A recent report from McKensey suggests that social technology has been the fastest adopted form of media in history but we are still only scratching the surface of its potential. Social technologies are no longer merely a “new media platform,” but an increasingly necessary business tool and enterprise is lagging seriously behind in using social technologies both internally and externally.
You only have to look at where marketing dollars are spent to see just how far enterprise has to go in terms of matching consumer behaviour.
Traditional advertising still dominates marketing spend. But for how long? Here in the 21st Century to make those sales, you have to make connections. The On-Demand Brand quotes AKQA’s Chairman, Tom Bedecarré: “There are a lot of advertising people who want to hang onto the past, want to hang onto 30-second television commercials and full-colour magazine ads. [But] you [now need to] have software engineers and technology people as part of the creative team if you want to connect with what people are doing.”
Social media allows advertising to invade our lives in a way that has never been available before. A few years ago how I felt about a great book I had just read or a quirky lunch place I had found would only travel as far as my circle of friends. Today giving an innocent thumbs up on a Facebook product page can be read around the world as an endorsement by yours truly.
Personal recommendations can work in a totally scalable way. Since the beginning of time advocates have been the best way to advertise a product. Social media is now allowing brands to find those advocates and nurture them in interesting ways. (I do hope this means the easy, unimaginative way most brands simply pay a celebrity to promote the product may just diminish overtime!)
Advertising in its purest form is even beginning to sound old fashioned. AKQA founder and CEO Ajaz Ahmed puts it best: “Instead of interrupting people, serve them and make them feel something. Sorry but that takes longer than 30 seconds!”
However today television still gets the majority of the advertising spend. Will that change? TV remains unparalleled in its ability to create customers or reinforce loyalty. Imagine the results when social media and television combine. Web-like ad technologies will transform TVs targeting, potentially growing its efficiency and the number of advertisers. The ability to offer up personalised advertising may not be that far away. Add to this the ability for interaction with a second screen (hands up all of you who watch TV and surf at the same time) and the potential for brand expansion is immense. There are already some interesting two–way technologies that enable brands to tag products in programmes/advertising so consumers can easily find out more information or make a purchase.
Big opportunities exist for companies who are building social technologies and unlocking the value for the enterprise. However brands and agencies also need to step up and embrace all that is new and innovative rather than rely on the more traditional routes open to them. Is it time that the old silos of Advertising, PR and Digital are merged into one big budget called Social?! Maybe not but if organisations continue with traditional departments – they may well get left behind.
Here in the UK we have long been dominant in advertising. To stay on top we need to embrace technologies that help brands continue to engage with their customers in ways that match consumer behaviour.
At Collider12, a new digital accelerator, we are looking for startups who are developing technologies in this space. In return, you get investment, mentoring and connections into some of the forward thinking brands who are looking for new innovation. See www.collider12.com
Do you have a great idea for a new social technology? Has your brand fully embraced social media? I’d love to hear from you.
And finally a plug for Ajaz’s new book that I mention in the blog – Velocity – it's brilliant.
Rose Lewis is a partner at Pembridge Partnership Ltd, which invests and advises businesses in the marketing, media and technology sector. Rose champions and advises early stage companies on fund raising and mentors founders through their early company development.
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