Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The antisocial brand

Today, every marketing conference, agency boardroom, brand planner and marketing director are propagating the importance of creating 'participation', 'two way dialogues' or 'engagement'. Brand morals preaching that your brand must become social, you must be conversational, you must make friends, dominate marketing conversation. It’s become scripture; Social brand good and profitable, antisocial brand bad and broke. While there is a truck load of academic and practical merit behind this theory, id like to take on the unpopular side of disagreeing with it, purely out of the joy of disagreeing with self proclaimed social media gurus.

As always in our industry, for the purpose of simplicity, It helps to use human beings as examples or metaphors to simplify an argument. Now imagine one day showing up to the office and every single person in the office tries really really hard to be friendly. Imagine it for a second....your office filled with people sauntering around cracking jokes, striking up meaningless conversations in the lift, sending cute forwards to one another, wishing each other a ‘good day’, signing off every email with a smiley face or giving you fist bumps in meetings. You’d off yourself by lunch. The thought of some of the characters across your office being sent into social overdrive send shivers down your spine. The reality is, many people are just not built to be social and there’s no shame in that, ill be the first to admit I’m one of them. Some people are naturals at striking up conversations, others aren’t. There are fewer more awkward things than forcing sociability on a character not suited for it. Instead, we as regular shy people, recognize our limitations, keep to our friends and establish fewer yet, I could argue, deeper connections. Some people are simply not suited to be social.

On the other end of the spectrum are the uber social people, who also coincidentally happen to be the most annoying people you know. They are the huggers, the squealers, the oh my Goooooooooooooders, the people in dire need of attention begging to be liked both in real and virtual life. Extend them onto facebook and you’ve got impulsive updates, innumerable comments, terabytes of pics, showers of compliments and lots of annoying quotes that don't belong to them. Overly social people simply piss us off. The point I’m making with both examples of these two very different people is being social, doesn’t mean being liked, in many instances it could result in quite the opposite effect.

So, back to brands. I’m sure by now you’ve already caught onto my point. Like people, brands have a character, and I don’t mean in form of the ingenious branding documents clients pay hefty sums for. I’m referring to real characters. The genetic makeup of a company’s character is a composite of the people running the company, the culture, the products, the environment and many other variables. Like people, some of these company characters are not conducive toward social acceleration. If you take 95% of the regions advertising and personify it, you’d wind up with a considerably aggravating personality, preachy, boring, uninteresting and obtuse, not someone you’d want to participate, engage or have a conversation with, unless obliged. Most of us, work on or for some of these brands, and by no means should we take it insult to this reality, I’ll be the first to declare that some of the brands I’ve worked for and on are prime examples.

It is these very brands that I’d argue get further by being antisocial than they would by being social. If you do not have the company character that enables you to genuinely generate participation and a personality that people would want to spend time with, pretending to, is only going to place you in a worse place than where you started. If you’re an annoying brand in a burden category, your mission shouldn’t be try and get people to hang out with you and inspire an 'emotional connection' instead, your objective should be; how do I make interactions with consumers as brief as I possibly can. The few interactions I have had with my bank mades me hate them. Recently however, I’ve notice myself growing fonder of them with every fewer interaction I have with them. I don’t want to be friends with my bank, I don’t even want to hear from them unless I have a question, request or suggestion. So be honest with yourself, ask yourself; is the company I work for annoying?If the answer is yes, then I assure you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ignoring every social media douche that makes you feel insecure about not having a facebook group. Keep your definition of participation limited to questions like ‘how can I create an interaction that’d make future interactions briefer and smoother’. People respect a brand more that knows what it does well, and gets it done for you without trying to be your friend over a brand that’s trying too hard and wants you to upload a picture of yourself with a biscuit or bribes you to ‘like’ them. Contrary to popular belief, antisocial brands can still remain as profitable and as successful as any other example of a participatory brand. There is nothing wrong with some brands simply being antisocial, accept it, embrace it, people will respect you more.


Anonymous rajiv said...

Social networking is a great way to market a product. In fact, it is a proven method. However,I also agree with your point of view but then, it is always hard to leave a proven method and opt for something which is still not worked out.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Nice Blog as usual, but...

I’ll be the second to admit I’m one of the people who not build for being social; BUT, looking at other people point of view, some hate silent and for them we are the boring one... So it’s not about the brand itself, it is about your target audience!

EX: I started working in Heath Care Marketing and on my first meeting, I was trying to convince my Director that advertising for Health Care and Hospitals is waste of money; it was abou word of mouth and it will always be. “We might be the last people that you want to hear from....this is the last place you want to walk into, Hospital, doctor’s office! Who want to see an ad and think about disease and pain", I said. All research papers and balabala that I have read claimed the same that grow in Health Care is all about internal marketing and word of mouth, and our call monitoring result was showing the same.

Then, my director said something interesting, "you can be the most beautiful girl in the whole world, but if you stay at home and don’t talk with anyone, you will stay single for rest of your life." I laughed then I thought about it… now let say if I even go out but do not communicate or don’t know how to approach others, again they might not even see me.

So, we decided to try, and we did... print ads, social media, and website, what was outcome? We start receiving calls!

Years ago word of mouth was the most effective medium, a month ago was traditional advertising, yesterday was BTL and today we call it Social.

Remember in one of your blog that I saved you wrote “A brand is a function of what people have experienced in the past. In reality, most products omise etc.

The moment something changes (either in consumers lifestyle circumstances e.g they get wealthier or poorer; or the introduction of a better alternative; or if the brand lets them down; or if they simply get bored because the brand has failed to innovate in product terms or in its image) they can easily change brands. Simple as that. Choice is a great thing. Brands that fail to stay innovative and fail to have a point of view on the world will lose out. “

And something has changed, the media and the way people interact and communicate.

Whether we want or not, brands are bombarding us with any type of advertising, but still good advertisement from any media stands out, make us laugh, and make us think in any category Below, Above and now Social.

Advertising is an ocean, hard to be the big fish, but if u not the big one then u need to be unique and smart to grab your target attention.

You know why I love advertising, because it’s unpredictable like some of the people, but not all.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Kaustav said...

I agree with you 100 %

9:22 PM  
Blogger Anees Khan said...

Nice thoughts there, keep it up. I a post on similar thoughts some time back

4:28 PM  
Blogger Arif Zulhilmi Bin Abd Rahman said...

Would be lovely if you integrated Facebook's like button on your blog so we can like and share your posts :)

3:15 PM  
Blogger Decadence said...

I see you have a good point there. I must say i agree with what you are saying!

6:13 PM  
Anonymous ZAINUL ABIDEEN said...

Your suggestions are acceptable but migration from the established methods take more time.

11:54 PM  
Blogger RH said...

Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back.



12:58 PM  
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7:26 PM  
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7:33 PM  
Anonymous Bali Hotels said...

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7:34 PM  
Anonymous SEO said...

Really nice article :)
Every article on your blog is absolutely readable. I can learn something new here everyday.

Thank you very much!

11:56 PM  
Blogger Addy said...

Very right social media is more effective in giving quick traffic then SEO. I think it is better way of doing online marketing. Similarly every online marketing agency is promoting social media.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous ipsol@ccnp certification said...

Today interacting with people has become easy,as many options are available.

10:48 AM  

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