Feb 25

More Than Social Media, Are We Engaging Consumers in the Right Way?

More Than Social Media, Are We Engaging Consumers in the Right Way?

I was recently asked by a friend what I did. After giving her an elevator speech-style description of our company’s work with social media and strategy behind making brands the most talked about and recommended in their category, I was shocked by her response. She looked at me and very simply stated,

“That’s great, I’m glad you like it. Now someday, you’re going to have to explain what you mean when you say social media.”

Social media and technology Fortune Cookie.jpgAt that moment, amid the noise surrounding me as I walked down the street of one of the country’s largest cities, I realized that I lived in a bubble. My work brings me front and center with a world guided by platforms like Facebook and Twitter, or technologies like augmented reality and geo-tagging. Brands are eager to be the most innovative and always, the most successful among their competitors. And so, as an agency, we must deliver. Although a strategic marketing plan guides our efforts, very often, the tactics used to execute involve some variant of social media–used as a way to reach consumers and inspire recommendations of and for the brand, sustainably, over time.

To me, using these tactics seems obvious in today’s age of social networking and online sharing. All I could think was, how can any well-informed person not know what social media is, or what you can do with it?

The bubble had engulfed me and I was no longer looking at our consumerist society from the eyes of those we hope to target. Being able to experience a product in 3D via black squiggles of a jagtag may be cool, but do people really care? What’s the point of having location-based services for finding the closest subway stop or restaurant if reliable and consistent cell-phone service has yet to exist? Is broadcasting on Foursquare exactly when and where someone is always a good idea?

As marketers we are responsible for creating effective programs that attract the attention of consumers. We must also remember that we have a biased view of the online landscape. Not everyone knows what we’re talking about.

Despite the flurry of business, make sure to take a step back. At some point in your life, you weren’t as plugged in as you are now. Even if you can’t do without your Blackberry used during work, your iPhone used after work, the 10 online channels where you share with the world hourly status updates, or the multi-platform-HD-1000-channel entertainment system that can even sleep and eat for you, there are people who can. Those are the people we need to remember. Just like my friend — well informed, smart, interesting — they are just as eager to talk about and share their experiences with a brand.

So, I’m curious, what are other creative ways marketers are engaging consumers that perhaps use social media, but go beyond technology to successfully engage?