Let’s begin with a couple of “So What?” questions: A brand has 20 million Facebook likes. So what? A brand’s tweet “breaks the Internet.” So what? What’s achieved, other than an honorable mention at Cannes?
A paradigm shift is needed: from conversation to narrative.
Yes, what technology has wrought is truly amazing. With one big huff and a puff, time and space have been blown away. And in a couple of gasps, marketing has gone from the need to consider person-as-viewer, to person-as-participant, to person-as-content-creator, to person as channel.
But one last transformation is still needed for marketing success. Marketers need to evolve from considering products as brands to considering “person-as-brand.” Nowadays every person wants to be its own brand—to perform, and to be liked, looked at, followed, and bought into.
Now, with “me-as-brand,” the secret to success in social media is not simply entering a conversation, but entering people’s narrative.
A narrative has a plot, has non-stereotypical characters with a point of view, has a mise-en-scene, has obstacles and meaningful conflict, has surprises (non-linearity), and has a sense of an ending (that intimates a new beginning). In contrast, social media, as currently conceived of and practiced by most marketers, is a by-the-numbers transfer of information about a product or a brand, in the hope of attracting the maximum number of consumer eyeballs perusing such a presentation.