On Iconoclasts and Forced Expectations in New Media

It’s 2011. However, let’s take a quick stock of 2010.

2010 was the year where twitter was elevated beyond the marketing and communication medium that it is, to become journalist’s new media “source”. Politicians were harangued; retractions were made and everyone was pushed to watch their P’s and Q’s.

A few examples:

Sarah Palin (@sarahpalinusa) stumbled with her juxtapositioning of the word refute over repudiate to write “refudiate”, creating a media feeding frenzy.

Benny Morson of the Rocky Mountain News live tweeted a funeral resulting in a problems for the paper, as well as a “Miss Manners” like realization of “don’t liveblog a funeral”.

Mike Wise (@mikewiseguy) tweeted a few fake rumors about Ben Rothlisberger and the Steelers, resulting in backlash from a wide section of the football watching twitterverse and traditional media.

The personal livestreams of people consulting on @park51 became easily confused with that of consultants (including myself) who were working with the account.

Political rhetoric leading up to the the 2010 midterm election resulted in numerous politicians, pundits and politicos leveraging social media to put their two cents in. Typically, as it was either short form (Twitter) or easily taken out of context (Facebook, Twitter), it easily presented a cultural problem which even brands have had a hard time acclimating to.

In a nutshell, it violated Fuller’s law of 20% new for easy acceptance, and should be viewed as a foretelling of expectations to come.

Much of this comes on the heels of expectations carried over from the last dot com boom. Today, holding on to these expectations can affect brand health, political success and in the case of politicians, personal brand.

When we moved from traditional brick and mortar to click and pay models, our Marketing and Advertising shifted. However, our CSR processes, CRM and PR stayed the same. Companies, Politicians and Icons who were accustomed to the “Mad Men” model of broadcasting their messaging and dealing with feedback or pushback through established, traditional means stayed the same.

As Web 2.0 evolved into social media, consultants from a wide variety of industries became new-styled change agents that helped companies market, advertise, address CSR and CRM issues WHILE performing a digital parallel of traditional PR tasks. This shift impacted industry in large ways, as companies were now utilizing the same employees or consultants to address campaigns and issues that were traditionally siloed within corporate departments.

One only has to look at any great Ad campaign to see the integration of traditional marketing with social media (e.g. Ford, Pepsi, OldSpice). In a short span of five years, what was once a traditional Marketing or PR function, has become part and parcel of integrated marketing and social media.

What does this mean?

It means that you can’t run a $2M print campaign and throw $20k at social with wild expectations of results.

It means that the complications that used to arise from a failed campaign are now more complicated.

It means that companies need to have social campaigns that are developed with a sensible strategy and adequate monitoring tools, so they can be tended to in realtime.

It also means that companies will have to deal with a new rank and file of employee or consultant. One that may have an online identity that is superior to your own brand and potentially a facebook fan page with more fans than your product.

These people are Iconoclasts and have a sense of humor and often levity that transcends their work. Simply, they are not your brand. They are their brand, often helping your brand in a social ecosystem.

While politicians are a hybrid of self-identity and brand, most traditional brands lack an identity.

Iconoclasts, in the traditional sense, become much more amplified within new media, as they leverage their consulting or marketing expertise in tandem with acumen for social media and market engagement.

They’re redefining PR and marketing, as well as forming a baseline of expectations for where new media will take MARCOM (Marketing Communications) in the next few years. The impacts on how they engage across new media via social

They also have lives that are separate from the brands they represent; lives that encompass a wide breadth of Millenial and Gen-X attitudes, interests and lifestyles.

In 2011:

Journalists would be best served to start using a crowbar to start separating the Iconoclast from the brand.  They’d also be better served by trying to understand the context of tweets, posts and wall posts prior to using them as “trusted sources” or erroneously reporting details.

Brands, who are dipping their toes in social media, should consider themselves on notice to begin developing reasonable budgets and expectations for both their consultants and campaigns.

Engaged Brands should seek to keep their leading edge, by leveraging metrics and tools in ways that tie their digital advertising and marketing to social media (also PR), video and SEO.

Lastly, we all should take stock of the changing nature of culture. If one can be lambasted in the media mid-year and have one’s “mistake” become word of the year – there’s obviously change afoot that we all need to pay attention to.

Happy New Year!

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  1. I treasure the knowledge on your website. Much thanks!

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