Marketing in 2022 and beyond will not be about the number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes you have, or the really cool app you develop, or the YouTube video you produce in the hope it will “go viral”.
Of course these are nice tangible measures to show off in quarterly reports and they might actually be relevant in some way to your business, but they’re merely the sideshow.
The main game is about staying fresh, vital, relevant, visible and respected in a hyperconnected marketplace that’s increasingly being driven by the empowered many, at the expense of the privileged few.
Today’s digitally-savvy consumer prefers peer opinion over media commentary, and values user-generated content ahead of advertising messages.
They don’t like your hype and they care even less for your spin. They want companies to be open and active participants in the community and on the social web – not the closed impenetrable beasts they have traditionally been.
Depth of connection
Building your brand today increasingly hinges on the depth of connection you have with the people who matter the most to the success of your business (or cause, or issue, if you’re a non-profit).
It’s easy to say, but difficult to do. True connection with consumers and market influencers can’t be bought. It needs to be earned. And earning people’s respect and trust requires genuine, sustained effort – in particular it needs to be driven by an organisation’s leadership team.
And it cannot be achieved without showing your face, without being front and centre as real human beings, adding value, being useful, being interesting and interested in others.
Sorry, but commissioning an expensive new whizz-bang ad campaign won’t cut it.
What can senior executives do?
You can start by standing up and leading the way by embracing social technologies that help tear down the walls that exist between the corporation and the public, to actively foster genuine human interaction with people, your constituents – clients and customers, employees, partners and influencers.
Here are eight things business owners and corporate leaders can do to help make their organisation more publicly visible and accessible:
- Write regular blog posts (without any hint of jargon or gobbledygook language) that humanise the business and appeal to a real external audience, not geared towards your fellow executives internally.
- Use smartphone video live-streaming functions (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc) to document what’s happening in the world of the C-suite (and the organisation more broadly). What exciting things are you doing you can tell the world about?
- Instigate the development of a company-produced podcast series (or video webcast) and then participate in it on a (semi) regular basis.
- Challenge the marketing team to create a series of downloadable free PDF ebooks that help solve the most crucial pain-points experienced by your customers.
- Create a think-tank with competitors to address a particular issue confronting your industry (and then document the outcome in a blog post, or alternatively hold LinkedIn live-stream, incorporating two-way social interaction) and invite people within the industry to participate.
- Participate in webinar that demonstrates your company’s expertise on a particular (relevant) topic. Give your knowledge away freely, record the event and distribute it to those who were unable to attend.
- Sit down and chat over coffee with bloggers and ‘power tweeters’ who have a particular interest in your product or industry.
- Identify the experts within your organisation and give them the imprimatur (and the tools and training) to tell their story and share their ideas, knowledge and expertise with the broader marketplace using the plethora of social media tools available.
Throw down the gauntlet!
All of these activities require real people to participate.
Don’t be some faceless person hidden away in the shadows of the boardroom.
Get out and involved! Ignite discussion with your senior colleagues. Empower junior staff to get involved.
Throw down the gauntlet to the marketing and PR teams. Challenge your people to come up with creative ideas using social technologies and online publishing platforms that will help incrementally connect your brand with the marketplace in a useful and respectful way.
In 2022 and beyond, the companies that open up more than they are doing today, that provide genuine value over and above their products and services, and super-importantly, add a human dimension to their marketing and organisational communications, are the brands that will get noticed and be talked about in a positive way.
Who knows? Your story might start attracting back – and resonating with – the very same people who have increasingly been ignoring your company over the years.