A few weeks ago an experienced agency veteran told me that "We are all snakeoil salesman". He was suggested that our discipline is that of selling refreshment by broadcasting that message, even in the absence of a product that actually refreshes.
I beg to disagree.
I could not market snakeoil as anything other than an ironic accessory for hipsters. Because the media world I live in is not one of broadcast messaging (for the most part). I live in a world of conversation. Broadcast messaging has it's place, but in my world, conversations cannot be bought or sold.
Conversations cannot be generated or seeded, they cannot be created by a brand or media property with white space alone. Conversations can only be inspired, participated in and fostered. You cannot force me to talk. You're welcome to join my table. But if you would like me to share your message, you're going to have to earn my advocacy (for the most part).
There is no 30 second spot equivalent in social media. There is no easy mass appeal solutions. There is no superbowl for social media.
Your microsite may have become a Facebook application, your widget may now be an iPhone app, but without cultivating a meaningful presence or relationship, without tying your efforts to a campaign and your campaign to a brand and your brand to a relationship, what have you accomplished?
This weekend, millions of us will watch brands gamble millions of dollars on fantastically overproduced commercials interrupted by what is often a less than exciting football game. We will sit glued to the screen as Coca Cola releases their newest expression of excitement, Doritos shows off yet another prosumer inspired vision and beer companies attempt to make us laugh by (a) creating comically awkward social situations or (b) utilize animals as actors in non-traditional settings (hilarious, that one always gets me). We will see 3 million dollar creative gambles. And as always, most will fall short of their promise, leaving only a few memorable spots that may be discussed in the weeks ahead.
But for mass reach, there is nothing like the Superbowl.
30 second spot in the superbowl is only as meaningful as
(a) it is
(b) your follow through you offer the day after.
Would your company, client or brand be better served by investing $3 million on mass eyeballs or $3 million in sustainable relationships, in better customer service, in truly remarkable social responsibility? And if you are investing in the former, don't you owe it to yourself to invest equally in the latter?
If you need to drive awareness with everyone, make a big splash. Go for broacast TV (and online video).
But if you want to drive your business in the long term, think beyond the splash. Earn your marketing.
Because social isn't free, and while it may be intuitive, it sure isn't easy to get going. Nobody can market snakeoil in this social world. And no, there is no social Superbowl, no way to buy millions of eyeballs for millions of dollars.
Don't substitute shortcuts for marketing. Use them only when appropriate.
Don't just broadcast, kickstart and converse.