Social media can change marketing for the better — forever

The juncture between an old and a new year is a time for reflection and evaluation.  So forgive me if I wax philosophical about my wishes and vision for social media and marketing as we enter the new year.

At the risk of sounding airy-fairy, moon eyed and idealistic, I’ve been playing around in my mind with the notion that social media and online communities will be the platforms for a new, better type of marketing.  Marketing that is truly transparent and honest, that acts with integrity — always.  That truly respects the intelligence and humanity of the “consumer.”  That will raise the title of “marketer” in the public’s mind at least a few rungs up from its current ranking slightly above used car salesman as the grungiest, most lowly of professions.

I would hope that more and more marketers begin to recognize that honesty and transparency are more than simply virtuous.  In a digitally-connected world that enables people to find out in a flash the truth about products, brands and the companies behind them, these values are good, even essential, for the future of their business.

But whether they do so will depend on whether consumers continue to step up to the plate in greater numbers.  To demand integrity and transparency from brands and corporations.  To demand that companies engage with them directly via social media channels and tools, monitor and listen to their questions and concerns, collaborate, take their suggestions seriously, and respond.  To use the community and sources of information about brands that are now so easily accessible on the internet to determine whether a marketer is being truthful about their product claims, their employment policies, their treatment of suppliers, their sustainability  efforts.  To spread the word and connect with others via the web when they’re unhappy or delighted with something a marketer says or does.

Thanks to the unprecedented access to information and the ability for people to support each other on questions of mutual importance via the web 2.o internet, consumers are truly more empowered than ever before in their relationships with brands and the companies that market them.  As they exercise that power more and more, marketers will also have to step up to the plate.  They will need to practice marketing that lives up to a much higher standard of integrity, honesty and transparency than was required in the past.  And that will be a very good thing — for business, for consumers and for society as a whole.

Happy new year!

7 Comments

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7 responses to “Social media can change marketing for the better — forever

  1. The old method of advertising is interactive marketing. The term is misleading. Most people think it means that there is some type of interaction on the part of the person advertised to, and there is. But, it is not conversational. Instead, the advertiser wants you to interact with their campaign in a specific set of steps. Following the call to action and visiting a website for instance. It’s the push to make you do something. Live this image. Buy this now.

    Social Media Marketing is just the opposite. It’s the pull of the tribe. The tribe already has your trust so the actions they take are ones you align with. On a larger scale, it’s the allure of belonging in the group as you take action together. “I am doing this so why don’t you do it with me?” On an individual level, the attraction is to behave the same way to get the same results that benefits your fellow tribeswoman or tribesman. “She looks hot! I want to look hot too. I want to go to her hairstylist” and you do. Social Media Marketing uses the power of attraction.

    While advertising tries to use the same tactic, with a billboard for instance, of a gorgeous woman telling you the benefits of the salon, it doesn’t have the same impact because it’s pushing you to go. It is not pulling you in as a trusted friend. Your friends have your best interests at heart and advertisers do not. Social Media Marketing is based on building trust and that foundation will make Social Media a dominant player in Marketing.

    • Stephen Rothman

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I question how, or if, the dynamics of the tribe apply to products and brands with more mass market appeal. The tribe examples I’ve heard tend to be around more niche products, services or other entities. What do you think? And I guess inherent in my post is the notion that in a world where consumers are enabled to connect and shape brand perceptions like never before, marketers that have both the best interests of the company and the best interests of people at heart will be the ones with the greatest success.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Great post!

    Made me think that in the world you describe, ‘marketing’ itself is perhaps not needed. The word just doesn’t seem right somehow.

    It was always the connection between the brand and the consumer/sale. But in this era of instant communication, and connections, etc. as you describe, to be an effective ‘marketer,’ you can actually just BE the company. Not the ‘marketer.’ They are merging and becoming one. The ‘marketer’ lies within the company now.

    BE the fantastic company that makes a great product or offers an exceptional service.

    Or else.

  3. Stephen Rothman

    Hi Susan, great thought — what could be the new expression for “marketer” in the social media age?

  4. 2bnmaine

    Hi Steve — I’m not such a big fan of labels. But what we’re all doing these days, and the power of social media is connecting. But with that comes the obligation of integrity. Hmm. — Susan

  5. Hi Steve, I was logged in differently. So here it is again —

    Hi Steve — I’m not such a big fan of labels. But what we’re all doing these days, and the power of social media is connecting. But with that comes the obligation of integrity. Hmm. — Susan

  6. Pingback: A Hippocratic oath for managers — is it an idea whose time has come? « Steve’s Social Media Soapbox

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