One of the lessons we learned over the last few years is that it was extremely hard to get someone to migrate from the analog to digital world. If you wanted someone to visit a web site, advertising on a billboard on the highway was a long shot. If you wanted a video to go viral, handing out DVD’s was not likely to work.
But as our phones have almost overnight turned into powerful little media/networking devices, that translation from analog to digital has actually gotten insanely simple. But more than that, everyone with a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. page has become a publisher. And like any publisher, they are desperate for good content. So if you do something interesting in the real world, people will instinctively reach for their phones to document it and share it with their virtual world.
And as my Facebook and Twitter streams get drowned out by corporate initiatives and ambitious entrepreneurs trying to hook me into a relationship of mutual engagement, I have come to re-appreciate an old-school analog form of communication. One that’s a little bit renegade, likely posted in an illegal location, made only of paper and hung with a thumb tack. One that makes me smile and laugh and does not ask for anything in return. There is no known author collecting kudos or thumbs-ups or retweets.
Of course I wouldn’t have seen these if someone had converted these old-school flyers into pixels and posted them on-line.
It’s one reason why we have started rethinking what “social media” means. For the last few years that has meant managing and creating digital content to be shared on-line. But we feel like the definition can be much broader now.
For instance we made these lawn signs knowing full well that they’d work on two levels: as, duh, lawn signs. But also as a funny bit of content that people would take pictures of and share.
And more savvy marketers are doing stunts and events with the understanding that the people who are physically present aren’t the most valuable audience—rather it is the secondary, potentially enormous, on-line audience that really matters.
For instance, Hyundai in Malaysia recently did this amazing projection/installation/event. It is truly amazing, and must have been mind-blowing in person. But notice when they cut to scenes of the crowd, virtually every single person is holding up a camera recording the event. And also notice how you are watching the event right now three weeks later, 12,000 miles away.
In short, sometimes the best “social media” strategy is to not make social media. Rather it is to make something fascinating. Then let everyone else turn it into media and then make it social.