The Long and Winding Road by Patrick Reade

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Will you be ready for the ‘digital axis shift’?
I predict, that soon, both your e-mail account and your company website will be redundant and terribly ‘passe’ , I believe the ‘tipping point’ in on-line commerce and engagement is imminent.
Are you ready for it? If not you can forget about playing catch up….your dead in the water!
OK , so you think I’ve been over indulging in those fine warm British beers again , well no actually , I am serious…I can almost feel this move , its like watching a thunder-head move in from the distance and there is nothing much you can do to stop it. Best to be prepared and hope to come out the other side somewhat intact and ready for action.
Last week I spoke of all things European and highlighted the different perspectives in on-line development, this week I am talking about a phenomena which will impact all of us wherever we are and whatever we are doing. As we trawl through the acres of industry research and journals one can’t help noticing that certain topics keep raising their head in one form or another. Mostly these articles and papers are unrelated but like a good detective with a white board and colored lines joining relevant bits of data I think a picture begins to emerge….I’m not at all convinced that we all see what I see,  ( not such a bad thing overall, I guess!).
Let me recount a brief anecdotal story which I feel illustrates the rate at which things have and are changing for the on-line/digital world; about 2 1/2 years ago I set up a Twitter account for my wife , so she could keep in touch and advertise her work to her clients and prospects. She wanted to build a little community locally who could access her services etc…all well and good, in fact within a few weeks she had 150 regular participants in her community , the vast majority of whom she also met weekly to work with, which served its purpose well …and still does today even tough she has moved away from the area she started.
When a friend of my wife’s heard what I had done ( and with some signs of jealousy and frustration) she announced that ‘Twitter is so passe!’. Well , I was more than a little amused, a bit like the way the guy who invented denim was when he was told that nobody but gold-panner would ever be seen dead in denim! Well the ‘fashionista’ was wrong as was my wife’s friend but the point here is interesting I think.There are times when you think you have sorted out your business affairs , things are running smoothly , you understand the playing field and then ‘wallop’ someone comes along , out of the blue and moves the goalposts. Many of us become overwhelmed by the changes we face and rather than step back and truly understand the opportunities they represent , we dismiss them out of hand so that we do not have to deal with them. To some degree , I think many people have done that with Social Media.
My prediction of increasingly redundant websites and defunct e-mail accounts is directly due to the increasing potency of Social Media in our lives. I’m not going to throw Facebook figures at you to prove a point as there is no value in that. The Chinese , as I pointed out last week , have their own Facebook alternative and an equally massive on-line/digital ecosystem of their own…they simply don’t need Facebook or the like. What I am getting at is that as Social Media has evolved it has transitioned from a stress relieving chat room about coffee shops and the occasional world event into a refined and highly tuned market barometer, worthy of immense respect in the industry. It has morphed into the most powerful marketing/advertising/educating and engagement tool the world has ever seen. The ‘digital axis shift’ as I call it, is based on the bottom -up power of Social Media where it is changing the established playing field and moving the goalposts daily. We used to play football, now we play Quidditch.
Only last week I saw several articles about how Social Media is playing a vital role in boosting terrestrial and cable TV shows viewing figures, how there are now reliable formulae to determine the ROI of Social Media, large swathes of data showing how we interact with the Internet on a multitude of platforms ( especially mobile..we did say this before, did we not?) whenever we want to. Yes, Social Media has trained us to expect everything we want at our finger tips and at any time…..oh and by the way ….it better be premium or I will post all manner of nasty things about you. Tail wagging the dog? Maybe, maybe more of ‘be careful what you wish for , you just might get it!’
Watch this video interview with Paul Falls , author of ‘No Bullshit Social Media’….. where he explains how he sees the shift in usage and expectation related to Social Media…yes, he pushes his book a little but he has some good observations …….and comments on what we should be looking for in Social Media analytics.

Good eh? Wasn’t too long ago that we were all worried about being ‘liked’ on Facebook or ‘tweeted’ a lot, now it is about who, why and what next…this is a good thing. We know that research recently published atwww.marketingcharts.com points to positive customer experiences driving loyalty to a brand and healthy revenue. No better way to drive those two parts of the puzzle than by using good Social Media practices. Speaking of these newer findings we also see that there is an inextricable movement away from e-mail towards Facebook and the like……the numbers show that being ‘liked’ on Facebook is increasingly close to the numbers of people opting-in to e-mail lists and interestingly the opt-out scenario has definite correlations with being ‘unfriended'(www.marketingprofs.com) . If this trend continues then what use do we have for e-mail?

When companies understand that they are more likely to get what they want from this type of more engaging behavior they will drop the e-mail marketing blasts like the proverbial ‘hot potato’….why use a blanket bomb when a laser guided missile will do a better job…it is less wasted effort and higher strike rates for conversion.
Now, before you shout me down to say that all is not as rosy as I say , you are correct to some degree however the key element in this is, the overwhelming focus in marketing and on-line practices related to commerce is Social Media. The most successful companies are the ones who have stuck with it , developed it over a few years and grown with the customer; Powerful it is but an overnight success it is not…if you start it you must stay with it!

One of the hardest things about writing this piece was that I was absolutely swamped by articles and research illustrating the shift to Social Media in all formats; companies are spending more on it at the expense of traditional media, we are using it more in all formats . Even today, while I was reflecting on the information overload I was giving myself, I had a quick look at www.mashable.com and found a very interesting marketing method being employed. On-line clothing retailer ‘Ssense’ has debuted what appears to be the first music video you can make purchases in, featuring Australian rapper Iggy Azalea alongside hip-hop duo FKi and Grammy-nominated producer Diplo.In the video a tag appears over items on screen , in this case high end designer fashion items, if you like it you can click on the tag, pause the video and purchase the items, then return to the music video and enjoy the moment. Who needs a website now? In this week’s audio podcast episode in Marketing Smarts , Kurt Abrahamson of ‘ShareThis’ says, “It’s not just Social Media,it’s socially engaged audiences that are important.”
“On sites where the audience is socially engaged at a higher level, there is more responsiveness to the advertising that actually shows up on those sites. And it’s the quality content that generates the user engagement.”

Perhaps now you see why SEO is not the Holy Grail and never was…..the Social Media influence means that the goods look for you NOT the other way around.
So , while I have been predicting what you won’t have, let me tell you what I think you will have. I believe that very soon you will only see video based , streamed content to your mobile devices which will enable you to interact with the provider to research, enjoy, entertain and purchase any and all the items you wish to have or need to have…….you will see companies running their very own on-line digital channels using video and audio to give you the total experience, uncluttered by other brands competing for your attention, as happens now on terrestrial TV/cable TV and is seen in the awful world of ‘pre-roll’ and the ‘pop-up’ every time we visit a website.

Oh , one last reason that my prediction is not so far-fetched….Generation C ( C meaning connected) , the 18-34 year old digital consumers, are adopting these mobile and social media methods at an unprecedented rate , a rate which will determine the future course of our on-line world.
This is the ‘digital axis shift’……………”more warm beer please barman!”
see you on the long and winding road….Patrick

Website: www.3rdplanetmedia.com
Blogs: Bibliothèque | Vidiothèque | Audio Prodcast

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