On the Other Hand

featured-crewcallLast month, we talked about the idea that the big voice in marketing and product success is now the small voice, the collective voice, and largely as established by social media. I gave many readers to think that I was in favor of the voice of the masses being the loudest voice.

Not necessarily.

A wise man once said that democracy was the principal of 1,000 people being smarter together than any one person, which is demonstrably not true in many cases. Unfortunately, autocracy, it’s converse, is based on the idea that one person can be smarter than 1,000 people, which is also demonstrably not true in many cases.

The problem with the masses is that they are by many standards less well-educated than in the past. Newspapers and journals gave way to television, which gave way to the Internet, which is currently giving way to social media. In each instance, the message became shorter, more condensed, more subject to opinion, and more driven by the momentary verdict of the masses. If you’re in advertising, this is your heyday. It is much easier to swing the opinion of the masses with short punchy messages that was to sway the opinion of an interested individual. You no longer need the white papers as much, if you can have a short video go viral on YouTube.

As I mentioned last month that I was off to ISE in Amsterdam, let me tell you a little about how last months commentary on the use of social media in trade shows rang true.

First, I was there working with the rAVe crew, who were covering the entire event in video, audio and text for the rAVe website and for social media. My prediction that the crowd would be Tweeting live about everything that was being introduced came true in spades. Not only was there an immediate announcement via Twitter and other social media sites each time a new announcement was made, it was immediately retweeted by dozens of groups that I follow, producing a digital noise floor that was hard to overcome. I had to shut off my tweets being forwarded because my email inbox on my cell phone was constantly full of the same announcement from dozens of people. So, obviously, my filtering technology needs to improve. Another thing that I noted about this was that there was very little factual commentary on the product demonstrations or announcements, only a lot of emoticons and Internet speak (ROTFL) attached to the same announcements.

The webpage coverage was obviously better. On the webpage, especially on our webpage, we had videos and actual demonstrations posted on hundreds and hundreds of new products and announcements. The savvy users on Twitter were Tweeting links to these pages, as opposed to just repeats of other tweets.

The manufacturers, and especially their marketing companies, were paying intense attention to all of this traffic. Many had it displayed constantly in their stands, and were commenting on it as it appeared, adding to the conversation, and to the noise.

What does this means all of us who are looking for information? Basically, to me, it means that the content of your message and your announcement is no longer enough. You must also get the noise level up. The problem there is getting heard among all the other people who are just getting the noise level up. Because there are a lot of them.

Goodness knows, there are a whole lot of new people specializing in how to get the message out right across social media (Thanks, Emily). And with time, they will adapt its use to the hectic environment of a trade show, and get better and better at this specialized application. In the meantime, is up to us to learn to use the incoming information stream better, and to employ the old-fashioned technique of paying attention to the thing in front of us without immediately listening to everyone else’s opinion on it.

So is the voice of the people the voice of God? In many ways it is, and always has been. In marketing, if you can get the crowd talking, you’ve achieved your first goal.

The new goal: to get them thinking.