This probably won’t be a very popular post. March has been a fascinating month in & around the social layer of the web – both in terms of the stories that are being generated & the commercial reality that is emerging.
First up we have the awesome dollar shave club. These guys have a simple, disruptive business idea, presented with the type of sharable humour that makes it a real Trojan Horse.
Then we have the video that has had the world going nuts:
Is any of this March madness connected? Well – on the surface no.
But maybe it tells us a little more than we like to admit to ourselves & about the way we consume news, information & place value on stuff today. In short how we view things & connect it to what’s really important: taking action. The guardian articulate this in their brilliant new spot (also from March):
Things aren’t always what they seem. Context is the most important thing. See the below from the Guardian back in the 80’s:
Just because we have more channels than ever & it doesn’t mean that we should forget to make up our own mind. Take Kony 2012. 90million views. But how many lobbyists pose with weapons with militia groups?
How many also have public meltdowns, running about naked in a San Diego car park committing a ‘sex act’.
So consider this guys fragile mental state & the 90million people that lapped up the video. They shared the selected views of what now seems to be a madman. Then also consider – what my childhood friend/Washington advisor Richard Downie has to say on the topic too:
What emerges is that this issue is a complex, multifaceted problem & a sense of perspective is key.
One week ago popular opinion was wondering how it could help get rid of Kony. But unfortunately ‘a Like’ isn’t going to change the world. Particularly when the perspective around what you ‘Liked’ was one sided & the facts are filtered by someone with a screwed up personality disorder.
But what does this have to do with brands & remastered account handlers?
Well – the problems that we face with our clients are often complex & require a lot of perspective too. Just because someone in Idaho has an opinion about the brand & fires out a tweet it this does not mean that brands have to jump into the conversation. Coke has 6million facebook fans. But 4billion people drink the stuff every year (And lets not even go near the caramel coloured cancer scare from the Twitterverse this week). The point is that just because you ‘Like’ something – it doesn’t mean you’ll make money from it or drive change because of it. In short Engagement is non existent. The social experts will tell me – ‘but you’re missing the point: it’s about awareness’.
The guy who fronts Invisible Children has encountered 2 very different types of global awareness this week. But neither of them have resulted in any agenda changing action. Other than being locked up. Put it this way – even if the world is covered in Kony2012 posters on April 20th I’m skeptical that driving public awareness of this complicated issue is going to result in the right type of action. Removal of Kony has already been official US policy under Obama. And converting these 90million views into something more than a complete waste of time is going to be a huge challenge.
There’s a similar issue that is likely to plague the Twitter IPO. Twitter lost nearly 100m USD last year. It’s a great platform for connecting people & breaking news but just because your brand is being talked about somewhere it doesn’t mean you need to act. If You Tube is the world’s Television set with micro-channel content then Twitter is the worlds water cooler. Unfortunately for Twitter it’s acting that drives the numbers. Adscam has more on what George call’s Social Media Thermofucktardonomics here.
My point is that you need to listen. We all do. But perspective & curation are key to deciding how/when to act.
It’s an old saying but ‘awareness on it’s own is not enough’. I think we’ve seen in March that this is even more of a truism in the remastered landscape.
Engagement is & always will be everything for brands. Awareness is helpful but getting someone to do something is even more important.
In today’s landscape there’s nothing worse than being the type of agency guy/gal that treats the creative process & the methods of engagement like the below:
Or encourages these types of conversations:
We need to remember that just because there’s more ways to be talked about than ever – it doesn’t mean we can ignore the fact that our job is about persuading customers to just maybe/possibly/consider taking some action.
I think the most important lesson the remastered account handler will take out of March is to keep a core responsibility to stay grounded, not get carried away with jargon or the buzz around the next big thing.
To keep a sense of perspective in the team.
Remember the dollar shave guy – he’s better, cheaper, faster. And he makes you laugh. He’s likable. He’s linkable. But above all – he’s commercial. He wants you to act. He’s keeping it simple & asking you to look at things differently. Asking you to look at different angles. Different perspectives. He’s using the dynamics of the landscape rather than tapping a bubble.
Think of him the next time you’re starting up a project. Do you want to do good work? No. The work we want to do is f*cking great.