What do you make of articles that say, "this will change everything for Marketers?"
The truth is, I'm just as guilty as the next Journalist, Blogger and Writer to publish thoughts like that. The truth is, those types of sayings and thoughts are popping up in every form of media a lot more often these days. The truth is, it's true. We tend to lump everything we see in the digital channels as "Social Media" and it's probably one of the biggest disservices we can do to the online channels and platforms. YouTube is nothing like Twitter and Twitter is nothing like Facebook, yet businesspeople and Marketers just lump it all together into one big hot tub of fun called, Social Media.
Yes, this will change everything.
Look at it from this perspective: you're a brand manager producing traditional media (television, radio, print, out-of-home, radio) and the Internet comes along. Suddenly, you have a whole new set of tools and skills that will be needed that are nothing like the unique skill set it takes to optimize what you were doing before. On top of that, the Internet isn't just one media channel - it's many different types of media and it spans all types of ways in which to engage with the general public. It's text, images, audio and video. It's long-form content, it's video clips, it's chatting to your customers, it's sharing pictures, it's mass collaborating, it's Podcasting, it's online social networking, it's iPhone apps, and it's a lot more. Even basic website skills seem a little outdated already.
There are no standards for advertising. There are no standards for content creation.
Sure, places like the IAB - Interactive Advertising Bureau - help publishers and advertisers work together to create some semblance of advertising standards (mostly around display advertising), but as soon as something new crops up (like Foursquare), the whole notion that you can standardize what goes into that channel from Marketing and Advertising perspective is out the window. Just look at what the iPhone and the advent of apps has done to change the Marketing mix (and there are countless other differing examples).
Everything is so different.
Rarely do we really stop, give pause and reflect on how different the role of Marketing has become, and how fast it continues to evolve in the digital channels alone. It's not like there's just another new title in the magazine rack and you have to tweak some creative to fit a slightly varied printing size. It's not even close. Marketers are actually forced to invent what content, communications and advertising should (or should not) look, act and behave in these channels. The platforms are all completely different. How people use them to connect and share is usually very different from one to the other, and there's zero proof of how a Marketing message will even play out within them.
Standards suddenly seem silly.
The truth is that as each new and different digital channel opens up, we are forced to reinvent the wheel and we are faced with a scenario where what we have to do is totally and completely different. It would be interesting to see how many other industries are faced with this type of constant and ongoing disruption, innovation, challenge and opportunity.
The first step in succeeding may lie in not treating everything like it's all the same, while trying to figure out how dramatically different things may be going forward.