I saw the image below in my Instagram feed the other day and it made me think. A lot.
It made me think that what I do for a living is not always appreciated.
More importantly, it taught me something. It taught me there are some wonderful people, yes, some of them even marketers, who will stick their necks out for the sake of innovation and invention, who may also go unappreciated. Take this Instagram post as an example. As of now, there were 162 comments on it, of which I would say 97% of them being negative. Many complaining of the very nature of ads being thrust upon them by the platform. Others stating that it was a waste of money because they couldn’t see themselves being able to afford a Mercedes. Whatever their reasons, they were not happy. For an instant, it cast a doubt for me as to the potential success of advertising on this social network. Luckily, I quickly noticed the 4,600+ “likes” that the post also received. Does that validate the medium? Should your ad piss off 3% or more of the people that saw it? Is there a better way?
Well, that question lead me to another learning.
Often times, we have to try to engage an audience and fail miserably. To me, they are not complaining, they are showing us the way. They are showing us the desired path. We can play architect and engineer as much as we want, but the consumer will carve their own route – then we have to leverage it. We have to be pioneers on their trail.
Think about how content is now being simulcast to a smartphone while watching the big screen. No one invented that. That was a knee-jerk response to the iPhone in the living room and folks not paying attention to ads. Some of us got it right. Some of us are still trying. And there are a ton more examples where the pioneers have travelled. In the case of Mercedes? Perhaps the platform needs to work harder at isolating the target more effectively. Or maybe the advertiser needs to understand its audience better, appreciate the sensitivities of a “personal” social space and do something in its delivery or message to address that. Their audience is telling them how to get to them. All they have to do is keep listening and keep pioneering. If you look at what Snapchat is doing with their new Discover platform, it puts pushing out a message into a whole new context. I would love to speculate that this is but a segue to monetize the platform through advertising – and I’m probably right. Lots of meaty editorial content for kids of all ages. I guarantee you that we marketers will find ways to penetrate those tv channels, errr, “media streams”. If you need a break from reading, have a look: Snapchat Discover Platform.
You back? Okay.
I remember an interview I did a while back where one of the questions was about predicting the future of digital marketing. Have a look at my answer to their Question #6. Wow, was I right on the money, or what? In essence, the same applies here. All of “this” is just marketing, social or otherwise. It all now exists together in this smouldering soup. We just have to continue the hustle to stay on top of it and maybe even one step ahead. And when the end audience asks you to “add a pinch of salt”, it might be worth a real listen. Whatever the solution, looking back, I really do not think it is a simple issue of intrusiveness. I believe it to be more an issue of understanding, of trying new things and new ways, and being completely prepared to fail. So long as you are quick to adapt and apply your learning, you will do just fine. In fact, way better than fine.
I salute these brave pioneers. They are shouldering the burden of our education – and when the rest eventually pick up the ball and run with it, it will already be a little deflated. (too soon?). The pioneers, having already made a thriving settlement, will be venturing out to the next greener pasture.
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