A friend and I were talking about digital media the other day and he asked me a question: When do new media and digital marketing become a part of traditional media and evolve to the new 'normal'? I didn't have an answer. I would like to say in many ways we are actually there…but as I listen to clients and view the marketing world that exists today, I would say we still have a way to go.
In my life as a consumer, the two are completely intertwined. I look at all social mediums every day, from my phone, my laptop, at my desk, on the treadmill, before bed…you get the picture. I am extremely connected. I see the vanity URLs on commercials and immediately take mental note to see what they deliver. I scan the QR codes and want to know what magical thing is revealed. This has become my new 'normal'. Even as the growth of social media explodes with over 600 million people on Facebook, more than 200 million on Twitter and the numbers and networks are still growing, I sincerely believe we are in the infant stages of understanding how all of this becomes integrated in a way that doesn't mean brands are sticking a Facebook share button on their websites and then stating they are 'digital' and 'socially engaged'.
The way we consume media and information has changed dramatically even if we can't gauge or measure the exact result. I read a story online recently that very much imitated something that would seem very normal to me. It was a story about two co-workers talking incessantly about a recent TV commercial they had seen. But the thing was that they hadn't actually seen the ad – at least not in the traditional sense of the word 'seeing'. That is of course if the first image that entered your head when you thought about seeing a commercial is sitting in front of an HDTV watching a commercial break. How they saw this ad was completely personal: one colleague's daughter had tweeted her a note to check a posting she'd made on her Facebook wall for a link to the YouTube-located commercial that she'd had been alerted to by a co-worker on LinkedIn. Is that the new 'normal'?
And if that seems a bit round-about, there are two things you ought to know: First, the entire interaction from start to finish took less than 4 minutes, and that included the commercial being viewed twice (once by the daughter and once by the employees) and subsequently an additional comment being posted by a colleague who then alerted her son in another city and another time zone. Second, this is increasingly becoming how real brand communication and engagement is taking place – at the speed of the consumer.
Social media marketing and the various connecting tools currently available to brands can be extraordinarily useful in opening channels of communications between brands and customers. However, it is just one tenet in a comprehensive marketing strategy. Social media should be seen as a conversation and part of an ongoing relationship with a consumer, but only a part of the relationship. Digital platforms should be leveraged in a way that complement and ultimately extend traditional marketing engagement to deepen relationships with consumers and create even more compelling marketing strategies.
So when will we get to this new 'normal'? To be honest, I'm not sure. I think many people that you ask would react the way I initially did with the answer that we have already arrived. Some would say we will never get there and others would say we are somewhere in the middle of the journey.
I don't know the exact timing…but let me check my Facebook and LinkedIn and get back to you!