Noise. It’s the epidemic that’s been increasingly engulfing our planet over the past 100 years. It’s the media plague that drives men to praise their TiVo’s for their god-like ability to skip commercials and quickly get us back to watching our favorite sports team or evening sitcom.
Like the besieged La Roque Castle, our culture is under attack. We are bombarded on every side and at every moment with sales pitches. We face commercials on the radio, on television, on YouTube, in the newspapers, on billboards and on the sides of trucks. We’re pitched to support aspiring artists on the street, to buy a vacuum cleaner from the door-to-door salesman, and to buy roses from the peddler on the corner.
It was this onslaught that drove Jim Carry’s character in Liar Liar to scream out, “I just want to get from the car to my office without being confronted by the decay of western society. Plus I’m cheap.”
There is a battle raging amongst businesses; A war is being fought for the attention of consumers.
It’s this onslaught that drives consumers to channel surf during the commercial breaks, to worship their TiVo’s as we mentioned above, and to install ad-blockers on their internet browsers.
This culture of advertisement bombardment creates a dilemma: people don’t want to hear about your product. They don’t care. The information, the savings, the usefulness of your product isn’t worth the noise they’ll have to endure to discover and learn about it.
As a business person, you’re faced with a daunting challenge. You’re faced with the task of marketing your business, your content or your products in a world where people don’t want to hear about your business, your content or your products.
So how do you get it done with any real level of success?
First, you don’t get discouraged. Cultural shifts don’t mean defeat, so second, you learn how communication is changing, you grow in your understanding of online consumers and you adapt to meet the needs of our modern culture.
If you think you can handle those tasks then keep reading and let’s take a journey together.
Broadcast Media vs. Conversational (Social) Media
Human culture is in a constant state of evolution, and as such everything about the way that we live our lives today is different than the eras of our parents or grandparents.
…Just take a look at your average magazine iPad app. It’s essentially a PDF that you can touch. It’s like paper. It’s one way. It’s broadcast.
But the future of publishing, of media in general, isn’t broadcast. As humans, we’re on an unwavering path to make it easier to communicate with one another…
Successful media endeavors of the near future will embrace experience, engagement, and conversation.
~ Christopher Fahey & Timothy Meaney in Conversation is the New Attention
As we move forward through time, it seems that there are some folks who are working relentlessly to marry our culture to technology. Communication in our era is being rapidly redefined by the technology that’s being rolled out. Instead of sending a letter to someone we care about, we now post on their Facebook wall, message them on twitter, or send them a video message from our phone.
This technology creates both the dilemma we discussed above and the solution to that dilemma. TiVo’s condition viewers to skip commercials, Twitter trains users to chat on their smart phones during conferences, and Facebook allows people to share photos during events. In a very large way, it’s this technology that’s fueling this rejection of the old-school, noisy forms of media, advertising and presentation.
Blaming the audience for lack of interest is a cardinal sin. You can walk away, throw in the towel, and give up while cursing our modern generation for no longer responding to the ad inserts you’ve been publishing in the declining newspaper for the past 20 years, or you can embrace the very technology that’s creating this dilemma and adapt it to create a solution.
Adapting to the New Age of Conversation
As a speaker, you can force users to turn off their cell phones and put away laptop computers as you speak forcing audience members to appear to be paying attention.
But this is the wrong answer.
Instead, find ways to adapt, and deliver your message in a way that’s more exciting and more personal. Instead of forcing a captive audience to pretend they’re paying attention to you, step up your game and give them something they’ll be tweeting to their friends about.
Mass, one-way broadcast media isn’t dead, but it’s well on its way, and in its place conversational social media is quickly rising. Conversational media is the new rising star of our era, not because it’s cool or trendy, but because it allows businesses and entrepreneurs to connect with consumers (vertical conversation) while consumers are simultaneously connecting with one another (horizontal conversation). And, of course, sometimes the conversation finds it’s way into the traditional news outlets and throughout the blogosphere (viral conversation).
Be part of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish instead of being the social media island. Be the marketing team, not the social media person. Be the sales person who uses new tools, not the social media sales person. Tell stories using the tools to grow business; don’t use the tools because they’re cool.
The whole trick of it is that the work is embedding in the larger picture. It’s not going away. It’s mainstreaming.
~ Chris Brogan in Where the Work Is Going
Some businesses already understand these facts and work hard to position themselves to be promoted across social media. For example, Levi’s is building an entire section of their site around jeans and products that your friends have ‘liked’ on Facebook. Local restaurants and retailers offer healthy discounts for Foursquare check-ins and mayorships.
In the end, however, all that matters is how you decide to use social media to grow your business, connect with your potential customers, and increase sales.
What’s your plan?