Trust is easily bamboozled.
Like in social media, all you have to do is start a blog and write a lot of content– it doesn’t even have to be original or even good. Next, find partners and create alliances where you tweet, digg and stumble each other’s content. Abuse whuffie to make crowd-sourcing work for you. Mass follow everyone on Twitter, import them into FriendFeed to inflate your subscriber numbers, and then unfollow everyone but twenty on your list. Spam people. Promote under the guise of community. Push. Pull. Publish.
Give your efforts a few months in the oven, and then… voila! You’re an influencer.
Congrats! And don’t worry. It doesn’t matter if you’re actually putting out interesting, new or relevant ideas into the world. Pure hustle, as Gary Vaynerchuk so aptly explains, will do the trick.
These are the mostly unspoken rules of social media. And in a medium that is supposed to be revolutionary, it’s disappointing that not much has changed from the status quo, despite claims that PR and traditional marketing is dead.
“The old way was to create safe, ordinary products and combine them with mass marketing,” Alex Bogusky and John Winsor explain in the little spark of a book, Baked In. We’re repeating the same inefficiencies in social media, however, where the focus on accumulating mass numbers is doing a great disservice to the possibilities.
Indeed, in my own outreach efforts with Alice, I’ve found that individuals with smaller numbers – whether it be traffic or subscribers – often have just as much influence, if not more than those with large badges on display. Bogusky and Winsor agree, reporting on a study that found “news travels as readily through ordinary people as influential ones. Interpersonal networks are democratic.”
We’ve supposedly learned from the likes of traditional advertising that worshiped a spray and pray approach, and yet we still pay credence to only the large influencers. Such an approach could be even more flawed than mass marketing, because social media numbers mean nothing. They’re often so inflated and distorted, that in trying to boost our influencer status, we’ve leapt back into the untargeted and interruptive advertising pool where relevancy and effectiveness drops drastically.
While the smaller scale of social media hides such issues right now – for most Fortune 500 companies, the medium is still emerging – it will soon come out that while the tool is different, the habits are the same.
What we need then, is not an improvement upon or even a replacement of the traditional PR and advertising model, but a complete market shift. “The new way,” Bogusky and Winsor explain, is to “create truly innovative products and build the marketing right into them.”
That, in a nutshell, is why my job at Alice is so enjoyable. We better connect manufacturers and consumers in the giant consumer packaged goods (CPG) market. And in disrupting the traditional retail market, Alice has made it possible to buy all your household essentials online with competitive prices and get it delivered to your door with free shipping. Toilet paper is all of a sudden revolutionary.
And in the few short months since our launch, the service has spread. While that doesn’t surprise me, the ease with which it has done so and continues to (knock on wood) does. Good spreads. Something I didn’t fully believe in until this job.
When good spreads you don’t need all the superfluous advertising and marketing campaigns. You don’t need traditional posturing, marketing gloss, fluff and trickery. Good has the promotion baked in. Creating products that market themselves means tearing down the walls between the company and consumer. No longer do you have to spray over the ledge, but you’re able to join them on the other side.
“In the same amount of time it takes to create an advertising campaign – it’s possible to take all that consumer insight and actually bake it right into a new product. A product designed with a mission. A product with a story to tell. A product with the ability to sell itself,” argue Bogusky and Winsor.
A product with integrity. That is the future of marketing.
What do you think? Does good spread or do you need to give it a promotional push?