Mar 16, 2011

Profound Social Change

written by Daryl Woods
wood block type

This post is about integrating social media in your marketing. It won’t get there immediately so skip ahead a bit if you like.

Recent events in my life have forced me change the way I do things, if only temporarily. Imagine eating a meal in total darkness. That was the challenge at O.NOIR restaurant where I attended a fundraiser for the blind. After a few empty forkfuls, we all had to cheat and use our fingers to find the food. It was a humbling and provocative experience I won’t soon forget. A few weeks later, I hit the ground running, literally and wound up with my arm in a sling. But I had work to do! I compensated by putting my iPad box in my lap for mousing and using my left hand only on the keyboard. It was awkward, painful and slow but manageable. You do what you have to do.

There will be circumstances in your life that force you to change – new job, new boss, new technology. Yes, especially new technology. Perhaps nothing in the design world illustrates that better than producing type. When I found the stock photo above of wood block type, I thought, “Perfect!”. But there was a reality issue. The image was right reading. That’s technically backwards. To illustrate a point, I’m forcing you to read it the way a typesetter would have set it – reverse reading, right to left. I’m sure you made the adjustment.

When I started my design career, computers were uncommon. Consider the challenge of moving from a huge drafting board to the 9″ b/w screen of a Mac SE. Then learn Pagemaker, Illustrator and later, Photoshop. As soon as you gain command of the tools there is the inevitable and infinite upgrades. Learn. Change. Repeat.

Computers and software changed the way things were done but not the end results. Marketing and advertising of the print variety still ended up as ink on paper. Enter the World Wide Web. A whole new ecosystem with an entirely different language. And designers needed to be a part of it. During the dot com boom, websites accounted for about 80% of my business.

So now let’s talk about social media (if you skipped ahead, start here). As presented above, I’ve experienced some momentous changes during my career but none compare to the introduction of social media. For marketing, technology changed the tools for creating the message. The Internet changed where. Social media turns the whole process upside down.

Right now, you either get social media, are wondering about it or feel totally confounded. But as a marketer, it must be top of mind, or should be. Your MBA didn’t prepare you for this. To succeed in social media be prepared to give up a lot of Marketing 101 preconceptions. Forget pounding the message. You’re talking to people now, not at them. They have a voice and they are empowered to use it. This is personal. This is a relationship. Think less about selling and more about providing your customers with the information they need to appreciate your product.

Social media evangelists would have you believe that social is the only way to go. I think many of them don’t take their eyes off their various screens long enough to realize people do still watch television, listen to radio and read magazines. Albeit no one they know. I advocate integrating social media into your marketing strategy. Think augment versus replace. Don’t just get on Facebook or Twitter because you think you should. Define your objectives and goals. Evaluate how social platforms can enhance your efforts. If you’re starting something new, make social media a spoke in your wheel.

Social media is not a fad. It isn’t going away. The hype will die down. The value will crystallize. And you will adjust and prosper in this time of profound change. Again.

  • Anastacia Dacruz Mar 17, 2011 Reply

    Awesome work! Keep posting good material.

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