Frontiers of Communication: The Social Media Paradigm Shift

I’ll be the first to admit that the paradigm has been shifted for some time because of social media. Still, when you’re trying to benefit your business with communication through social media, it really can never be talked about enough. Many businesses out there may be looking for online marketing in Orange County, and still not appreciate just how different the communication model is since the advent of social media.

The old model of marketing was very much about influencing people. The avenues were far less crowded, and as such, messages had a level impact that will probably never be achieved again; With a catchy phrase and a vibrant illustration, you could actually influence how consumers thought: “Drink Coca Cola!” “Buy War Bonds!” “Put a Tiger in Your Tank!” It was just that simple.

With social media, the pyramid has been turned upside down. Marketers and campaigns are, comparatively, not calling the shots anymore. Possibly because of the explosive muddle of messages that the average person is bombarded with constantly, people are not as apt to be swayed by a catchy call to action alone. Social media platforms are the common realm of the people. And if businesses are to succeed in these realms, you’ve got to listen to what the people are saying.

Along with this has come a wealth of analytic tools that are now the norm. Before, analytics were crude or nonexistent. It took months to know whether an ad campaign actually moved the needle or not. Now, digital marketing tools give you knowledge—almost immediately—on how effective your campaign is. Just Facebook ads and Google Adwords alone are powerful tools for gaining this progressively more essential feedback.

Still, the main conceptual shift that you can benefit from is acknowledging that, while people are still able to be influenced to a degree, communication through social media has to be more meaningful. You’ve got to reach people in a way that is “human,” a way that respects their desires, their cultural moment, and their agency. This is what I meant by the pyramid being turned upside down. The consumer, in so many ways, is calling the shots like never before. Marketing still influences—in some ways, even more strongly than before—but what has changed is that your marketing message has to come to the table with that degree of human-ness, it has to speak the consumer’s language, or else the campaign will fall flat.

In a sense, these are dangerous waters for marketers. To a degree, you’re not on your home turf, and the stakes are higher when you try to speak your audience’s language. There is a growing body of epic marketing flops that arise from companies trying to “cash in” on speaking the language of their audience; these vary in intensity from the perennial insincere holiday tweet to Pepsi’s recent cataclysmic fail of trying to cash in on the spirit of the times by shoe horning their product in together with current protests and diversity movements across the country, and basically offending EVERYONE in the process. It’s a perfect example of how the paradigm has shifted, and how consumers are wielding more power than they’ve ever had in the realms of marketing. The Pepsi uproar, which almost immediately pulled the plug on their campaign, simply wouldn’t have happened 10, maybe just 5 years ago. More than ever, consumers have a say about which ads are OK, and which aren’t.

This is just the most glaring example of the complexities of marketing to a socially connected populous. Online Marketing in Orange County and beyond takes subtlety, strategy, and skill. If you’ve got questions about your brand and communication through social media, we are always here to help.

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