The State Of Social Media Marketing is Not So Depressing After All

I recently ready a blog post titled – “The Depressing State Of Social Media Marketing” by Mitch Joel (btw, I highly recommend both his podcast and the blog) lament about how brands are not realizing the true potential of Social Media.

In my opinion, the vision being proposed by Mitch or by Chris Brogan, Seth Godin or Nilofer Merchant is the extreme end of the spectrum of possibilities for social media.

However, what we don’t realize is, that in order to be able to realize that vision of enabling connections/conversations, the entire marketing strategy and execution (to a certain extent, of the entire organization) needs to change. Such a change is not only too complex but lacks an owner/sponsor within most organization, due to which is not even attempted.

In my opinion, every brand has its own set of challenges and priorities and I think it is ok for each brand to use Social Media as they want to use it, as long as it helps them in overcoming these challenges.

What does that mean? A brand might decide to go the full way and want to realize the vision proposed by these stalwarts, i.e., start creating connections and having conversations. What does that mean for a company like Coca Cola or Virgin Group or a Dell Computers or Walmart or Zappos or Louis Vuitton? Will coca-cola want to have a connection/conversation with all their customers? I don’t think this is even practical for such an organization.

However, Louis Vuitton might want to connect and engage with all their customers. Now the question is what do they do?

  • In order to have a meaningful connection or conversation, the brand will need to know about the customer, his preferences, his past purchases, his interests (which are publicly shared on the various social sites) and
  • This is only possible if you have the CRM system running at Loius Vuitton is able to identify a customer through their social profile and collect and organize these information and create different personas for their customers and
  • Then create conversations around his/her interests.

This is no mean task if you have to do this even for a few hundred customers let along a few hundred thousand customers.

What Coca-Cola might want to do is to create an specific kind of association with their brand (Happiness). So, their content and social strategy would be very different. They would like to engage with communities instead of individual customers, which they have done very well in the past year using some amazingly integrated campaigns, which has led them to win the marketer of the year award at Cannes.

Some other brand might want to use social media as a channel for service and support. Their engagement with their customers is more in the real world than in the virtual world. That is fine as long as that is part of a deliberate strategy.

Expecting every brand to use social media from our own perspective is not being fair to these brands.

I think as long as the brands have taken a strategic decision (which supports their overall business strategy and goals) about how to leverage social media, they should be fine.

Though, I understand and totally agree with the vision that these experts have about social media and the impact it can have on businesses, I also think that the state of affairs is not so bad after all.

What do you think?

Targeted Advertising Vs Intrinsic Advertising

There has been a lot of interest lately in “Big Data” and how this will allow marketers to create campaigns that are targeted towards every individual consumer and hence will drive the consumption economy.

I would like to differ on this. Though, there is no doubt that soon marketers will have the capability to be able to draw up and run such campaigns, I don’t believe that this form of advertising will be very effective. Our minds have the innate ability to mask everything that it does not want to see or acknowledge. Hence, the success rate of advertisement, however well targeted, will always remain low.

Compare this with the fact that, we all want to read fascinating stories, watch scintillating movies, listen to scintillating music. Our mind automatically wants to observe and focus on these. Have you ever noticed the fact that your 8 year old child may not remember a lesson he studied in the morning in school, but he is able to recollect the story of a movie that he saw a couple of months back.

What this means for marketers is that it is better to move away from intrusive advertising (however targeted the message is) towards intrinsic advertising (which is to create great content like a video, music, piece of literature that people want to watch/listen/share around the product/service that they want to market).

Coca-cola has done this very very well in the past, which also led them to win the Creative Marketer of the year at Cannes 2013. The campaigns that they have focused on in the previous year have not been on their product but to create some very interesting campaigns that by themselves were very interesting stories.

The ability to either create such beautiful content in and around your  brand/product/service will be the best ways to advertise in the future. The focus is to create content that people will want to share.

Do you agree? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please comment below or share your thoughts with me on twitter by tweeting to @rmukeshgupta.

PS: My personal favourite campaigns by Coca Cola are as below:



Two Awesome Campaigns: A Cancer Hospital and A Cola

What could be common between a hospital trying to treat kids with cancer and Coca Cola ? Simply amazing thought process leading to some of the most creative campaigns that I have seen lately.

Hospital Campaign:

A.C.Camargo Cancer Center treats children with cancer. The first and the most important in the treatment is the belief of the patient in the treatment they are being given. No amount of talking to these children could get them to believe in the treatment. So, in association with JWT, they came up with an awesome idea to get these children get totally involved in their therapy and start to believe in them.

The idea is explained in the video below:


Coca-Cola campaign:

Coca cola has been using “Happiness” as a theme for some time now. One of the things that makes people happy is the ability to share good things with our friends. The campaign managers wanted to help their customers fulfill this need to share things with friends to feel happiness. Result is the new design of a coke can which one can easily share with their loved ones and spread happiness.


What is common in both these campaigns is the fact that the designers have empathized with the end user and designed an experience around what they really want. Also, they created an entire experience for the customer.

I am really blown away by the creativity and the results of both the campaigns.

Have you seen any other examples of such designs? Do share by replying to the post or commenting below or tweeting it to me @rmukeshgupta.