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Why Social Media Works (Spoiler Alert: It’s about human connection…not distraction.)

Why Social Media Works

I love to follow the latest crazed marketing scheme. There is nothing more exciting for me than when a company taps into the human experience and inspires a transaction that truly showcases how business can be a microcosm of one group of people being of service to another.

But I hate following the latest and greatest, too. Anyone up for real-time, big data, customizable, programmatic, interactive, digital, automated, re-marketed, converting, experiential branding campaigns? If that question just made you nauseated, you are not alone.

I was recently reading a Fast Company article about Oreo. The humor, the creativity and the willingness to be spontaneous were thrilling. They had tweets that went viral, 3-D printers that provided a customizable cookie experience at SXSW, a prime spot in the latest “Transformers” movie, and a gaming app that actually made money. But the sheer daunting task of creating an organization that can be spontaneous when they are so big, not to mention the cost of the effort, netted the following summary: “And what did this do for cookie sales? Mondelēz does not know … [their] efforts really show that there is nothing new under the marketing sun. Real-time marketing is another gun in the corporate arsenal, and like all the others, it’s damn hard to tell if it ever hits the mark.”

My summary is even simpler: What business is Oreo in?

Entertainment or food? I can’t see their mission or vision in these efforts anywhere, unless of course their mission statement includes the words “to provide escapism at any cost.” Have you ever wondered why social media works?

By all means, get real, innovate and try new things, but let’s not forget the truth that underlies the popularity of social media: people crave connection. We are all seeking ways to feel less alone, to have our voices heard, and to share the human experience. Exchanging goods and services for money is part of the human experience. Here’s a novel idea: let’s do it with more truth, more integrity, and more emotion. It’s the same end, just with simpler means.

 

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