Friday, August 12, 2011

Social media experts still need to understand People

Foursquare has over 10 million users world wide (April, 2011) and numbers are growing. It´s become increasingly popular to check in, using either Foursquare or Facebook Places. Telling people where you are is a way of also telling the world you live a full interesting life and have friends in real life too - not just online.

We live and breathe our technical devices. We sleep just next to them, bring them with us everywhere and get a religious tone of voice when saying things like "Getting an iphone changed my life". Social media is reshaping our lives. But probably not as much as we think.

I´m old enough to remember the days when we did not have mobile phones. I remember the Pager. And I remember being stunned when writing my first email (in uni, to a boy I had a crush on), suddenly having the ability to write to someone who then would receive it immediately! In the old days you sent a letter and it arrived a day or two later - but with emails you could communicate in an instant. Wow!

But we need to remember it is just technical changes. Big ideas still follow the same rules. We still write embarrassing things - and even if a love letter reaches the One in seconds rather than days, it still contains the same agony, longing and pathetic emotional outbursts as in old days. Even if we now can tell the world we are currently having dinner with a couple of friends at Ravesis in Bondi Beach, the same need of acceptance, status and love are involved as was in ancient times. The brain stays the same. The human psychology follows the same rules. People are still people.

What social media can help brands achieve is getting a closer relationship with the market. When we have a chat with the brand one on one on our smartphone, we are not distracted by what other people think of us, which means we can act out of what we think or feel rather than what society and culture tells us. We can get the feeling that the brand thinks of ME specifically.

In most advertising it´s not like that. Brands speak to everyone at the train station who sees the same print campaign, and you know that all the other people in the movie theatre are watching the same commercial messages. You don´t get the intimate bond that you can perceive getting when it´s "just you and the brand" through the phone.

Mobile marketing is like one-on-one sessions compared to going to a seminar. Or at least it could be, if brands used it that way.

Just having a Facebook site or a YouTube campaign is not enough to make things "go viral" and connect in a way that leads to sales. There is more to it than that. Behind every great social media campaign lays a great insight about the psyche and life of the target.

Don´t get blinded by the technology. The insight needs to be in the centre of your thinking. “Social media experts” are useless if they don´t understand people.

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