Brand Streaming: Marketers’ Latest Plan to Kill Social Media

Scott: Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:40 AM

Oh, Lord.  Just when you thought it was safe to go back into your social networks, marketers are continuing their quest to ruin them with what they now call “brand streaming” or “the continuous creation, curation, distribution and optimization of highly targeted, high-quality content.”  Continuous?  Seriously, don’t you feel like most brands talk enough?  I think many never shut up. What they really need to do is EXACTLY the opposite: listen.

Just once, I would love to see a corporation’s highly optimized listening strategy.  You know, listening is very underrated yet critical part of the whole communications process.  I could draw you the little circle diagram with the arrows from junior high, but I think you get the idea.  Fun fact: did you know that listen and silent contain the same exact letters?  Hmmmmmm  In honor of Arsenio winning the Celebrity Apprentice, there’s your deep thoughts…discuss.

I recently got an e-mail pitch from a service that offers “brand streaming” services which they define as “the rapidly emerging strategic approach for communications professionals to deliver on the business opportunity of instantaneous, always-on interaction with influencers, customers and prospects – and to quench their audiences’ thirst for high-value content.”  Now let me un-suck this mess for you — it sounds like a ton of junk posts that I don’t want because the only brand that I want a continuous relationship with is oxygen and I even stray from that when I’m swimming.  Back off, oh ye needy brands.

I love the “thirst for high-value content” line.  Really?  Here’s what I think – consumers want to go on their social networks to connect with THEIR friends and see what their friends are doing and finding of interest, not what your brand thinks their friends might like.  BE REAL, people.  Social media is about being an actual human organism without a strategic approach to deliver always-on yada yada, bs, bs, bs.  

Be real. That’s all you have to do and it’s not exactly climbing Mt. Everest because with any luck you are actually real to someone, probably someone who doesn’t know you in your official business capacity, but you are.  I know it.  Deep down in the places we don’t talk about, everyone is real with someone or a group of someones.  Now take that real-ness and apply it to your communications strategy and you’ve just mastered social media communications.  Congratulations!  Again, it’s not like working with plutonium, folks — experiment and have fun with it.

Lest you think your business needs to convey a more professional appearance and couldn’t possibly be real with your customers, you need to get over that idea, get this concept and jump aboard this train.  If you don’t, you will soon be like a company making quality buggy whips when everyone else is driving cars. Those old rules about brand “touch points” “control” and “professional” communications that have been properly sanitized for public viewing by legal or corp comm are as out of style as dark socks and sandals.

I also agree with Gary Vaynerchuk (author of The Thank You Economy)  in that his premise that given enough time “marketers will kill everything good.”  They mean well, but before you know it, they have all the brands in the world streaming and we all have to leave and find a new park to play in before they fill that one with the dog poop that is most marketing messages.  BTW – dogs stream stuff too and it’s no more pleasant to be on the receiving end of that. A recent survey showed that more than half of Americans think Facebook is a fad. Maybe. But the idea that people want to use technology to connect to the people and things that interest them the most and push everything else out is here to stay.  In fact, watch for consumers to get REALLY good and keeping marketing messages away in the next few years.

And if you want to stay part of that consumer’s news feed, please don’t stream them. Instead, just listen and respond to them and be there when they need you and sufficiently gone when they don’t.  Then you’ll get what you’re after — earning your brands small little place in their big world.  Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go block a bunch of high quality, continuous “brand streams” from my feeds.