As I signed into Facebook this morning to read the daily news feed (who reads the newspaper, right?), I tuned into The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos – Canada’s very own prince charming – introducing the social media pundit, Seth Godin.
I got a little excited to see him being interviewed on the show, partly because I’ve read some of Godin’s works and tune in to TED talks whenever he is presenting, but also because I live, eat and breathe social media myself and am often enthused to hear what he has to say about social media marketing and where it is headed.
However, I did become a little disheartened when Strombo mentioned Godin’s take on advertising and where it was headed… and it sounded like it was the toilet.
Godin argues that 2012 will see a drastic change (perhaps an end) to the industrial age, where society is moving away from the idea that people are doing what they are told to do and getting a pension for it or some sort of safety net.
This year, however, we will start to see a shift towards a “pick me” society, where individuals are starting their own movements without someone telling them “you’re hired!” People today are understanding and deciding that they can make an impact now, rather than wait for someone to tell them that they can.
I think this has already started taking place, what with the Occupy Wall Street movement being a prime – and the more obvious – example of people power. We no longer have to ask for permission anymore; we can do what we want, regardless of the consequences.
The Internet is perhaps the greatest facilitator for this form of freedom of speech (to a certain extent), especially if your content is considered appropriate to a site’s gatekeeper. If you have access to the Web and create a free account with YouTube, for example, you are halfway there to making yourself an Internet star.
And that is the beauty of the web. If a person finds something unique about you or discovers an inimitable talent you wish to showcase, people will start to like and ‘like’ your work, pick you out of the crowd of clutter and share with all of their friends. Difference makes a difference.
So… where does advertising fit in? Will it become completely impractical now that the citizen is the driver that is control of his or her own success? How can advertising be utilized when people are regulating their placement and their message?
Perhaps advertising will have to adapt to some sort of real-time campaigning and co-create with their audience simultaneously. Advertising can no longer rely on their own creativity, but start to co-produce content and crowd-source what the majority is talking about at the time. It will most likely be a faster and more current industry, but a hard one to keep up with nonetheless.
Moreover, advertising will have to think of more ingenious ideas of how to facilitate products to customers as supposed to simply glamourizing their features. Siri, for example, allows users to access voice activation and ask their iPhone to send an e-mail to a friend, as opposed to trying to type in the name in the phone directory.
As technology continues to evolve, society is finding themselves more independent and capable of functioning on their own. But someone still needs to teach them how… right?! Amongst all this independence, there will most likely be more of an emphasis on pull vs. push advertising, where users seek their demands via technology (as opposed to more in-your-face push advertising).
Although advertising may be a dying breed, it does have the potential to save itself. We may, however, see more of a lean towards public relations firms standing in advertising’s place. Now that people can essentially create storylines from their own bedrooms (Jenna Marbles anyone?), our culture is more attune to seeking advice and reassurance from our peers than a stranger behind an ad.
As PR continues to evolve and adapt in a society that is demanding more of it, a more informative approach would benefit our culture, as well as a step-by-step operation to guide individuals into a realm they have for so long awaited. And that, my friends, is the gate to freedom.