The evolution of media is both interesting and frightening. Interesting, because in my mind, media is the reflection of the society and its changes show where we are heading as a civilisation. Frightening, because, it’s evolving too fast and seems to be out of control.
Before I go any further and jump to any conclusions, let us look at a parallel situation. Let us revisit a story we all have heard as children. The story of the Lion and Mouse – once the Lion was sleeping, when a mouse accidentally disturbed its sleep. The Lion was furious but the Mouse pleaded for his life and pitying him, the Lion let him go. Many years later, when the Lion was trapped by a hunter, the Mouse came with his team and released the Lion from the entrapment.
Now how does it fit in with the topic we are on?
The Lion here is the mass media that has been roaring for many decades. But it slowly developed an entrapment around itself which it failed to see. The entrapment was a monologue. It failed to see the evolution of the consumers which also wanted to share and thus the Lion was trapped and was not able to reach beyond a point. Then the Mouse called social media happened. It helped release the Lion from its entrapment, and allowed it to gain a sense of freedom it never felt before.
To me, Mass Media and Social Media are both complementary and they will continue to stay that way. A lot of initiatives which are possible today using social media were not possible earlier with only the mass media.
Let us look at some of these opportunities and how they have increased the possibilities of engagement, entertainment and enlightenment for both internal and external customers. And all this at a negligible cost.
Chats: The student community is the most sought after community as the future of the human race. To connect with this community effectively, a live chat over social network can be a very powerful tool to engage your future consumers with the leadership of your company. And it costs no money.
Blogs: The thoughts and visions of your leadership can be regularly expressed on a company blog and it can have regular followers who can interact on a decided frequency.
Facebook/Instagram: It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Your happy employees or customers posting pictures with your brand have more mileage for your brand than a celebrity endorsement. It can work as a positive testimonial.
Twitter: Instant connect is possible on twitter with your internal and external customers. It saves you a lot of investment on manpower as fewer people can do the job of a whole call center. And it can be for both good and bad feedback.
Contests: Instant contests can be organised that can help you reach millions of people using your consumers. It can be a great opportunity for brands in the entertainment, restaurant, and experiential businesses where one can have a lot of excitement generated with little investment.
But where does mass media fit in all this. The mass media is and will continue to be the main source of the excitement around brands and companies. However, to make the excitement around brands truly inclusive that involves each and every customer personally, it would need the help of the social media.
Brands today need to understand the basic human desire of what’s in it for me for the consumers when working on brand campaigns and messages. Only then, the money invested on the mass media will get more returns through mass engagement and individual acceptance through social media.
The way I see it, as smart phones get smarter and consumers get savvy, the brands will play the roles of catalyst & moderator to create excitement around brands and this excitement will be created by the consumers themselves using mass media and the social media.
We, as communicators and branding experts, need to adapt ourselves to this new role where from being the content generators, we become the moderators and catalysts of branding around products and services. And the mass media and social media will be the tools at our disposal to create the large performances we will be orchestrating in the future.
Fasten your seat belts…it will be a hell of a rollercoaster ride but I am sure we will all emerge more excited, refreshed and energised from this change. Let’s enjoy the ride.