April 13, 2010
 

digiday Presents: "A Star-Twittered Romance"

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An article remix by Tim McHale - original article by Paul McEnany

At some point we've pitted advertising and social media against each other when we should have been marrying those core advertising messages with meaningful social development all along. They're star-cross'd lovers, those two.

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Like the behavior that the Montague and Capulet families displayed, neither social group had any interest in developing a mutually beneficial social connection.

However, Romeo and Juliet's destiny might have been different had they had access to Facebook, Twitter and Nabbr. Imagine for a moment they were net-savvy media buyers. Internally they would have sent "sweet tweets" to the other and would have enjoyed the relative buffer of privacy that personal mobile devices offer to get to know each other, versus the way they were, out in public for all to see and fear. Had they been media strategists they would have used social media in an intimate conversational way; scheduling big-outlet media aimed toward the fair-city of Verona and their families with a message to "Give peace a chance." Communication problem solved.

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But is that just fiction? For most brands, there have been obvious limitations to what can be accomplished when there is no coordination. One gets all the media investment while the other gets none. We know when we advertise sales go up, and when we stop, it's much more difficult to reach expectations. No one is above this media law. Strong as they are, even Google advertises.

This is why we need to get better at wedding these two worlds. Developing and evolving brands to help them become more conversational, meaningful and culturally able to cope with this new landscape, but still using that core of interestingness to focus a brand's appeal.

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Shakespeare's use of dramatic structure, switching between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, his expansion of minor characters, and his use of sub-plots to embellish the story, has been praised as an early sign of his dramatic skill. Words are important. Words can hurt. For example, years ago when the digerati referred to traditional media as "offline" it bothered many people on the traditional side of the business. It created resentment, since it inferred that they were out of touch, or had no interest in learning about the online future. Could history repeat itself if social media evangelists label advertising as "un-social" media? Oh boy....

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The idea of social Branding starts by slowly transforming away from a world where reach and frequency are king, but still takes the best pieces of what's worked before.

Particularly for brands with deeply ingrained bureaucracies, we need to slowly and tediously replace the levels of process, the fear of the off-message, the red tape, with transparency, open communication and the encouragement of experimentation.

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But those changes can be juiced from the other side as well. Those pretty advertising messages are often a company's most recognizable outward expression of who they are. As such they certainly can go a long way in helping change how a company sees itself internally, too. Not dissimilar-ly to how you might feel in a new pair of tights. Certainly not enough to be truly different, but probably enough to make you feel good about those 5 pounds you lost and give you the confidence to lose 5 more in order to serenade sweet Juliet under her window, or be serenaded, whatever the case may be.

It's that soul that can help us find the motivating message, that focused positioning that moves people to get beyond just liking us and get to liking to buy from us. And from there, we can build the platforms for conversation; insert the people and new processes that make our communication more cumulative and extendable. And only then will our outreach work that way it truly can.

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The poetic destiny that Mr. Bill envisioned for each of his different characters changed as the form of each developed. It's Day Two in our business for the second half of 2009. It's still early enough to for each of us to learn, like Romeo's use of sonnets to allure Juliet into his arms. Shakespeare wrote 150+ sonnets over the course of his lifetime. Someone on each side of the advertising vs. social community should put a pen to pad. A glass of red wine might be the thing to get a little media romance started.

So this is where we are. We need to find the center of what makes companies interesting and different. We need to help companies build cultures based on sharing and transparency. We can help corporations feel much smaller by understanding how to peel back the layers and reveal the soul. It's the humanizing elements that allow us to get to building the outward expressions that make the change feel more real both internally and externally.

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Let's all begin by asking "Wherefore art thou."

To read Paul's original article, please click on, "The Marriage of Advertising and Social Media."


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