At this time of the year, there is a tendency people (and especially silver-haired folks of my age) to hark back to bygone eras. Indeed, a few years back, business gurus were urging us to study Sun Tzu and his book ‘The Art of War’. Military men were expected to know the strategies of Napoleon. But the world is changing so fast that to study advertising and marketing strategies of even a decade ago will provide little that is of relevance today.
What is plain to all, is that we live in an age of incredibly easy communications. Once upon a time we shared gossip and our silly holiday snaps with a small intimate group of family and close friends. Social media has made it possible to reach out to thousands or even millions and most of us have embraced the new technology with gusto. 420 million photos are uploaded daily on Instagram. I have to ask: how many of these were worth archiving? 228 million people in Asia go onto Facebook daily. Were they really of interest everyone on your ‘friend’ group? Go out to a restaurant and before you can lift fork to mouth, there is a pause while one of the party shoots the dishes on an iPhone. Who else but a rival chef would be interested in the pretty placement of the meat and veg? I attend quite a few conferences where the organisers put up a screen to show the tweets from the participants. I fail to recall even one that added anything of value. The messages sent, via WhatsApp from my dog group look, I’m afraid, as if they were sent by a group of excitable eight-year olds.
My hope for 2015 – not with great expectations – is that social media will mature and people will take advantage of the amazing connection by considering the value of the communication rather than waste so much time in the coming year sending empty messages and pictures.
For those in advertising and marketing, social media platforms offer us a chance to connect with human beings all over the world. But we, too, need to remember that, in days past, relationships, friendships were built by genuine interest in the other person and giving practical help and support.
While I am not brave enough to look into a crystal ball and tell you what will happen in our industry in five years’ time, it doesn’t take much of an insight to predict that in the coming year, much of our advertising communications will be via video – moving images and audio tracks. Advertisers will follow the audience onto social media. 60 hours of video are uploaded every hour on YouTube. 4 billion videos are viewed in a day which gives you some idea of the appetite for moving images which range from movie clips to footage of funny animals to educational films. Sadly, the written word will have less relevance in the advertising arena in the future.
The sheer volume of communications, to which all of us are exposed each day, makes it harder for advertisers to be seen and heard. But ‘big data’ will probably save us. As Carl Ally (you might need to be over 60 to have heard of this ad man) put it, “People read what they want to read.” And they will watch what they want to watch. The tools are being crafted to give marketers amazing personal access to customers. But we will still have to be very creative with our messages and learn to be a good friend.
My best wishes to you all for 2015.