Strangers when we meet.Advocacy and the changing face of communication.panos papadopoulos, december 2011
Social media has irrevocably changed the rules of engagement incommunication.
In the not so remote past, one-way communication was the lay of the land.
Though content has always been king, it still had to pay lip service to one-waycommunication.
Brands could get away with murder. Communication that lacked substance, but waspackaged right, could potentially win the day.Brands blared out their messages to a more or less captive - and mute - audience.
In the social age, communication is fast changing. Consumers chat andgroupthink, criticize and talk back. And they expect brands to be part of theconversation, to listen and respond.
It follows that if a brand wants to play an active part in the social space, itscommunication must be relevant. Engaging. Emotional. Unconventional.It must be social. A brand must be able to start and sustain conversations.
Otherwise it will be ignored. Or at best it will bescoffed at as “old school”.
Stating the obvious.Brand communication has shifted irrevocably from one-way to two-way.It’s called a conversation.Today, we live to share.
If you can’t make me talk about you, you’re not on my radar.You’re nothing.
To make a long story short.Communication without social content condemns brands tosocial purgatory.
Nonetheless, for the majority of brands, the move from “let me tell you” to “tell me what you think” isproving to be dramatically difficult. That’s because it requires a related change in the mindset of bothmarketeers and admen.
Communication professionals are proving slow in adapting to the revolutionary rule ofthe social regime.
Both agencies and marketeers are eager to dive head-first into the exotic waters of socialmedia without first contemplating a few basic starting points. Have we moved our mindsets from one-way to two-way communication? Are we trying to start conversations with the consumer? Are we speaking in a socially relevant manner? Are we REALLY listening?
Or are we still treating social media as if it was old-school, one-way communication?
The truth is that social media has revolutionized the communication landscape.But not the way we work on brands.
Instead of investing time and effort putting old wine in new bottles,instead of serving one-way communication disguised as social content,we should take a step back and contemplate a fundamental question.Why do we want to enter the social space?
There is a golden rule for marketeers who want to embark on the social adventure.In social media, the higher the risk, the bigger the pay-off.And the ultimate pay-off is the creation of brand advocates.
Never before was the possibility to create brand advocates as real, as tangible as it is today.
Never before has “not doing it right” irreversibly botched such an opportunity.
In the social space we have the means to plant the seeds of advocacy,water and then harvest them.
Two major routes: “Start from scratch”. Go all out in social media, with relevant, engaging content. Cast a wide net, and start building cells of fans. “Clay pigeons”. Identify influencers on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums. Engage them with conversation starters, and use them as vehicles to propagate your brand content.
Still, no matter how you go about it, it’s all about starting andmaintaining a conversation with consumers. Then listening andacting upon what’s being said.
Advocacy will remain a forbidden fruit unless both marketeersand admen change the way they approach the social space.Using social media to hard-sell your brand or your products, or evento promote traditional media content, will shortchange you in the end.Always.
panos is a planner, fringe traveler and wannabe free firstname.lastname@example.org id: Strategist3171 thanks to kurt beren geiger for his always helpful comments