That is the question that consumes me.
I not only see the new forms of Digital Marketing as an opportunity that no Marketing Professional should waste, I often wonder if I am doing everything I can (and - in the process - encouraging the clients we connect with at Twist Image) to ensure that the future generations of Marketers will look back on this very unique moment in time and be proud of the work that we all, collectively, did to help people connect in much more efficient and human ways with the brands that they care the most about.
It's a tall order.
Holding ourselves to a higher standard is the only option. If Social Media has done anything, it has proven that brands are now naked (more than they ever were). Brands are no longer just accountable to their corporate shareholders, because the shareholders are now each and every person who touches the brand (mostly because every one of those individuals can now broadcast their loves, fears, passions and concerns for the world to see in text, images, audio and video). For decades, governments have put laws into place that keep Marketers (and many other professions) in check - this happened because we stepped over the line on more than a few occasions. Public outcry because of abuse and other stupidities have not helped our profession. Yes, we still have many people who call themselves "marketers", but they're ultimately trying to defraud the public rather than add any semblance of economic value to a brand or the overall economy. We need to not only rise above, but really take hold of the work that we do. Our very future depends on it.
Thinking about the future.
Odds are that future marketers will look back on these past few decades of marketing with a mixture of shame, envy and disgust (sorry to burst your bubble). We have to remember that as generations turn, new standards, ethics and beliefs come into play that will take the place for our shortcomings and short-sightedness. Just as some of the advertising from our past seems implausible now (for more on that: Top 48 Ads That Would Never Be Allowed Today), the work we're doing in the here and now will probably shock the marketers of the future who will look back on us (just as we are shocked by the ads in the link above) with an air of contempt. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that we thought dumping our raw sewage into the rivers surrounding our homes and cities was the right/best way to do things. This doesn't mean that we're hopeless. It does mean that we have to be cognizant of this reality. We should spend some extra time doing our best to not only push these new platforms forward, but to change the face of Marketing as we know it. I see this more as an opportunity than a threat or something to fear. One of the easier ways to do this is to add a layer into our work that forces us to think about what the future marketers will think of us.
It's not just about our own, personal, legacy, but the way our profession is respected within our society.