Change may be the only constant, but the speed at which change occurs is variable and for the most part, faster and faster as time and technology moves forward.

Technology and the access to it, means that what was once referred to as marketing evolution is now a marketing revolution.

Speed of social

A fundamental difference between the evolution from print to radio to television and the revolution of social media is the speed at which it has taken place. The very nature of social media (the public control of it) means it has the capability to leap beyond normal expectations because it is not as uniformly controlled and formatted as past media has been.

From print to radio to TV, there was a transition period between each where they overlapped, competed, tried to complement each other and then settled on competing in a controlled, regimented sort of way.

Video didn’t kill anybody

Radio didn’t kill print and TV didn’t kill either of the previous two because each had its own strengths and weaknesses and consumers applied those to suit themselves and their needs. Newspapers have always been good at in depth information while radio has been the portable “now” medium and TV has the benefit of combining sight, sound and movement for a more immersive experience.

Passive media or as dad called it, the “boob tube”

What the two broadcast mediums had in common (and it was a supposed advantage to the consumer) was passivity. You don’t have to think too much when listening to the radio or watching TV. If you don’t believe me, just watch a TV viewer in action (or rather lack of action).

This passive approach lent itself to a marketing mindset which was rooted in decades of thought momentum which told businesses to tell people what they should think. It wasn’t important what people wanted, but what you wanted to sell them and if you repeated your message enough, they couldn’t help, but want what you had.

There was a cynical view that people didn’t care to be bothered thinking about what they wanted, but preferred to be told what they needed and an entire marketing industry grew up around that rationale. Why listen to what people want when we can spend billions to tell them what they should have?

As cynical as this POV may be, it makes sense when you consider that up until social media came along, there was no “user controlled” interactive media available. Radio was interactive and even print was to some degree, but not in real-time and both were tightly controlled by the media managers and public involvement was very limited.

An odd reference to a vintage video game

In the old days traditional media controlled the conversation and brands were confident that their media partners weren’t all that likely to toss them under a bus unless they really screwed up. Today, due to social media, brands are dodging traffic like they’re in a game of “Frogger.”

Human nature drives technology

But of course, this isn’t a video game. This is your business and your brand and no matter how big or how small, you want to look brilliant online. So, make sure you focus on the human nature which drives the technology. You know your customers – they haven’t changed. All that has changed is how they are interacting with you. Take some time to consider what people are actually doing with their technology and interact and engage them on their terms.