“The social media landscape is continually changing.” – @kamichat

This is such an important concept for modern day marketers to grasp (myself included) that I have the reminder smack dab in the middle of my home page; right before highlighting the statistics of ongoing social challenges.

With so many changes come the same number of marketing challenges, and there is one I consider most alarming. According to the 2016 Social Media Examiner Industry Report “92% of marketers want to know which tactics determine growth.” This is concerning because it tells me that marketers aren’t listening but rather grasping at the next internet fad sweeping the world.

Remember fidget spinners? Do you honestly want your brand to be the next fidget spinner? Or would you prefer it to have the longevity of Ford? I don’t know about you, but I’m building Fords!

I may not have been in the marketing industry as long as some, but my passion for the trade has pushed me to learn two very important lessons that apply to marketing at all levels. 1. Never stop listening to customers. 2. Never stop testing the ever changing landscape.

While sifting through all the changes that go on, (at an exhaustively rapid pace) it will only become more important for brands to identify and adapt to real time shifts in consumer purchasing habits.

As an eternal optimist, I have hope for what the future holds for digital communications and the another major shift has been brought to my attention that is sure to impact every company’s existing social media strategy.

There are very blatant periods throughout the history of communication where we can point to major shifts in the way humans connected. One of most the most historic was the invention of the telephone, which brought humans instantly together through voice. Fundamentally dissolving the need for Morse Code, the telephone almost instantly made a once vital communication tool completely obsolete.

Voice is on the verge of disrupting what we consider vital communications, all over again. Perhaps even close to making traditional marketing models completely obsolete. If you think it can’t or won’t happen, think again.

Tell me, how many CD’s (that you spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on) are you still listening to today? When’s the last time you picked out a movie at a Blockbuster? If you can’t relate to those, in about six months from now we will be living in a world where your grand kids will think of Toys R Us the way we think about Woolworth.

The point is, just because it’s working today doesn’t mean it will be working in five years from now. Being mindful of ongoing communication sifts is no longer a nice skill to have in your hip pocket, but vital to the success of any marketers strategy.

In a July 2017 article by MarTech titled, “Building an Amazon Alexa Skill is so easy, Grandma can do it ” they capture the impact that voice first is making in an entire generation of future consumers.

“Last holiday season, the Amazon Echo was at the top of everyone’s wish list. Amazon sold a lot more than they had expected, and they had difficulty keeping the product in stock. Estimates place the number of devices sold at over 9 million, about nine times what they sold the year before!

And this year’s Prime Day yielded similar, impressive success. With those kinds of numbers, as marketers, we really ought to be thinking about ways to capitalize on that momentum. One way is by building our own Amazon Alexa apps, known as “Skills.” 

Paul Shapiro

Director of Strategy and Innovation, Catalyst, Boston

Currently there are four different “skills” that are available to add to Amazon devices. What’s better, audio files can be uploaded (in your own voice) then easily looped into the “daily flash briefing of up to 9 million users. Users who are increasingly going to the internet less and less, unless they absolutely HAVE to.

The first thing I thought of is, “how will this affect advertising!?!”  Well, apparently I wasn’t the first to have that thought as a 2016 Forbes articled titled, “Voice-First Technology Is About To Kill Advertising As We Know It ” already addressed a Quora Conversation in which members feverishly discussed the topic. This all happened back in 2016, it’s now 2018 and voice first devices continue to rise in use. Google is clearly aware, and very concerned. This could even be why we saw the release of Google’s version of The Echo during the holiday season of 2016.

The point is, all the heavy hitters in the marketing and advertising sphere are alerted and adjusting to voice first. Heck, Gary Vaynerchuk has an entire chapter dedicated to it in his most recent book, “Crushing it”, and even SNL took notice.

Although these shifting communication changes were already in the works long before today, it’s interesting how human behavior affects the advancement of such implications. For instance, if you’ve been monitoring the social world in any capacity you have most likely seen that two major social platforms are in major trouble. Or at least, they are at the moment.

These are just two examples of why we’ve seen mass exodus resulting in behavior shifts that effect communication. We’ve also witnessed over the past few months, users can have a powerful ability to impact everything from market share to profitability. This apparent rise of influencer marketing creates a space where no company is safe from becoming the next Blockbuster.

In reality, we’ve been sitting on a major communication shift for years. Being in the midst of it may muddy the waters a tad, but when the residue settles we are all going to wish we listened, adjusted and increased the frequency in which we allow customers to lead the way rather than cling to what we perceive to work best.

As marketers we need to be listening, and not just to whatever new fad is capturing our attention.

We need to care more about our customers than profits.

We need to get our hands dirty within the communications landscape so we can observe, predict and adapt before we too become obsolete.