Peter Diamandis, a renowned futurist and co-founder of Singularity University, stated in a recent blog post entitled How Advertising Will Get Way More Personal – and Then Vanish Completely: “social media marketing has replaced virtually the entire traditional advertising industry. That took fewer than fifteen years,” citing the colossal advertising revenue of just two of the technology giants: Google and Facebook.
Taking into account this exciting context of accelerated change that we re witnessing, he makes a prediction that, far from disturbing, I think ought to spur us to reflect and, especially, to adapt and evolve: in just 10 or 12 years, the entire Social Media Marketing sector will disappear and, with it, advertising as we have known it.
I think this is good news for those of us who are passionately dedicated to this profession, as it augurs new times and new challenges to continue learning and constantly refining our business model. And it portends the privilege of being able to participate in this revolution, being active agents of change. Later I will address what that horizon of just a decade will look like.
In the meantime, in ourday to day in 2020, the massive adoption of social media is glaringly evident. In this regard, we can speak confidently of a mature market. Another issue is how this discipline is being managed now, and whether or not we are dealing with an undifferentiated market.
I can only speak for myself and my experience over the last 12 years in this sector, and I believe that Social Media Marketing is not a commodity service. What is undifferentiated –and I believe sometimes also mediocre– are the criteria based on which some companies buy or provide this service. Below I flesh out this reflection, based on the enthusiasm and love that I have always had for my profession.
- It is difficult to provide this service as just one more item in the portfolio of communication activities available on the market.
- Nor is advantageous to commit to lend it by ear. Where is the global vision of Social Media, conceptualization, strategy? What about the magic that this discipline brings?
- Even so, it is easy to infer that there is part of the market that buys or will buy the aforementioned models, especially if the supply is accompanied by a pricing policy that devalues the service and, as a consequence, the overall category.
- When the format of the relationship established between the two parties is based on subservience of the service provider, then they lose projects, lose the brand for which they work … and we all lose.
- Respect –mutual, of course– must be based on a reciprocal exchange of value. There is no respect when there is no basic information, or specific objectives, or no consistency in the criteria (different subjects, different points of view), and much less when the thin line of service devolves into pure servility
- Nor is there respect when your company is not only the spontaneous liability of the service buyer, but also directly becomes a financial entity. In the face of all this, I consider it best to say “enough”.
- I also think that it is much better to stand up and say “no” when they try to impose tired criteria, or pilgrim attitudes: the obsession with the number of followers of a social network over their quality, and interaction with them, and between them; the ridiculous cult of the “influencer”; the navel-gazing social narrative that is irrelevant to a community that you have created, and with which you have undertaken a huge commitment; the tendency to want to believe despite objective evidence provided by smart Social Media Listening tools, and analysts; the imposition of tactics, of the short term versus strategy, and the paralysis of fear and procrastination in a fast-paced world in which it is sink or swim, and nobody will wait for you
- Special mention should be made of acts entailing the misappropriation of ideas in contest contexts, or even throughout the provisioning of recurring services. It is better to point it out and report it than to bite your tongue. By the way, Blockchain as a way of preserving intellectual property is the best technology to deal with possible litigation.
Fortunately, all of the above is not the norm. There are companies and brands it is very rewarding to provide services to. And there are collaborative work scenarios that are very intellectually satisfying, involving co-creation and the implementation of projects that are unprecedented, with advanced professional qualifications, a common acceptance of risks and challenges, learning from mistakes, respect, and true exchanges of value between the parties. These are the only scenarios in which I want to continue working.
There are also many Social Media Marketing agencies that have made and continue to make a difference in terms of excellence: SocialMood, GoodRebels, WeAreSocial, among others. And there are agencies from other spheres and independent professionals that stand out for both their vision and the quality of their services in this sector.
Considering everything I have just said, I turn to the question posted in this blog post’s headline: no, we are not in a commodities services market, which is why Social Media, as a marketing discipline, is not going to disappear.
What is going to happen –in fact, is already happening– is that it will evolve towards greater personalization, towards hyper-personalization, as Diamandis says. The connectivity, engagement and online interaction that social networks make possible are now joined by interfaces based on Artificial Intelligence, such as voice-bots, chat-bots, and other exponential technologies that will render the individual’s relationship with brands even closer and tighter: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Robotics, the Internet of Things, Sensors and Connectors, Drones, 3D Printing, Quantum Computing, Synthetic Biology, etc.
In relation to this latest technology, Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering at Google, and co-founder of Singularity University, predicts that in the 2030s we will be able to extend the biological frontal neocortex into a new synthetic neocortex; that is, our brain may be directly connected to the Cloud in which we digitally store all our information. And not only will it try to access it without the intermediation of any type of technological device, but it will be able to enhance even more functions, such as our emotions, cognitive abilities, spatial intelligence, self-consciousness, sense of self, etc.
What role will advertising, in any of its forms, play in this context of an individual much better informed and empowered for autonomous rational and emotional decision-making?
Peter Diamandis argues that each of us will have our own Artificial Intelligence, which he calls J.A.R.V.I.S (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System). JARVIS will be an extension of us.
In this regard Kurzweil and Diamandis agree that we will see an exponential increase in our intelligence as humans. With JARVIS and our synthetic neocortex helping us make purchasing decisions, we will be immune to any stimulus or advertising action that seeks to persuade us.
It may seem like science fiction. Too futuristic, even unbelievable, right?
Twelve years ago I met Nigel Barlow, an international coach in Innovation and Creativity. I will always remember one of his messages that guided my entrepreneurial stage: “today is much later than you think”.
By Ángel González