Fast Company

Digital Marketing: Beware of S.O.S. (Shiny Object Syndrome)

Close your eyes and think back to 2004--the dark ages of the social media revolution. For most early adopters, business success and self-worth were judged more by the number of followers they could amass than the quality of the relationship or value of the content they could exchange. Smash cut to today. Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, blogs, apps, mobile, and location-based offer targeting platforms make the range of digital outlets calling for your attention dizzying if not overwhelming. But should you spend your limited time, energy, and resources checking off the boxes of everything you "can" do, or focus in on doing what you "should" do better? The pros say the latter.

Instead of investing the time to authentically engage in discussions with their customers through social media, many companies look to outside advertising agencies to manage their Facebook page or for a magic elixir or tonic to "fix their Twitter problem." And that's a big red flag according to Mike Troiano, long-time varsity ad guy and Principal with Holland-Mark Digital who recently unfollowed more than 10,000 people on Twitter to enhance the level of meaningful connections within his own network.

"People don't want inauthentic bullshit. They want intimacy. And intimacy requires dialogue," Troiano says. "Social media is not a campaign. It demands a sustained commitment over time." Long-term success requires achieving a high-level of intimacy with your followers through your messaging and content while also mitigating the inherent tension created by the scale that social media platforms create.

Much like the social networking revolution of 2004, we are now on the cusp of a similar mobile marketing movement that will require consistent messaging across all channels--from what is presented and promised from a fancy Web site or Tweet, to the in-store experience of each customer.

Matt Schmitt, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Reflect Systems, says alignment of social media, mobile and in-store digital media is the first step to building a successful strategy. "Everyone must be on board and agree that they need a digital marketing strategy. They will also need to secure buy-in from their vendors who are concerned about shelf space, competition from private labels, etc." However, according to a recent Global Mobile Maturity Online Survey conducted by Forrester, many companies have been slow to react--roughly 33% of respondents indicated their mobile strategy is less than one year old. "Until recently, in-store marketing was just digital wallpaper or repurposed TV commercials. Now it is evolving into shorter form content, text messages, and augmented reality."

Whether you're the CMO of a Fortune 50 company or an early-stage start up looking to put yourself on the social media map, content and strategy are now more important than ever. "There's usually more upside in improving your quality of execution than there is in increasing your quantity of tactics," said Troiano.

Think about your digital marketing strategy. What will you do to improve the quality your execution and avoid the dreaded Shiny Object Syndrome?

Find Shawn Graham at CourtingYourCareer, on Twitter @ShawnGraham or via email at shawn(at)courtingyourcareer.com.

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4 Comments

  • Matt Schmitt

    Great topic and very timely. Michael's comments further solidify what we've been seeing. Social Media and mobile technologies are not just another "broadcast" medium for promoting one-to-many promotions. Personal engagement is key. Creating a conversation with consumers is a two way street and it's great to see more examples of cases where it's being done right.

  • Shawn Graham

    Thanks, Matt. You are also definitely doing some really cool stuff in the digital marketing space. My in-store shopping experience will probably never be the same.

  • Mike Troiano

    Great, piece, Shawn. They key point here is just to maintain some balance... the truth is usually somewhere between what the cynics and the jihadi's believe.

  • Shawn Graham

    Thanks, Mike. You've definitely been the tip of the spear in the push to building meaningful relationships through social media. Scalable intimacy hits the nail on the head with an oversized carnival hammer.