Balancing Between Buzz and Believability

September 9th, 2010   •   no comments   

Social media and digital marketing can be full of contradictions.

There is an inherent paradox in the digital world right now, especially with the onset of numerous social media and citizen centric channels.

It is what I would call the authenticity anomaly of the digital age. There are two sides to this coin.

A Tale of Two Bs

The first is this:

To succeed online, you need to be the talk-of-the-town. Thus, you need to generate BUZZ.

On the flip side, however, we are presented with this:

To succeed online, you need to be authentic, real, and BELIEVABLE.

Let me put it another way.

If you have fascinating corporate stories – spiced with personal asides and heartwarming moments, it is probably easier for you to relate to a broad and wide audience by riding on the personality train.

Here, penning a blog post, putting up photo heavy updates on Facebook, piping out bite-sized gems on Twitter, or filming an amateur company video featuring the company clown are all par for the course.

We have all read, viewed or heard stories of companies which have done it. Embracing citizen and employee marketers from every department, their mantra is to let a thousand flowers bloom.

With so many colourful and charismatic colleagues and customers on board, surely one of them would have an interesting story to tell?

Wouldn’t they be able to share at least one or two terrific tit-bits to their friends, family members and associates, becoming agents of “spreadable” content?

After all, nothing beats generating buzz like having legions of fans available to help disseminate intriguing corporate episodes of a finely crafted organisational script, preferably transmedia style.

The Battle for Finite Attention

Yet many of us real life marketing practitioners know that relying purely on an organisation’s own innate ability to grow an audience may not be enough. There are oceans, both blue and red, of competitors who are turning every marketing trick in the book.

While we may have a more charming fable to weave, our competitors are investing so heavily in every media possible that we can no longer whisper into our customer’s ear, WOM style.

With product life cycles becoming shorter and shorter, technology developing faster and faster, and consumers becoming fussier and fussier, there is little rest for us marketers.

Every new advertisement, brochure, poster, banner, blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel launched will face higher and higher barriers to entry.

While digital resources are often too cheap to meter, attention is finite.

Marketing Fast and Slow

Can we afford the slower burn needed for our brands to gain critical following while our competitors gain market share with more traditional mass-advertising techniques?

Do our shareholders have the patience to wait quarter after quarter for a breakthrough while we strain our creative juices looking for an original made-from-within idea that can generate that mystical “viral” effect?

Isn’t it easier to cave-in and just engage Beyonce/Tay Tay/Zoe Tay and splash them all over the dailies?

Perhaps a balance between mass appeal approaches and longer-term handcrafted endearment is needed.

While you should start to build up the story banks of your organisation/ brands and script them engagingly into all your customer touchpoints, you should also not shy away from using the extra help which mass broadcast and print media can offer.

Whats more important, however, is for both strategies to dovetail and integrate with each other.

If you are using primarily popular approaches, ensure that they gel with your own backstory. Page by page, implement campaigns that use the power of popular culture, while adding chapters to your own corporate book.

Creating your own honest-to-goodness, pure and unadulterated content is crucial to generating credibility with your stakeholders. In the long-term, doing so will pay huge dividends as your brand gains credibility and standing amongst your target audiences.

However, you need to also be realistic about what you can and cannot achieve, and to augment that approach with the occasional injection of buzz-worthy, mass-media triggering enrapturing acts. Doing the dance effectively helps your company to be relevant both now and in the future.

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