I used to work at Channel 4, which readers in the UK will recognise as one of the most creative and subversive broadcasters in the business. Channel 4 has a reputation for occupying the bleeding edge of innovation: it pioneered reality TV with Big Brother, broadcast the first ever gay kiss to show on primetime with Brookside, and (to choose an example from the less populist end of the scale) consistently wins awards for the fearless quality of its news and documentary journalism.
It’s no surprise then that when it comes to digital media, Channel 4 is at the front of the pack, effortlessly working across multiple platforms and engaging its audiences in ever more inventive interactive relationships. When I got the job, I panicked, set up my first Twitter account and bought an iPhone (hey, I was young and impressionable).
So you can imagine my surprise when my very first day brought an almighty tirade from my boss against what he termed ‘The Gurus’.
Over the past few years we have all had to keep up with the dizzying speed of technological change, and right at the front of the pack was the social media ‘guru’. I use the term disparagingly not to represent the intelligent and clued-up experts of their industry, but the people who insist on turning a new tool into a new clique; the early adopters who aren’t sure why they’re adopting; the people who ram their platforms down your throat yet never have time to reply to a polite email.
They take to new technologies in a puppy-like fashion, but I’m going to put my neck on the line here and make this claim: they actually hold back the tide of progress. Their evangelism scares people off, and their vague posturing when it comes to tangible results speaks volumes.
Some industries have shown a degree of reticence in keeping pace with digital Darwinism. Often they are overwhelmed by the pace of change and unsure where to start; more often they have yet to be convinced of the return on investment. Enter the new vanguard of inbound marketing: measuring the results against real business objectives.
This is a baton that has been wisely taken up by such PR experts as Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks, who recently commented: “Integrating social into your PR and marketing programs is no longer an option…and neither is not measuring your efforts to real business results….It’s time to learn how to do this, no matter what your level of expertise. It’s the only way to keep social, well, social and keep your job from becoming extinct.”
The new wave of digital marketing:
- Thoroughly researches and examines the brand to better understand its key strengths and tone of voice
- Sets clear and measurable objectives for the campaign
- Outlines a strategy based on a firm understanding of where the customers are, and what content they want
- Creates strong content supported by two-way conversations and maintains those engagement levels
- Measures the results against the original objectives and presents these clearly and accessibly to key stakeholders
If the digital guru is the excited kid of marketing, we are now seeing him grow up, buy a suit and confidently claim his place at any boardroom table. Which we all know is precisely where he should be.