The Ad industry is at the beginning of an explosive revolution, not seen since the start of the industrial revolution where processes, technology, innovation all changed so dramatically that the way that business was done and information & products were distributed, were transformed forever.
In 2012, there are lots of similarities to that epoch.
Like our predecessors, we are also continually looking for innovative ways to evolve away from existing paradigms that have existed since the first days of advertising with regards to:
- skill-sets perceived by the industry to be valuable,
- different ways to distribute messages and products,
- changing role of the consumer and
- participative nature of the consumer in creating and distributing the brand message etc.
The earliest days (and we are still in the early days!) of internet as a medium, were very crude, very raw, and very non strategic in many cases, and when it evolved from the ‘push’ of web 1.0 information to the multi directional, participative communication of web 2.0 and beyond, many of those original online pioneer publishers fell by the wayside.
Many made millions and continue to make millions, but many others simply went out of business because of the rapid change. The strongest have survived…for now.
And I think to a lesser degree, that this is going to happen with those claiming to be ‘social media experts‘ in our industry.
We are currently in a phase where there are thousands of individuals/companies/organizations claiming to have the required skill-sets to exploit these ‘social media ‘channels for brands but at the moment, our industry is simply reacting to ‘Buzzwords and Bullshit’ (a term that I think would make a great album title by the way!) and many ‘experts’ are being hired based on very little or no substance, and lots of hot air.
In many instances, he who shouts the loudest, is getting the Lion’s share (in the short term.)
But in the same way that the Phoenix rose from the ashes in Greek and Roman mythology, and in the way that healthy green tree chutes eventually grow back after a forest fire, in my opinion, this is what we shall experience in the coming years with regards to the 2 magic catch all words – ‘social media.’
Out of the carnage, the strongest will survive and the best social media people to help brands will remain.
My belief is that with data being the driver behind everything in the future in terms of communications/marketing/advertising and even creativity, it is the concrete numbers that will define which ‘experts’ in social media are truly ‘the experts’ in the long term.
An additional important point to mention is that social media is currently treated by many companies as a separate medium that is mutually exclusive from all other media.
However, realistically Social Media is becoming more and more integrated into traditional media channels – Google predicted in 2010 that 75% of all online display ads shall be social in nature by 2015.
Any company that is able to seamlessly integrate ‘social functionality’ into their corporate culture and their brand communications, and have the numbers to back it up, will be the winners. Consequently, a knowledge of the workings of other mainstream media such as TV, radio, out of home as well as new media platforms, will certainly be an asset.
Example – I believe that in the future, Video content across all media could and should regularly be used to simply kick off an engaging brand initiative to the masses, and that the internet can then take it to another level in terms of a greater depth of engagement, sharing and use of social channels. A knowledge of only online social media will not be enough in such a scenario to maximize the brand benefit.
And don’t forget, that there will be a time soon when the term ‘social media’ will no longer exist because most communication will inherently contain a social element.
So all I’m ultimately saying to brands is, please be careful in 2012 of ‘B and B !!!’
What do you guys think?