The recession hit everyone hard. Yet amidst the downturn we saw the rise of social media. Big brands embraced it with both hands, trying new creative ideas gaining interest and generating momentum.
Things have been extremely exciting on the social media front, and we continue to see the bubble swell. But like any new channel, it is quickly becoming overcrowded, and the consumer is left swimming through junk to get to the information they enjoy.
If we’re going to be hypercritical, creatively and strategically many brands have hit a plateau with social media. Many resort to paid advertising, free sampling and cheap incentives in exchange for a fan page Like. In its rapid ascent, and a thirst from senior management to make social media pay, measures for success have been fabricated. Frivolous measures for ROI include numbers of fans or free giveaways dispatched, and this constitutes success?
There is now a real danger that social media is peaking? Recent stats on Facebook reveal that only 6% of US teenagers want to ‘Like’ a brand. Social media is the platform for dialogue, but who wants a dialogue with every company that has an entry point into their life.
The old lessons around relevance and targeting come strongly into play here but are being largely ignored. And as seen with patterns surrounding emerging channels in the past, email and direct mail, it’s the promotions and free giveaways that appear to be the way to get ahead.
What we are perhaps left with is social media platforms becoming very large coupon sites, portals into money off, and effectively shared databases for the big corporate brands.
So who’s responsibility is it to stop this happening? It’s put firmly in the laps of agencies. It’s our job to keep the ideas fresh, and find new ways to use the technology in our hands for stimulating consumer engagement. Never has there been more need for Big Ideas and creative that extends itself across different channels since the tobacco fiasco of the 50’s and 60’s.
Consumers relish creativity, so brands need big ideas, and perhaps now company executives will remember why agencies are so essential to delivering that difference.