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!