All to often people see the pace of change and lament that they can’t keep up. Or they worry that they’re missing out on something critical. And so they throw up their hands, and give up on keeping up.
Consider trying to get your head around Google Wave, a technology still in development that proposes to let users interact in real time across a multitude of sites. WTF? Even the demo leaves most people in the dark.
But start reading the coverage an you’ll learn that you and your friends can interact with each other at any time, regardless what site you’re on. So consider shopping for a car, where both you and friend can customize the options simultaneously. Or a creative review where parties from all over the country can add their feedback to the page, rather than watching a webex.
Lightbulbs going on?
Embracing change, and the pace of change is no longer optional for marketers, or agencies. What is happening online will dramatically all of our lives.
- The role of focus groups will change dramatically, as we get more and more visibility into the daily lives of our customers.
- The expectations of our customers will grow at the same time, as they create more connections with the brands they favor.
It also means that our clients will no longer have the luxury or challenge of deciding where and when to engage with social networks. They may will have outposts on the popular sites like Facebook. But even if they don’t, the social networks will come to them. That means we will have to view all our projects as social networks.
Forrester goes so far as to predict that social networks will gain enough clout to demand traditional brands adapt their products to the wishes of the masses.
So what is the shell-shocked executive or agency veteran to do?
- Start thinking beyond your friends list. Read status updates and news feeds on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter as if you’re sitting behind the glass of a focus group. Realize that you have insight in how dozens, or even hundreds of people are thinking.
- Use every tool you can find. The era of social networks breaking through into the mainstream is over. If you’re still waiting for an engrave invitation, here it is. Play with every site that comes along. Use the ones you like, abandon the others.
- Don’t get too comfy. Today’s status quo is tomorrow’s ancient history.
- Be cautious, not paranoid. Certainly think about the information you are sharing and make sure you limit your exposure to invasions of privacy. But don’t live in fear of hackers invading your life. Seriously, does telling people what TV shows you watch put you at risk of financial ruin?
- Remember measurement. Ultimately we are about creating experiences that advance our clients’ business. It hasn’t been about clicks and page views for a long time. Look for new ways to quantify the experiences you have online. Is it an engagement metric (how often you update status)? Or should the measurement be reach (how many friends you have)? It won’t be the same for any two clients.
But most of all, enjoy. Consider the world at your fingertips today, and what’s coming tomorrow. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan — Are you better off today than you were four years ago?