“The Swindle of the New” vs. “The Authority of Experience.”
User-generated content has taken our world by storm. It challenges us to redefine journalism, marketing, organizing, educating, creating. Social media is continuously creating opportunities for innovation and within that digital storytelling is an indispensable tool used by every industry. But, because digital is oversaturated, the bar for cross-media branding climbs ever higher.
Social media is commercializing exponentially. It is the premier destination for native advertising. A tremendous volume of literature is devoted to dominating this uncontrolled space and raking in the earned media attention. Social media is enormously relevant, but is it the best form to engage your audience?
Communication and Storytelling
Literary scholar Terry Eagleton pits, “the swindle of the new,” against what he calls, “the authority of experience.” Social media innovation is not social innovation. What is new and exciting cannot replace the age-old, intrinsically human space of interpersonal interaction. Face to face. One-on-One communication.
In episode 14 of the Show Runner Marketing Podcast, host Kathy Cunningham sat down with Laura Wolf Stein, Director of Marketing at the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), to talk about digital versus interpersonal storytelling.
“We use digital for so many things,” Laura said. “But we have to remember that in terms of bringing new people into the tributary, social might not be number one way.” According to Laura, CAF depends on digital media not for acquiring new supporters, but for engaging the ones they already have. As an incredibly social organization, CAF finds success through what Laura calls “the human dimension.”
“We also make sure that someone from the foundation is representing at a lot of different events,” Laura said. “So, a lot of our supporters do their own fundraisers. We have lots of athletic events where we’re the beneficiaries. And large or small, we try to ensure that we have a high “touch” presence from someone in the foundation, there to give it a human dimension. And typically, the best thing to do is for staff to get out of the way and for our challenged athletes to deliver the message and to be the ambassadors.”
Humanizing Calls to Action
Malcolm Gladwell writes that “social networks are effective at increasing participation – by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires.” Gladwell was writing about high-risk activism, but his words bear resonance in the world of marketing too. Successful social media campaigns often have simple calls to action: sign a petition, retweet a candidate running for office, wear a t-shirt supporting a cause. They complement the larger, human calls to action: change your mind, put your safety in outside hands, give your time, etc.
What Laura and Kathy both realized as the conversation progressed, was that social media is crucial for forging what sociologist Mark Granovetter calls “weak ties,” which also have a place in our society. Those weak ties act as catalysts for action but cannot themselves begin a movement. What brings athletes to Laura and the CAF is not a tweet or a radio ad, but a complex network of human interactions. Personal exchange lays the foundation on which social media builds.
Kathy Cunningham says, “We definitely relate to that. At AM Strategies we strategize on the perfect mix of all media, PR, and direct customer interactions to ensure you “touch” your consumers in the most powerful way. Whether it’s social storytelling, engaging testimonials, employee word tracks or video pre-roll, we make sure your message is seen by your “best” customers digitally and reinforced personally!
More on the Show Runner Marketing Podcast:
The Show Runner Marketing Podcast was born of Kathy Cunningham’s dedication to recognizing female leadership in communications. The Show Runner Network is a space that is dynamic and inclusive, where women have a platform to share their experiences and learn from each other. Each episode is a vehicle for inspiration, combining to create a network of influential industry executives. These are leaders of their respective field who just happen to be female, and Show Runner seeks to highlight their stories to celebrate and normalize the presence of women in executive roles.
“Interviewing successful business women like Laura is inspirational for me and I learn so much from each guest. Mentoring comes from different places and my hope is that the Show Runner Podcast Network provides a way for more people to access mentoring and advice at their fingertips. And I think it’s a nice way to start the day with intention and positivity.”
-Kathy Cunningham, Founder & President of Advanced Marketing Strategies and Host of the Show Runner Network marketing podcast.
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