One of the key benefits of social media is our ability to access the public conversation. From a brand perspective, utilising the key conversation skill of ‘listening’ is an excellent way of understanding what the public sentiment is about a topic or product, getting incidental feedback about their own brand or their competitors and keeping on top of trends and current events.
It’s the type of information that only twenty odd years ago, most would never dreamed of being able to access without engaging the services of ASIO or similar.
But as anybody that follows any kind of political discourse in any country can tell you, this open door to public conversation has allowed the unmediated and unrepentant entry to the conversation for a number of groups of people that previously needed “permission” to be included. This includes, but is no way limited to, women, LGBTI, indigenous people and the young.
Their voices are exploding across the world in ways that are transformative, articulate and challenging.
It’s exciting. Unless you are a person or brand that finds change intimidating. Particularly rapid change.
The introduction of these valid voices are shifting the structures of communication, impeaching on our inherent marketing and advertising prejudices, shaking our inbuilt sense of privilege, and renouncing our very sense of what is ‘right’ and ‘proper’.
It IS extremely confronting to have to rethink propositions and positioning from everybody’s point of view. It is a paradigm shift to recognise that what was acceptable even a year or so ago, is no longer. But that is the beauty of education – it shifts the goalposts for everybody on the field so that we can all play the game. The more people scream about ‘Political Correctness’ gone made, the more you can be assured that at some level they are now aware that they are going to have to change if they want to keep playing.
Social media may provide the platforms for groups, but the issues are not new. Challenging the accepted practices of those that go before us, or indeed surround us, is at the heart not only of revolution, but evolution. To survive we must adapt.
And like all the long standing cultures that exist, it is the stories that are handed down from our elders, it is the evolution of accepted practice and the continued education of successive generations, that allows us to remain relevant.
The story of a successful brand, will always be at heart, reflective of humanity.