Key Point: The world of marketing is getting turned upside down, yet it remains so much the same. Sellers always look to find ways to emotionally connect so we might purchase products. How do we navigate through it?
I just attended the kick-off of the 2018 SXSW extravaganza in Austin, TX. So many insights are washing over me, that I’m honestly struggling a little to sort through what’s going on and how it’s personally impacting me. Let me give you some examples of this headspace swirl I’m in.
- I had a chance to hang out in a cool, intimate setting on E. 6th St. (Dirty Sixth, they call it), with people like Michael Loeb (a high impact billionaire), and “Mr. Crush It,” Gary Vaynerchuk. I was heartened by their genuine focus on encouraging and investing in leaders and companies that both advance humankind AND make lots of money. They both talked about generosity and abundance. How cool is that?
- I also was intrigued to hear 18-year-old entrepreneur, Connor Blakley, founder of YouthLogic, school the audience about how Gen Z thinks and acts. He actively helps brands work with high impact social influencers (Ariana Grande, Pharrell, Kendall Jenner, etc). They have an inordinately big impact on brand performance, (ask Snapchat). And if you don’t understand micro-influencers, you are out of the loop.
- Then I come to grips with Google owned YouTube’s AI driven business model and realize that when I watch a video, their algorithms will move me to more extreme videos. The sad news is that the algorithms seem to point us towards the more intense or inflammatory information, leveraging our natural tendencies to see “what’s behind the curtain.” YouTube knows we have a natural curiosity to dig deeper, because the more and longer we look at videos, advertisement sales go up (see Professor Zeynep Tufekci’s op-ed from this Sunday’s NYT).
- And then I learn about new research from MIT, and find out that lies or false stories spread farther and faster than truthful content. To make it more uncomfortable, the research points out that real people, often barely credible ones from a “follow” metric, are capable of spreading falsehoods every bit as much as “bots” or trolls. Geez (see this article by Sinan Aral).
Ok, and just to put all this in perspective, I went to a health fair at SXSW and bought, from a classic “snake oil” salesman, what are essentially punched out metal dog-tags that apparently will change my electrical system and right 60-plus years of abuse to my bod. (Garrett was so disgusted with my naivety that he reminded me that his mother once banned me from watching the shopping network after the arrival of the electronic 6-pack abs maker ☺).
So while social media, macro and micro social influencers, bots, trolls, hucksters, AI, learning algorithms, fake news, conspiracies, etc. will explode and become trickier in attempting to manipulate us, we more than ever need value-based leaders and astute consumers of content.
Personal Leadership Moves:
- As a consumer, become more aware than ever that little or nothing shows up by coincidence in our online world. Become more knowledgeable of how big content purveyors like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc, really work. Nothing is ever truly free. Be aware of the sincerity of influence from people you follow.
- Leaders – If you’re not truly advancing humankind in the best way, then ask yourself if your business model is worth selling your soul for. Why, not how, might we make the world better AND make money?
Modern marketing and ethics in personal leadership,
One Millennial View: De-monetization, shadow banning, etc, are also new terms that I’ve learned from those trying to navigate the algorithms of giants like YouTube and Twitter within the last couple years. As recently as March 12, popular vlogger and overall positivity-machine Roman Atwood announced that he was going to stop daily vlogs on YouTube and focus his efforts in a separate direction because he believes YouTube has intentions to force daily vloggers to fade out. (He has 14 million subscribers, btw). It’s wild out there, but thanks to awesome information from festivals like SXSW, and ongoing discussions, we can all attempt to navigate these rapids as best as possible. Hopefully world improvement and money making won’t capsize in the “stream.”
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis