really mattered it was always about the content, but in order to establish a story one needs a little time to build and weave the message into the story. There’s been a concise-ing of the story in the past 50 years or so. Before the print medium most stories were told via verbal form and were one-to-one or one-to-many recitals.

With the advent of print we told a sales story via long copy, but then long copy died because we could tell a story in a shorter period of time through an image and supplementary body copy.

Then came the TV spot and we told stories in 30 seconds. Now we have Social Media and it’s ever shrinking format 15 seconds on instagram vs. 6 Seconds on Vine, From status updates of 140 characters to hashtag’s its all taking a toll on the quality of the story.

As marketers ask themselves how to fully utilize the reach and power of new media and technology, the biggest obstacle will be how to tell a convincing story in this ever shrinking format.

Some would argue that in a short attention span generation this is not a concern. I would argue the attention wanders only when the content is boring, the same consumers we say have small attention spans tend to spend a lot of time on things they like e.g. video games, blogs that interest them etc. If your content speaks to them they will read it / watch it / hear it / interact with it.

Moral of the story: We’ll always need a story to sell a service or product and you’ll always need a little time to craft a good story that sells.


Hot Stuff
Even an Iron is Hot, that doesn't mean you latch onto it.

The Latest trend in marketing is Newsjacking. Using a current trending news story and attaching one’s product / service to it and riding the social media wave.

When done well and when there is a clear connect between story and product I am not against this, but to simply try and attach a brand to an unrelated or irrelevant news occurrence is both irresponsible to the brand and annoying to the audience.

I hope to see greater restraint from brand custodians in the future than to simply use reactionary tactics as this does not further the brand’s strategy or business goals and does little to increase brand salience.

Freedom the most misused F word

President Obama is about to rekindle the debate on the economy and hopefully take some credit for bringing it back from the dead. In this time we can surely expect Republicans to play the ignorance game and deny that the crisis was the making of their faulty policies.

For those who dispute that Obama inherited the economic crisis and has brought the US back. May i suggest they watch this video which will allay all opposition : Yeah sure we know the economy!

As far as the cause goes: every market like every playing field requires umpires / referees, It’s silly to think that players will self-check themselves! That’s why I believe there needs to be greater emphasis on permanently strengthening the financial sector by implementing greater regulation. Economists know that there is no free lunch: there is always a tradeoff and this case is no exception.

Greater Stability comes at the cost of Slower Profits and Growth!

Good marketing can influence and change public opinion and in this case it has attached a notion of freedom to less regulation which only the most naive of citizens would consider a viable, logical argument.

The Near Future.

The Near FutureNowadays Big Data seems to be the buzz word of the year! We hear how it’s going to change our lives and change the way marketers address consumers.

One of Big data’s most important applications for marketers is that it uses consumer data (buying habits, location, routine, routes etc) to better target and better inform (relevant) consumers about deals, sales, location based needs (umbrella’s for a sudden rain shower, water fountains on heat-wave days, mall maps downloaded to your phone etc.)

Privacy concerns will have to be addressed and marketers will have to learn the fine line between helpful and creepy (there will surely be some mis-steps).

Ogilvy (my old agency) gives you a peek into the near future (all the technology shown in the video is up and running) and how big data will manifest itself into users lives once companies have fully integrated it.

A bit heavy on the consumerism but that’s a bigger debate.

Climate change is a young persons problem!

Does anyone know of a study/poll that breaks down climate believers and deniers by age group? I have a creeping suspicion that the deniers will tend to be in the higher age groups and most of the variables/reasoning that leads to the skewed data will not be based on scientific information but on the premise that to accept climate change would mean a tacit acceptance that their generation is somewhat responsible for the climate’s current state of affairs.

Sadly their denial is leading to inaction which in turn is compounding the problem. There’s no gain in blaming and no one knows that more than the one’s who will be left with a broken planet. Insecurity=Inaction. I think a study could help resolve the differences and lead to united action on the environmental front.

We must not let those who covet the coin destroy the tree to gain it.

Image Courtesy: ScienticAmerican

Banksy’s take on Advertising

Being an Adman myself, I can understand Banksy’s ire at the profession.

It can at times be a hollow one filled with it’s fair share of insecure individuals who are over-compensating for that insecurity with imaginary renditions of beauty, society, family anything we aspire towards. Working in advertising you’re always told the one secret to success is flexible morals. Seems like a sad way to make a living!

Advertising makes creatives a tad bitter too, cause it’s perhaps one of the few creative arts where the creator is not free to do as he/she pleases. Rather they must take instructions and perform to someone else’s subjective preferences i.e. The Client.

Artists, Musicians, Film Makers have the majority of creative control and final say on their work. In advertising that final control lies with the client and as you can imagine it breeds frustration and resentment.

In advertising’s defense though, I think banksy is giving it too much credit for influencing the public at large’s perceptions. IMHO there is a backlash to advertising and it’s messages. We have or are soon reaching a point where advertising messages are droned out and no longer the influencers they once were. Societal norms are changing and admen are no longer defining them but chasing them.

The credibility of advertisers has taken quite a beating in this media messaged generation, nothing a brand puts out is taken as gospel. In fact it is put to intense scrutiny and suspicion cause consumers are savvy enough to realize that a brand’s not paying for (media) messages that do not serve it’s purpose. Dove never ran a negative testimonial, Car companies never publicize their failures, FMCG companies don’t talk about the health hazards.

But now they all are – Coke has an ad that speaks about it’s initiative to control diabetes in America, McDonalds wants to answer questions about its food, Dove wants women to be themselves, the list is long and Hooray for that!