Oliver Stone’s latest movie Savages is based on an acclaimed novel about the drug war. Beyond the subject matter author Don Winslow’s goal in writing the book was to try and get at the fractured nature of the way we receive information today. Winslow says, “It’s constant and it’s in short, jagged bits. Even the way we talk to each other. … Any given moment, we’ll have the television on, but we’ll also have our computers on. Someone’s tweeting us, someone’s calling us, someone’s texting us, someone’s Skyping us. I just think that society these days gets its stories from multiple directions, in multiple ways at once, so I was trying to reflect some of that.”
As marketers that is the world we live in. Are you still living in the world were you buy reach through traditional media? If not, how big is your online and mobile presence? And a Facebook ad campaign is more of the same. Social media is about influencing the conversation through so much more than marketing. It requires change and corporation in departments across the corporation. Comcast Cares on Twitter and now Facebook is really a customer service function coming out of operations.
Another lesson we can draw from Winslow is that you don’t have to do drugs to write about them. His inside knowledge of the drug culture didn’t come from doing drugs – it came from research – formal research into books and reports, but also just listening. “A lot of it was a matter of talking to people,” says Winslow, “and that’s almost misstated; a lot of it was listening to people.”
Are you listening to your customers online – both the advocates and detractors? Do you know your Net Promoter Score? You might not like what you hear, but if it’s negative you have to fix what they are talking about even if it’s an operations issue. And at the same time you need to encourage the positive talk through engagement and reward.
One final point is about point of view. How many of us forget that we are not our target audience and that not everyone thinks and talks like us? Winslow discusses character development saying, “… then all of a sudden I’m typing from the point of view of a twenty-something Orange County woman, which I’m not, but I know a lot of them, I’ve hung out there a lot.”
How much time have you spent hanging out with your target audience lately? Physically hanging out with them would be great, but there’s also a lot of great social media listening tools these days such Google Analytics and Radian6 that make it easy. The insights you gather will be great, but so is the reminder of what your target really thinks.
You may still be getting used to losing control of your brand, but behind the savage environment of the social web, there can be a sophisticated marketer influencing the culture of your target and the conversation about your brand.