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Catalysed by the ubiquitous social web, our lives are becoming inseparable from that of our networks. We are addicted to the constant online “strokes” delivered by our friends, and crave their likes, shares, comments and retweets.
Like it or loathe it, much of what happens in real life (IRL) is intimately intertwined to how we behave in the virtual world. And we’re lovin’ it.
Consider these scenarios:
1) I’ve just scrolled through my friends’ pics of foodporn on Instagram. Wow! That new restaurant serves an awesome looking dinner for divas. OK, time to make a booking…
2) I’m feeling bored and decide to scan through YouTube to find something . Man, those comedians sure are funny! Lol… Maybe I should film myself saying something silly too?
3) What should I do for my wedding? Hmmm… maybe I’ll check out those wedding boards on Pinterest.
4) Crap! How dare that young whippersnapper on STOMP whip that auntie with such viciousness! Grrr… let me add my angry opinion while sharing this with my hundreds of followers.
5) Why doesn’t anybody comment or “like” my Facebook post starring my dearly beloved son/dog/cat/car? Don’t they think its cool too? *Disappointed frown*
Truth is, our identities are now shaped by the collective influences, interactions and insights gleaned from our social networks. Our sense of self are molded as much by what we see, hear or perform on our smartphones and tablets as they are by what we do in our physical lives.
In other words, if it isn’t photographed and shared on Facebook, that anniversary/birthday/party didn’t happen IRL.
We’re no longer discrete individuals leading quiet and dignified lives. Instead, we’re kind of like social insects buzzing in the hive, humming along to the vibrations that come our way, connected to multiple networks at work, at play and at home.
What then should marketers do?
First, we need to move beyond boxing people into target segments based on demographics or psychographics alone. Just because I’m in my 40s and have a family with one child doesn’t mean that I’ll like what your consumer survey suggests.
Next, we need to understand that media consumption and influence has changed dramatically. Advertisements are no longer the paragons of persuasion. To succeed, they now need to be catalysts of conversation – stuff that people want to talk about and share amongst their social networks.
Instead of drilling into data from linear and strictly bounded categories, consider how we can mine the zeitgeist of the social age. Join the same social networks as your customers. Study popular search topics on Google. Tap trending hashtags on Twitter. Weave the magic of memes.
Finally, step into your customer’s shoes. Spend time on the social webs investigating his or her digital world. What are the things that they like? What comments do they leave behind? What gets shared or re-shared? Who are their friends? How do they interact with each other? When do they engage with brands?
The social age is one where being in harmonious rhythm matter more than clinical analysis of data. To groove in this arena, place your finger on the pulse of social sentiments. Discern the rising and falling tempo of social networks. Keep your ears peeled to the collective choruses of online communities.
Better yet, be a player in the very spaces where your customers hang out. By doing so, you’ll be amongst the first to ride the next wave before it hits the shore.
Are you ready to ride the social wave? (courtesy of surfers)