This Will Change Everything… Again

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What do you make of articles that say, "this will change everything for Marketers?"

The truth is, I’m just as guilty as the next Journalist, Blogger and Writer to publish thoughts like that. The truth is, those types of sayings and thoughts are popping up in every form of media a lot more often these days. The truth is, it’s true. We tend to lump everything we see in the digital channels as "Social Media" and it’s probably one of the biggest disservices we can do to the online channels and platforms. YouTube is nothing like Twitter and Twitter is nothing like Facebook, yet businesspeople and Marketers just lump it all together into one big hot tub of fun called, Social Media.

Yes, this will change everything.

Look at it from this perspective: you’re a brand manager producing traditional media (television, radio, print, out-of-home, radio) and the Internet comes along. Suddenly, you have a whole new set of tools and skills that will be needed that are nothing like the unique skill set it takes to optimize what you were doing before. On top of that, the Internet isn’t just one media channel – it’s many different types of media and it spans all types of ways in which to engage with the general public. It’s text, images, audio and video. It’s long-form content, it’s video clips, it’s chatting to your customers, it’s sharing pictures, it’s mass collaborating, it’s Podcasting, it’s online social networking, it’s iPhone apps, and it’s a lot more. Even basic website skills seem a little outdated already.

There are no standards for advertising. There are no standards for content creation.

Sure, places like the IAB – Interactive Advertising Bureau – help publishers and advertisers work together to create some semblance of advertising standards (mostly around display advertising), but as soon as something new crops up (like Foursquare), the whole notion that you can standardize what goes into that channel from Marketing and Advertising perspective is out the window. Just look at what the iPhone and the advent of apps has done to change the Marketing mix (and there are countless other differing examples).

Everything is so different.

Rarely do we really stop, give pause and reflect on how different the role of Marketing has become, and how fast it continues to evolve in the digital channels alone. It’s not like there’s just another new title in the magazine rack and you have to tweak some creative to fit a slightly varied printing size. It’s not even close. Marketers are actually forced to invent what content, communications and advertising should (or should not) look, act and behave in these channels. The platforms are all completely different. How people use them to connect and share is usually very different from one to the other, and there’s zero proof of how a Marketing message will even play out within them.

Standards suddenly seem silly.

The truth is that as each new and different digital channel opens up, we are forced to reinvent the wheel and we are faced with a scenario where what we have to do is totally and completely different. It would be interesting to see how many other industries are faced with this type of constant and ongoing disruption, innovation, challenge and opportunity.

The first step in succeeding may lie in not treating everything like it’s all the same, while trying to figure out how dramatically different things may be going forward.


  1. Mitch,
    In most cases, strategic communication principles haven’t changed. The tactics are changing on a regular basis as well as who exercises those tactics. The down side, of course, is that everyone is becoming a bit overly tactical in their thinking.
    I love your point, however, in that communicators across the board are working in an environment of constant change. And as a result, becoming tactical experts is rather a silly choice for priorities.

  2. to piggy back on what Richard just said, Social media as my friend Chris mentions, is just another “Media.” Or like Richard says, another tactic. As all forms of media are eventually regulated and controlled, so too may “social” media. The landscape “is” changing and with that so will the means of which how we communicate. Depending on the channel we decide to use, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook or any other communication “tool” it’s the end user who determines the quality of the communication.
    I’ve always said social media will either promote or expose your social skills. I look at these rapidly changing tools as just that, exposing peoples philosophies in communication. Tactics are silly, being human isn’t.
    Good points Richard & Mitch.

  3. Hi Mitch
    An avenue has the potential for generating success but only if used in a way that is tailored to one’s objective. This used to be common sense in traditional media (TV, radio and print all necessitate a different approach).
    Because social media takes place on a common platform – the internet – the overnight marketers seem to be pushing a a one-size-fits-all strategy that doesn’t take into account the different audiences and motivations on each site.
    Since starting my own business and taking more of an active interest in marketing, I’ve noticed that most of the marketers who understand how to use social media have a flexibility that allows them to see opportunities and adapt to changing trends very quickly.
    They’re driven by the underlying objective of their “marketing mission” and look beyond the bright lights and glamour of the latest digital craze to the more mundane aspects of how to get a client to use it effectively.

  4. Give a good carpenter a better hammer and he will build a better house, not just put in more nails. The tools are changing…and its a rather radical change in deed. But there are a lot of very bright and creative people in this industry. Its just a question of time…and besides…even the so called experts are really just experimenting…we are all learning with this stuff. This foursquare thing is quite amusing but its a great example…we will probably never be able to pin the new stuff down…
    Change is good, it makes life interesting…

  5. not like i thought the world marketing it is , in my brain the thing like standarization is always need. But after read your post i realize something that anything is not always like you know. But i still believe that standarization is also important.

  6. I think as marketers we can be prone to hyperbole when it comes to the NEXT! BIG! THING! In fact, I think it’s a human trait just amplified by the fact we work in an industry where the NBT is where everyone wants to be the first to play.
    I generally take those articles with a pinch of salt. The media itself is never really the game-breaker. It’s the way the consumers (the market) perceive it. “Does it fit in with my life? Do I really need another one? What’s in it for me?”
    After all, what’s the point in throwing a party that everyone’s already too busy to attend? But we’ve spoken about that before.
    And that brings me to your point about standards. Speaking semantically, there will always be 2 standards that all marketing must adhere to: quality and relevance – because ultimately no matter the platform, no matter the product, if your message isn’t relevant or of quality, no-one is going to take the time out to care.

  7. I think it is important to see how marketing is changing, it has changed from when I first began and my job title has changed to match the new diverse range of things that marketing as a whole now encompasses. I think that although these social media aspects should not be clumped together for every purposes a lot of the same understanding and knowledge is required to ultimately get results, it is about being proactive with your marketing and digital knowledge and using that in a forward thinking diverse way.

  8. I generally agree with everything being said… I just have my own little divergence. Ultimately, I don’t care what the medium is. My focus is on the content. You can always learn how to use new tools, and each of these tools will have an owners manual. But content, that’s the tricky one because the “people” determine the standards for any particular niche. I think our industry is much more suited to psyhcologists than designers and technologists.

  9. The truth is: content is KING! Teaching people to interact between traditional media and new media is a major challenge. Those who can interweave content between both spaces have the best chance to succeed in tomorrows marketing world. Teaching talent to navigate and create content on line and on air (for those of us lucky to still employ radio personalities) is the new challenge (and opportunity!)…

  10. 25 years ago I had a poster in my dental office that had many rows of green apples in the photo and on one row a single red apple. The caption said, Dare To Be Different. I leaned back then how good different could be. We looked at the contrarian viewpoints of the world and flourished. We zigged when everyone else in Georgia zagged. The result of constant change and upgrading has been repeditively rewarding while simultaneously stimulating growth.
    As Joel Barker said, “When paradigms shift, everyone goes back to the beginning.”
    Because the paradign shifted in marketing with the Internet and the Digital Age, we are flourishing. Because we grasped the dynamic advances in video on the Internet three years ago, we are doing very well even in the down economy. Because we see the future is in Internet Marketing, we now own an internet marketing company…times are changing and the future is now.

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