A few weeks ago, while driving around the littered streets of Manhattan, a friend and I stumbled across a billboard — those sprawling, obnoxious monstrosities that obstruct the sometimes gorgeous, often smog-filled skies of America’s largest cities — that read, “Real Ginger. Real Taste.” Hmm, I said. The ad in question was from the infinitely recognizable Seagram’s Gingerale.
The next day, while awaiting for my mechanic to finish my car’s inspection, I decided that I was thirsty. I hadn’t just ran a marathon or anything, I just decided that I was thirsty, and that I wanted to reward my senses with something that was cold and delicious. In the nearby vending machine was Coca Cola, Fanta, and, right beside those two, Gingerale. Mmm.
Despite how people view advertising in general — rarely will you find anyone who won’t complain about them — there is undeniably value in the art of being able to advertise effectively. Value in being able to force consumers to draw that connection — consciously, or subconsciously — between those words and images that might be found on billboards and in magazines and the products that those brands sell. Or, in this case, between the billboard and the vending machine.
But now, with the proliferation of social media, that connection is becoming far more intimate. What was once a matter of simply coming up with the most effective message, has now become a matter of coming up with the most effective means of building relationships. Now that brands are able to connect directly with their consumers, and consumers are willing to connect directly with those brands, brands that are able to effectively foster relationships and create meaningful conversations surrounding their brands will be far more successful than those that aren’t successful.
How That Has Morphed Traditional Marketing
And even traditional means of marketing — i.e. billboards, print advertisements, displays — are beginning to shift towards initiating relationships with their consumers, establishing a connection between traditional means of marketing and the digital realm. One great example of which is none other than Coca Cola’s Hug Me Machine, which literally asked consumers to hug a Coca Cola machine in order to receive a free Coke. That relationship building aspect, which has infested the world of social media, is quickly becoming an inherent part of all forms of marketing.
Now, brands are thinking well beyond ‘spreading a message’. They are asking themselves, ‘how can we start a conversation with our consumers?’
Bringing it Full-Circle
Which all ties into my initial point on the power of advertising. When advertising first started cropping up as an effective means of selling products, good advertising became a matter of developing effective messages that would resonate with consumers. And what that resulted in were less ‘Buy Now!’ messages and more ‘Be [different, smarter, better, etc.]‘ And the ultimate goal of those advertisements? To move products.
Social media is beginning to move in the same direction. What started out as something that was cool and unique just a few years ago, has now become a massive clutter of brand messages and other information. The most successful brands are the ones that are constantly directing their messages towards those that will hear those messages, and begin a conversation with those brands.
And the stronger the relationship, the more likely those consumers will make that connection between the brand’s message, and the products that brand sells.
Tweets, likes and pins are the new billboard.
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester NY Social Media company specializing in advertising, web and graphic design, and SEO.