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From Entertaining to Collaborating
Posted on April 1st 2014
In my article From Advertising to Engagement, I outlined the three crucial transitions that organizations need to go through when implementing social as a core competency in their marketing activities. In my last post I outlined the first of these three:
From Interrupting to Connecting -- the new marketing style starts with the curation of communities.
In this post I will address the second:
From Entertaining to Collaborating -- your customers have things they want to do, and when you connect with them instead of interrupting them, you have a chance to work with them.
And then will go on in a third post to address the final area: from informing to supporting.
Let's start by understanding how marketers currently work at making us see interruptions (advertising) as not being interruptions. What could make an advertisement not seem to be an interruption? When it makes us laugh? When it is art? Although not everyone can agree on what is funny, or what is art, or, more broadly, what is entertaining, these approaches have been the primary tools of the advertising industry to rise above the simple annoyance of interruption discussed in the last article.
And to be sure, many advertisements are entertaining. Great advertising is in its own way an art form and the creative talents that work on these advertisements are often very successful in creating memorable images, taglines, and even stories. The best of these seep into our culture and become a part of the way we talk and the way we think about the world.
But very few "entertaining" advertisements are as entertaining the second, third, or fourth time we see them. Typically the laugh or the art in advertising is ephemeral. And even when an ad does have a lasting and memorable impact, it can be very difficult for the average consumer to remember the connection between the ad and the advertiser. A whole industry has developed side by side with advertising to measure the success of such advertising and to understand whether people watching an entertaining advertisement actually remember with which brand it was associated. And if they do remember, is the association positive?
But the real question the marketer should be asking, especially in the connected age where they should be focused on engagement is when and how entertainment should be used as the content strategy for getting people's attention. In the high art of advertising, marketers merely presume that it is less irritating to make an interruption that entertains.
But marketers can do so much more, even using the building block of entertainment -- in focusing on engagement with customers, marketers can transition from merely entertaining to collaborating.
As discused in my last article, customers don't want to be interrupted, even if that interruption is entertaining. When we go to a movie theater or the symphony we are chosing to be entertained by a particular medium for a particular length of time. In these cases we are "collaborating" in a certain very limited sense in that we have elected to become a part of an audience. When an advertisement pops up in the middle of a favorite television show, we have not chosen to be an audience for that message -- it is merely interrupting. But marketers can use collaboration as a way to get us to choose to be engaged with a company's message.
Collaboration can take a number of forms: example archetypes are:
1) commentary on content
2) co-creation of content
3) user-generated content
4) collective action or problem solving
Where entertainment was an attempt to add value to interruption, collaboration can be an activity which adds value to connection. Collaboration can engage companies with their markets around new product development, marketing a product, selling a product, or extending a product experience through some new activity related to the product.
Starbucks, for example, asks people to work together and with the company to develop ideas that improve their stores. Cadbury created Jivebrow in order to invite fans of their chocolates to create new versions of their television advertisement. And Lego has supported and contributed to a number of independent collaboration communities around its bricks, including BrickWiki which offers detailed information, all collaboratively created, on building elaborate projects with Legos.