Active Conversations Are Where Brands Need To Be…

…Whilst people are doing…stuff. 

As we enter a more fragmented and convoluted online landscape I ask myself, “is there ever going to be another NEXT BIG THING?” Duality, post-modernism…are we now post-digital, where the medium no longer the focus? The terms ‘platform agnostic’ or ‘technology neutral’ both lead us to the same conclusion; ANYTHING can be a digital or social platform and it’s users not brands that choose where these are. Not so much ‘tribes’ as Seth Godin would have you think, more ‘nomads’. Digital hunter/gatherers, constantly moving away from stagnant, drained areas and moving towards more fruitful places with something new to offer and like minded individuals. Right now Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are these fruitful places with Myspace or Friends Reunited being stagnant and drained, by 2015 – who knows?

Which brings me to the point of this post. Brands are constantly being told that they need to be where the conversation is if they want to engage with audiences and vice versa. However, there is some narrow minded thinking when it comes to where these conversations are occuring. Facebook? Yes. Twitter? Of course.

However, perhaps the most impactful time to enter people’s thoughts is whilst they are already engaged in another activity. There is a Direct Line banking advert on UK TV currently where instead of being given advice sitting at a desk, the customer (played by Alexander Armstrong) asks the adviser (played by Chris Addison) if they can pretend to play golf whilst they discuss his financial concerns (see below).

Yes it’s a ‘funny’ advert but it does illustrate the point.

Alternatively, your target audience may have a propensity to play computer games. Maybe you’re a fashion brand attempting to get your message through to gamers (who might share the 16-30, male, med-high disposable income demographic). Traditionally you may go for banner ads on gaming sites, Facebook adverts targeted at people who ‘like’ video games or purchasing some email list data for that demographic. Hang on a minute though – if you’re targeting them because those who play video games also show an affinity to your brand, then surely you want to enter their mind WHILST they play the video game. They are unlikely to be in the video game mind set if they are opening an email or on a website, potentially clicking on a banner. No, the messaging may have been more effective had they repeatedly seen your brand whilst playing. Many games these days have a headset, with players having ongoing conversations throughout the game with each other. In game adverts or Spotify style ‘in play’ audio ads might be used. I’m thinking Arduino will come in to this somewhere…

The same concept applies to why mobile will be increasingly relevant and effective. This is nothing new, however worth mentioning – people have their mobiles on them 24-7. Whilst they’re playing golf (see earlier example) their mobile will be in their pocket. Find out when they’re playing golf (as will become known increasingly through the use of location based services) then target them during that round.

So it’s not just becoming part of the conversation online, or even engaging with your audience within their communities. It’s ensuring that your brand gets share of mind during actions that can be linked to real time, digital activity. Robinsons having QR codes on tennis nets linking to web offers? Rather than location check-ins, ACTION checkins. Rather than ‘Rob just checked in at the tennis courts’, ‘Rob just started playing tennis’. I guess we’ll have to wait until activity aware apps come along. Perhaps an app than recognises certain movements or gestures that you make and automatically knows what activity you’re doing.

Who knows? Food for thought though eh?

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