Monthly Archive: May 2012

To Foster Quality Conversations, We Need A Much Slower Web

The Information Age is no bed of roses. For all the promise in the Web and genuine excitement over digital connectivity, there’s another sadder story to be told. One where we can’t seem to focus for more than a few moments at a time. This article, for instance, requires a shift to a slower mode — one where reading, reflection and thinking can occur. Yet, everything about the online environment is geared for speed. There are so many dopamine hits competing for your attention at this very moment, my call for A Slow Web — a contrary idea if there ever was one — is almost certain to be only partially heard, and soon lost in the wash.

Plus, speed and agility, the pillars of real-time marketing, are tough contenders. Tim Hayden, Edelman Digital’s senior vice president of mobile strategy, says, “Effective communication is a real-time responsibility, no matter the time of day, location or individual person we are trying to engage or influence.” He also believes lack of a relevant response to events or conversation on social media may “kill an opportunity to drive interest or purchase consideration.”

I agree with the basic premise that brands now have a responsibility to engage. But unless there’s a customer service issue at hand, people aren’t exactly waiting around for brands to talk to them, offer them deals, and so on. When you work inside the MarCom beltway, there’s a tendency to inflate the importance of brands, and real-time marketing does this, consciously or not.

Bottom line, I want to see brands offer immersive experiences. Something that breaks up the chaos and distractions inherent in digital media. In my opinion, advertising that lacks an experiential opportunity is dead on arrival. People need to feel the brand, in order to care about it, remember it and share it. And a strategy that emphasizes lots of little ideas and/or real-time marketing doesn’t provide that.

By immersive experiences and experiential opportunities, I’m specifically calling for offline solutions that close the loop on online leads. But it is also possible to go deep online, it’s just not a common practice. Imagine a brand with the resources to talk with (not to) tens of thousands of prospects and customers each day. That’s one-to-one marketing on a grand scale. A brand that can employ 500 “voices” might be able to log 10,000 engagements per day. I’m thinking Tweet rallies of five-to-ten minutes, and more intimate IM sessions (and video chats) as the relationship grows.

Bottom line, it’s about intention. It’s great that brands are showing up for the social. The next step is to migrate beyond cheap broadcast-style updates. There are plenty of appropriate places for one-to-many, but one-to-one is the most promising approach for establishing purchase intent and brand loyalty. And one-to-one takes time, patience and resources.

If you jumped to the conclusion, dear reader, here it is: A Slow Web makes real-time relationship marketing possible. For context, see above.