3 Jan 2010

What is the marketing problem that Social Media solves?

Ok, for a moment, let's assume that the Advertising landscape has indeed changed. And that Social Media is the future of Advertising (or the most significant component in it).

Let's look at what Social Media brings to the table: Feedback. Engagement. Conversation.

But are these really new concepts? No.

Every ad, direct mailer, biscuit packet, credit card, delivery truck, and website comes with contact details. Tollfree numbers. Call centres. Email ids... Opportunities for engagement. (But we know how that panned out!)

So what's different about Social Media? What's the problem that Social Media solves that traditional advertising can't?

Could it be that in a Social Media environment, brands are actually compelled to be more open and sincere? Is the urge to belong (in communities) making brands act more responsibly - and be more responsive? And since out-sourcing and automated replies won't do, is it forcing brands to act more - well, human?

Brands were created by people. They represented communities. Then they grew. And they grew. They became multinational (belonging to many communities). Then transnational (belonging to no communitiy in particular). They merged. They integrated forward and backward. They standardised and they outsourced, till all that was left was a mere logo. And brands became intangible, uncaring instruments for profit-making.

If this is the problem Social Media is addressing. Then, it's a good start. But only a start.

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