Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
When I was growing up in the 1970’s I remember my mother telling me that people would “honeymoon on the moon” when I was out of college. Those of us who came of age at that time tell similar tales of dreaming of a future when we’d fly through the neighborhood like George Jetson, converse with charming (or evil) robots, and everyday life would be made oh so easy through computers like the “futuristic” home at the end of the Carrousel of Progress in Walt Disney World. While we are not yet using hovercrafts on the highway, we are starting to see drones in use and “smart homes” computerize all aspects of our daily tasks. That great, big, beautiful tomorrow didn’t arrive with a splash, but with an evolution so subtle that in many respects we didn’t see our total reliance on technology until the day we tried to get somewhere without a GPS.
So if the future is continually evolving, what are the kinds of things that will impact a company as it strategically plans for sustainable success? Where is technology leading us and what happens when that technology meets humanity? And, what is the role of social media marketing for brands of today that want to continue to be brands of tomorrow?
Sometimes You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name
While dreamers of the atomic age envisioned a somewhat cold and calculating future self, it is clear that people are using computers not just instead of human contact but actually to provide human contact. Facebook has become the online end-of-the-day cocktail party where friends, family, and acquaintances meet to share feelings and provide life updates real time. Twitter is the place where a personal connection can be made with people of all walks of life around the world. LinkedIn is the water cooler around which the working class networks and makes connections. Brands need to embrace the personal aspects of social media and get ready for the next level. As smart homes turn the lights on when the owner arrives, smart retail stores should provide a personalized experience for fans when they arrive. Imagine that you’ve “liked” a brand’s Facebook page or checked into a store on FourSquare and your device notifies the employees when you arrive so they can greet you by name and immediately know your preferences. It’s a little like George Orwell’s 1984, and a lot like Norm on Cheers circa 1982.
When Pete Townsend sang about Going Mobile in 1971 he had no idea what it would come to mean in 2014. Mobile is not the wave of the future; it is the wave of today. The more capabilities there are on mobile devices, the higher the expectations are. We are surprised when we don’t have a cell connection, annoyed when the Wi-Fi isn’t working, and are completely appalled when a store can’t scan a coupon from our phone. When packing for a trip of a lifetime, a camera is not even considered but a tablet is essential. We want – some would say need – everything at our fingertips at every moment of every day. Brands need to play in this mobile space. They need to make sure the mobile experience is as good if not better than the desktop experience and that both reflect the brick and mortar experience. Certainly, mobile pay is looming on the horizon and providing brands with great opportunities to bring the shopping experience to the consumer rather than waiting and hoping for the consumer to come to them.
Haters Gonna Hate
One particularly unpleasant aspect of humanity is our inclination to bully and that trait has found fertile ground in social media. Social media is the great equalizer. With the anonymity of the computer keyboard, everyone is the same. It doesn’t matter if you are attractive, smart, or rich; you have the same power as anyone else. A brand must be aware of the potential for bullying on the brand pages. The bullying might present itself among the tribe so that fans resort to name calling when others don’t share their point of view. In this case, a brand must be protective of the sentiment on its page and establish and enforce codes of conduct to prevent hostility. In a different way, the brand itself might be the subject of lobbying, cajoling, badgering, or even bullying. Brand pages can be hijacked by individuals who are trying to make a change for one reason or another. The brand must be prepared to reign in the animosity and regain focus on the positive aspects of its products.
Think about the brands you like and the social networks you’ve joined.How would you like to see those brands interact with you on those social networks? Where do you see that great, big, beautiful tomorrow heading?
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