3 things about Digital Marketing I learned while on summer vacation
I just returned to the office after a week away and relatively unplugged. By “unplugged,” I mean I stopped checking work email regularly, but I did continue to check in on and feed my social media channels. Something else I found myself doing even more while “unplugged”, I used my phone to answer all sorts of riveting questions the group could throw at me. Trivia, history, instructions, trends, people, news, weather, facts etc. I also thought hard about what value Digital Marketing brings (or should bring) to the wide variety of people it is meant to target. The information I was seeking + the content I was finding. It had to have value.
This is also what I learned. We are all in the weeds. We are busy, stressed and overloaded. We all want content that entertains, assists or informs, and we want it on our terms and in our language. We are debatably selfish.
More specifically I noted 3 things:
It isn’t about your product, it is about your brand.
I saw my fellow vacationers glued to their phones and tablets, thumbing through their favorite brands and fans. I listened to them all complain when a brand was “selling” and when a brand was “wasting THEIR time” with product attributes or celebrity endorsements. However, they reacted most favorably when the content was either editorially relevant or told a larger story of lifestyle and brand value. Many studies do show that people (especially those labeled as Milllenials or Gen Z) are gravitating toward brands that are doing something beyond selling.
The focus should be on storytelling, not sellingtelling.
If you have patience and build a community instead of just a customer database, you will have finally tapped into that magical word of mouth network you wanted to buy a few months ago.
But this time, it’s real and authentic and it spreads.
It isn’t about a particular channel.
Sure, Snapchat is popular and Instagram Stories is a valid method of storytelling and Facebook does provide endless scrolling through your closest 900 friends and branded content, but guess what? 96% of people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles. So, this means that brands have to be discoverable and relevant in the intended audiences feed, in search and in thought leadership or category acceptance — do they belong and are they are respected? Algorithms, paid targeting, geolocation and push messaging all apply. To get in front of the audience, a brand must be speaking the language of the audience, when the audience expects it. This is why something as simple as a weekly Twitter chat remains useful. This is why the Podcast has become relevant again. Brands that provide a useful presence, socially, will attract more attention than a brand that simply wants to sell more product and ask for likes. A CEO who professes love of a sport, for instance, can publish about that sport, and in return, generate interest from an audience that otherwise might not have that particular brand in their consideration set.
I want to learn from that person.
I want to listen to them.
I want to buy what they sell.
It isn’t about quantity.
In this era of “Gemstone” marketing, people are beginning to expect that a brand whose focus is on a particular topic, take the time to produce content that differentiates and dominates. Not only is a brand looking for “Gems” in audience models, but in return, people want content that stands out. Take a brand like Nike, for example. They are making content worthy of framing. This approach takes social media WAY BEYOND the thumbstopping power of a GIF and starts inserting a brand into conversation, sharing and true brand affection.
What Nike is doing is really the way all brands should use the digital marketing available to them so that they are creating not only products but service and value to keep people engaged and buying from them. They use their social media channels to raise awareness, answer people’s questions, show video, and allow people to share their results, via the Nike + website. There, they offer the consumer more Nike gear tailored to that individuals activity.
This allows the brand to seemlessly plug into the consumers lifestyle in a valuable way, to empower the consumer to buy, rather than the brand to sell.
Pound for pound, it is one of the best uses of digital marketing out there.
At the end of it all, I really realized that the harder a brand tries to to sell something, the more skeptical the informed, digital consumer becomes. The brand who is willing to be a media outlet, an entertainer, or a thought leader wins the day and will be the brand who achieves the “sales” ROI they so desperately desire. Ironic.