Socialganda

Socialganda = Social Media + Propaganda. Socialganda.

Almost a century ago, Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays pretty much fathered what we came to know as Propaganda.

Bernays understood the susceptibility of crowds to manipulation – thus the benefits of being Freud’s nephew. Bernays also understood the properties and possibilities of the technological conditions of his time. As a consequence of both understandings, he was able to fashion powerful ways of forging consent, changing behaviors and maintaining and growing the powers of new or status quo interests.

Soon, someone – or a group of people – can build new theories and practices with which exploit both the latest understanding of human psychology and the technological conditions of this century.

If they can, then they will.

You may not think so – especially if you’re a big fan of Social Media, and you believe that these evolving media are inherently democratizing.

Either way, I encourage you to watch this clip and think about how a 21st Century Bernays would use Twitter, Facebook, Youtube et al – for good or ill (if you’re short on time, go to 2:43 minutes):

My sense: Socialganda is achievable. Social and other digital media and technologies make it both easy and hard – easy because the tools are proliferative and easy-to-use; hard because they require constant attention and investment and creativity. Given sufficient capital, technological and labor resources, however, states, corporations, political action groups, terrorist networks, etc. can deploy successful operations.

To appreciate the possible future, consider the traditional function of Intelligence agencies. The primary role of Intelligence agencies is Public Relations. The “spy” stuff is important but not primary (although they make for more interesting movies). The ROI on shifting public opinion is far greater on effecting change than the complex “on-the-ground, behind-the scenes” work and logistics.

There’s no more effective way to sway public opinion than to conduct an operation right in front of the public. Every day we see operations but don’t really *see* them – either because of the “eyes wide shut” phenomenon and/or the cognitive dissonance and other cognitive biases we all have inherent in our monkey minds. This is why these  operations can be so effective. Throw social media and increasing digital ADHD into the mix, and I expect to see in a few years an even more easily manipulated public.

Given enough resources and willpower and diligence, Socialganda will become a powerful new mode of ensuring that special interests proliferate and maintain their hold.

It’s not all bad: you can develop your own Socialganda skills, or at least be on guard and keep in mind that the Internet is pretty much a hallucinogen. Knowing where you are is part of finding the exit.

Anyhoo, I’ve just coined a new word for the 21st Century: Socialganda.

I have no doubt this will happen. The question is: who will be the skillful exploiters of this new iteration of propaganda? Or will we all be the propagandists, mutually misleading ourselves off the proverbial cliff of ignorance?

Socialganda. Get ready for it.

@PhilBaumann

484-362-0451

The Vaporization of Marketing

Nuclear weapon test Romeo (yield 11 Mt) on Bik...
Image via Wikipedia

Was your company blogging ten years ago? If not then why? Google made it easy for you and now you’ve lost ten years of priceless link juice. Given the fragmentation of media in the last ten years, it’s clear now just how relatively little work you actually had to do back then. But that’s in the past. Still, I have bad news for you: what you have to do now is far harder than it was ten years ago. Let me explain.

CONTENT FRAGMENTATION AND SOCIAL DISTORTION

As the Web expands and proliferates novel media, messaging becomes increasingly diffuse and fragmented. The Web creates new opportunities and destroys old standards. It disrupts communication patterns, rattles social structures and ruptures attention spans. Ten years ago, you could leverage your audience-building skills for acquiring and retaining customers. You could even have learned and mastered a skill which traditional marketing didn’t really demand: conversational aptitude.

But now the honor of your presence demands you to be at many different places at once. You not only need to know how to create captivating content but you also need to know how to converse and lead with such conviction and remarkability that it could almost require you to be loved.

The choices open to you grow. Where to begin? Where to be? Twitter? Facebook? Blogs? Youtube? Foursquare? Gowalla? Flickr? The dozens of other places yet to come along? And if you show up and listen and play, will you be good at it? If you’re not good at it, you’re not going to achieve anything.

Here’s the biggest challenge for companies struggling to “figure out” social media: the convergence of Strategy and Practice becomes increasingly elusive as the Web mercilessly evolves.

What do I mean? Strategy and vision are essential parts of ultimately getting business done. But strategy without planning and mechanics and process worked out, nothing gets done: the going concern becomes aimless and bankrupt. Much of the daily work that has to be accomplished online has to be done manually and personally. Furthermore, the work has to stand out so it can be kindly remarked from one person to another.

Much of this work may not fit into any strategic category; as a consequence, the strategic directives can easily diffuse and lose their trajectories. Once that happens, it’s easy to lose balance and focus and clarity.

THE VANISHING POINT. BTW, JUST WHAT IS THE POINT?

The one question every executive asks every time a marketing or PR agency or internal manager tries to push social media is this: What on earth is the point?

Many of us who live in the echo chamber have answers. Or statements we think are answers. The truth is, however, that this is a vital question. The whole enterprise depends on it.

There’s no doubt: the Web is the place to be; and companies need the skills and confidence to incorporate all media into their day-to-day routine. But the vaporization of the Web creates a situation where:

  • so many choices have to be made;
  • conversations need to be quality and sincere;
  • attention spans are short;
  • messages are now real-time;
  • traditional Search is being disrupted;
  • new technologies are emerging which don’t necessarily communicate well with other
  • the prospect of walled gardens is rearing its head

Contrary to Social Media evangelist claims, the Web is becoming a mess. Messaging is being liquified, subject to evaporation – and worse: your message can be easily replaced with someone else’s within seconds.

Marketers used to have a landscape they could map out. They could harvest farms of attention. They could plant their feet on the ground and develop real estate which they could mostly control.

But the new landscape isn’t on land. It’s vaporizing. The vaporization of marketing will get worse. Not every business will figure out the point of being online, let alone be able to cultivate a captivated audience and converse real-time. Most will just be talking to themselves and an imaginary audience.

That’s what happened to Pharma giant GSK because they had too many meetings and consults and fears on how to do something as simple as running a blog. Mind you: this is a company with over $40 Billion in assets and which employs some of the smartest people in the world. From an investor’s perspective that’s managerial irresponsibility, indicative of severe creative anemia.

What’s the point? isn’t something you ask and answer once and then move on. No: it’s a daily question. It’s no different than asking What’s the point of our business?

The problem is this: there isn’t a point. Or one single point I should say. There are many points. All kinds of purposes and opportunities and needs. A thousand points of light flashing and fading and distracting.

This is only good news for marketers who have creativity, muscle, chutzpah, intelligence, pliancy and permission. For the rest, it’s a disaster waiting to happen – no matter if you play or not. The Vaporizing Web is Scylla and Charybdis for businesses.

HOW TO HANDLE THE VAPORIZATION OF MARKETING

What to do? You can read a million how-to posts, hire big agencies who know how to price and bill, attend overpriced conferences or have tons of meetings littered with streams of buzzword-stuffed PowerPoint presentations. But I’ll give you one simple answer:

Don’t take it so seriously! If you do, you’ll vanish into a mushroom cloud. 🙂

A sense of humor and a style of lightness are enduring qualities of successful long-run presence, especially online. Once operations become chores and jobs they cease to be useful. The Web is the end of the assembly-line.

If your business doesn’t know how to have fun and to be spontaneous and swift, it probably won’t survive this century. Capitalism is destructively creative. It’s also creatively destructive. The Age of the Farmer is coming to its close. It’s Hunting time now. Prepare yourself for war.

You’ve been warned and advised. Questions? Call me: 484-372-0451 or Skype: Phil.J.Baumann or Twitter: @PhilBaumann.

Tweet This Post

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Do Normal People Follow Big Pharma On Twitter?

Do “normal” people – patients, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, life scientists, etc – follow Big Pharma on Twitter? I’ve long had a hunch that most of the followers (and by followers I mean people who are actually paying attention) of Pharma accounts are primarily consultants, marketers, PR pros, social media evangelists and others interested in Pharma’s use of the Web (including myself).

So I decided to gather the key words in the profiles of a select group of Pharma companies. I used the service TwitterSheep to generate tag clouds of these profiles. This isn’t a purely scientific approach, but it’s reasonable enough to provide some insight into whose following Pharma. My friends Silja Chouquet (@Whydotpharma) and Andrew Spong (@AndrewSpong) each provided great insight into Pharma and Twitter. You can read their posts here and here, respectively.

Based on the tag clouds, here are the top ten key words in the profiles of followers of selected Pharma companies:

  • Pharmaceutical
  • Medical
  • Healthcare
  • Time
  • Social
  • PR
  • Marketing
  • Research
  • Web
  • Health

“Normal” people don’t have words like Marketing or PR or Social or Pharmaceutical in their bios. Now, I don’t think this is a bad thing. Pharma’s adoption of Twitter is relatively recent. But I don’t think that Pharma’s providing the most value that it could with its primary audience being marketing professionals.

Here’s a slideshare of screenshots for each tag cloud of the eleven accounts I examined (if you can’t see the embed, check it out here):

Pharma’s core base – patients and physicians and pharmacists and health care organizations – are the most valuable followers. Pharma certainly can’t do things that non-regulated industries can do. Nonetheless, Twitter does have many diverse business values: dissemination of news, consumption of relevant content, engagement with followers who can spread positive sentiments within the community and many other practical uses.

Currently, it’s not clear what specific goals Pharma companies have with respect to Twitter. Each can have completely different goals – and most of these accounts are maintained by people whom I’ve met personally. But the concern here isn’t so much about how Pharma companies are using Twitter (that’s another discussion). For as much as Twitter is about the humanization of communications and the ability to converse, audience is still a critical thing to build.

I realize Twitter’s still a shiny new toy for some industries (it’s actually a staple of communications for many others), but Pharma needs focuses and purposes and goals as it matures from the unilateral broadcasting skills it honed in the last quarter of the 20th Century towards the pliant, two-way and multi-faceted characteristics of the kind of media which the Web is giving birth to every day. There’s no guarantee that all Pharma companies will learn these new skills and new ways of thinking. There will be winners. There will be losers. Hopefully, it’s the patients who win. (Which is a good thing for the industry.)

What audiences should Pharma focus its tweets on developing, cultivating and engaging? That’s an important question. I doubt the CEOs of Big Pharma companies are terribly interested in dazzling Social Medi Gurus and Marketers and PR Pros. 🙂

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Lie, Disappoint and Steal…21st Century Tips for Marketers

Everyday on Twitter and everywhere else on the web I read variations of this question: “How do I use Twitter [insert a million other social media services] to market my company/brand/product/service?” I see this question raised by smart people who have degrees in marketing or PR and who have worked in the field for years. Successful, bright people ask this question every day. And yet I can’t help but thinking Why such an obsessional focus on gadgets?

Here’s what I think: whatever you market, do it long-term. Forget about gaming the system or the searching for easy-buttons. Realize that the web makes it harder and harder every day to hide your mis-behaviors, shoddy products and miserable customer services from the public. It’s possible. But the brand-cost of lying, disappointing and stealing goes up every day.

LIE, DISAPPOINT AND STEAL…THE OPPOSITES OF

When you know that something doesn’t work – can’t work – looking at its opposite is usually worth a look-see. Established and engrained assumptions and business models that evolved out of the mass-assembly, mass-communication, mass-consumption economy of the 20th Century are collapsing. Micro-assembly, micro-connection and micro-sharing are re-shaping the way we interact with each other.

Do you know what elements you need to succeed in this century? I’ll give you three: trust, hope and sharing – the exact opposites of lying, disappointing and stealing. People need to trust that businesses are reliable, they need to hope that products and services are meaningful to them and they need to share in the wealth created by trusted and hopeful assets. If I can’t trust you, or if I think you’re hopeless, I’m not buying.

HOW TO MARKET. PERIOD.

Here’s the secret algorithm for marketing anything in this century (or any other), the answer to the question I raised at the beginning of this post:

  1. Invest in trust
  2. Sell hope
  3. Share the wealth
  4. Repeat daily.

Sometimes tweeting inspires. If you need me to expand on what I mean in this post, then maybe it’s just not for you. If that’s the case, I especially welcome your comments.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]