The last several weeks have brought to the US unprecedented breaking news cycles, wide-scale closures, cancellations and postponements. Groups of people are not supposed to be larger than 10 people in one place at a time. The travel industry is flipped on its head, restaurants and bars must rely completely on take-out or delivery, movie theaters are closed, sporting events are on hold, students everywhere are either navigating an elongated spring break or familiarizing themselves with online learning, and just about everyone is trapped inside. The stock market has tanked causing massive losses that could take years to recover. Supermarkets are open and operating, but with a disrupted supply chain of many household items due to our society’s selfish doomsday panic-mode copycat behavior. If anything, this is online streaming services’ time to shine. The toll on just about everything as we know it could be massive and long-lasting. But, we will still need to move on.
It’s mid-2018. The social media brand boom was roughly 8 or 9 years ago (depending on who you ask). Social networks themselves have come and gone. We brand marketers survived the “Overwhelming Era” from about 2011 – 2014 when it seemed like a new network, platform or community-driven website was popping up every month as the new craze, and as a marketer during this time, the need to explore all these options was very real. Hence the overwhelming part. We were all seeking “engagement.” So here we sit, several years later. These platforms have grown up and evolved. But why haven’t what marketers call success in this space followed suit?
When the Wu-Tang Clan released their new album in 2015, ‘Once Upon A Time in Shaolin,’ it was met with an immense amount of hype. The year prior, a double CD of the album was stored in a vault at a hotel in Morocco, you know, as one does with a new album. But this wasn’t any album drop – they only released one copy. ONE. And that single double-disc sat inside of a vault in northern Africa until a rich kid bought it at an auction for $2 Million. It was unattainable to the nth degree. It was as much an innovative music launch strategy as it was a wild PR and marketing stunt. And it got people to notice, with social chatter skyrocketing for several months after the album’s initial announcement.
I’ve been doing marketing in some fashion, at different levels and in varying fields and industries for over 10 years. I’ve led brand initiatives, social media and content marketing strategies, advertising and media plans, experiential campaigns and activations, influencer programs, and a range of other digital endeavors, to name a few. And I’ve done it on both the client and agency side. From this decade-plus of time and the many experiences I’ve lived through – I’ve found one above-all-others truth in marketing today…
Brands are too often consumed with the idea of getting (forcing) consumers to participate in whatever it is they’re trying to get across, whether that be a campaign or an activation of some kind, numbers in a loyalty program, or even a hashtag. But what brands too often fail to realize, is that people really don’t care about your brand and your campaign. Your brand isn’t special. They care about things that matter to them, their lives, their interests, their community.
The headline itself might raise a few eyebrows or create frustration. How could a digital marketing team in this digital age be…outdated? That question is especially true considering there are still many companies and brands out there that are somehow just jumping on board the whole “we should get digital” train; in late 2016. Sometimes the barrier or delay was due to budgets, resources, or strategic direction, and sometimes it was because they were just…late to the party.
Consumer brands on social media are not a new thing, in fact, the brand “boom” on channels such as Facebook and Twitter was about seven years ago. In those seven-ish years we’ve seen social platforms grow up, go public, and become huge legitimate businesses. Their users have grown up and adapted as well, as have those users’ expectations and behaviors, how they consume content, and where and when they consume it. So it comes as no surprise that brands have had no choice but to keep evolving on social media, too, if they want to reach the right people with their messaging, stories and content, and make those stories matter.
Big branding news today – Budweiser is going to be changing the name of their beer, literally, to “America.” Pretty much my entire life, even years before I threw back cold ones on a regular basis, I associated Bud with America as that’s just how it always felt. The vibe. The story. America. That was all up until 2008, when Anheuser-Busch merged with a Brazilian brewer and Belgian brewer, and landed its global headquarters in Leuven, Belgium.
I recently wrote about advice I would tell myself 10 years ago, when I was entry-level, clueless of my future, surroundings, and about what being a professional adult meant. So naturally it next feels right to take it forward and dive into where I want to be in another 10 years. So, at the 20th year of my career, what will I be doing? What impact will I have made? Where will I be? My ten year point currently feels like a good time to reflect…into the future.