history versus change: why social takes time
buying the hype

why the future won't scale

I'm going to say something that will challenge many of you: the future of social monetization will not scale.  And subsequently, the future of advertising, and possibly marketing overall, will not be about traditional models of scale.  Today's models of buy and drive, rinse and repeat are gone.

  1. Advertising?  Find a solution that works, do it regularly, and people will tune it out.
  2. Sponsored posts?  Do it too often, and people will tune you out. 
  3. Promotions?  Sure, they're fun, but how many times will people retweet a message to win a flip camera?
  4. Viral videos?  9 out of 10 fail to garner significant attention.
  5. Special advertiser supported areas in networks?  Good luck not interrupting/annoying as every brand and their sister jump in with the same concept.

So what are brands to do?  Get creative.  Mix, match and integrate.  Rethink your value prop.  Look at the user experience and market to it.  Don't focus on the spots and dots, focus on the value.  Don't just push people to interact, inspire people to talk, to actively engage.  Don't talk about the long tail, create business models that embrace the flexibility of the long tail.  Don't just look at what worked last year, or what your competition is doing, because it's already been done.  The users may have already moved on and lightning doesn't strike twice.

Most importantly, do not measure your digital success by the immediate scale, but by the projected value of each relationship.  You are not the advertising business, the pr business or the corporate communications business.  You are in the people business.  Your responsibility is to drive value to the brand by communicating and engaging with people, in a manner that drives value to the brand.  Real measurable value.

Value is not about scale.  Remarkable purple cows do not remain unique at scale.  Success is not about scale.  Success is in ROI.  Prove your value.  Prove that you belong at the table. 

  • If you are a traditional marketer, demonstrate the value of your 30 second spot by proving that scaled rich broadcasting can inspire sustainable value. Make your dollars go further.
  • If you are in the sopts and dots online business, prove your value in demonstrating and reinforcing a brand message with a meaningful action.  Prove that your diminishing click through rates deserve their allocated budgets.
  • If you work in "social", you're job isn't any easier. Don't just measure impressions, views or activities.  Prove your value. 
  • If you are in PR, don't just measure share of voice.  Demonstrate meaningful relationships, measurable success, impact on the bottom line.
  • If you are a client lead, don't just lean on your agencies.  Push them to integrate.  Reward catalysts for sensible integration and sustainable innovation.  They are in the business of making themselves look good in your eyes.  You are in the lead to drive your brand success.

Tomorrow's market will not look like today's.  The future of marketing success will not be found using a buy, drive, rinse and repeat.  We need to be thinking in terms of listen and strategize, test and buy/communicate, cultivate, measure and learn models.  Scaled solutions will not equal success.  Value will.