Will Social Media As We Know It Be Enough?

by · March 21, 201316 comments

I had the misfortune of being home sick last week and watched daytime T.V.  for the first time in years.  Barely able to change the channel, I watched a lot of commercials. What I noticed was a trend in focusing on personal service and hand-crafted products.

The Personal Touch Is More Important Than Ever

Commercials for the Discover Card had the message that when you call, a human being will answer the phone.  And that person will talk to you in a way that feels like you are being talked to by someone who is like you.  Over several different Discover ads, the main character was a completely different demographic, and in each one, the customer service rep on the other end of the line at Discover spoke in his or her accent, looked like the caller and completely understood the caller’s needs.

In another commercial, for Stella Artois beer, the story focused on the making of a beer glass, showing the art and craftsmanship that goes into hand blown glass with the tag line “if this much care goes into the chalice, imagine what goes into the beer.”

At first glance these two messages—personal service and hand-crafted with care—are different stories. But they have something in common.  It’s the human touch.

Being in an industry—the craft business—that is literally about the personal and hand-crafted, I have a unique insight into the meaning that these words have for people.

 

“Made By Hand” Is A Trend About Physical Interaction

My company, Lion Brand Yarn, sells a basic craft supply, which is hand-knitting yarn.  You can take a ball of yarn and make it into virtually anything: a hat to donate to a homeless shelter, a work of street art, or a blanket for the family’s first grandchild.  Everything made with our product has one thing in common:  It is touched by a human being who takes time, and care and adds his or her unique creative mark on it.

I’ve watched the trend in hand-crafted and personal touch grow for about 8 or 9 years now.  It has fueled the growth of our business and of companies like Etsy, that sell hand-made goods and Craftsy, an online education business that teaches people how to make hand crafts. As Chris Anderson points out in his book, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, this trend is about to take a giant leap forward with the introduction of the 3D printer that allows anyone to manufacture one-of-a-kind products of all sorts from digital information.

The maker revolution is a trend that is effecting every industry. People want more high touch activities as a counterpoint to virtual, high tech activities.

Social Media Has Raised The Bar On Communication

As people crave less and less mass production and more and more personal, just-for-them service, products and communication, will social media as it stands today be enough?  Five years ago, people accepted being stuck in voicemail hell for 20 minutes.  That is no longer the case. They want immediate communication through Twitter or Facebook.  Is it possible that as people become more accustomed to personal communications with brands, they will demand more and more from the relationship?

Might social media need to evolve to be even more human and personal? I wonder what that would look like? Is it possible that the human voice and the in-person connections with consumers will become more important aspects of our marketing in the future? Or will it change in ways we haven’t yet imagined?

One thing I do believe is that social media as we know it today will not be enough. We are just at the beginning of the consumer

RELATED:

The Future Of Social Media Is Real

Notes:

Discover Card commercials for different customer demographics showing that the company is speaking uniquely to you.

Stella Artois ad featuring hand-blown chalice.

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About Ilana Rabinowitz

Ilana Rabinowitz

Ilana Rabinowitz is the vice-president for marketing for Lion Brand Yarn and blogs about social media at Marketing Without A Net. Rabinowitz approaches marketing with an uncompromising focus on the customer and a grounding in psychology and neuroscience to understand what motivates people to make buying decisions.  She believes that businesses need to develop their own media as a means of creating a branded experience for customers.  She has spoken at digital marketing conferences including Web 2.0, Blogher Business and Internet Retailer. She is the author of a book about psychology, a book about mindfulness and co-author of a book about the culture of knitting. Follow her on Twitter at @ilana221.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://blog.socialmediahq.com/ Nick Robinson

    Great post Ilana. Your post from 2010 was spot on!

    • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

      Thanks Nick. I always appreciate your comments!

  • Dara Khavaji

    Social media changed the way we communicate. I look forward to how communication will continue change in the future. Thanks for the great post!

    • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

      Dara, You are absolutely right. And, the trick is to try to predict how it will change and be ahead of the curve isn’t it!

  • http://twitter.com/OlaAgbaimoni Ola Agbaimoni

    I liken our interaction with mass media marketing to how the Borg deal with their enemies. For the uninitiated the Borg are the ultimate adversary in the world of Star Trek. Part organic life form and part cyborg they are move through the universe assimilating every species they encounter into their collective – resistance if futile their battle cry. The thing with the Borg is you only get one shot before their force field kicks in. so in order to penetrate their defences you have to continually remodulate the frequency of your weapons. Like the Borg our over exposure to marketing messages means that our defences go up almost immediately. In order to penetrate them marketeers have to continually find new ways of getting past the defences – and it is getting more difficult. Social media will inevitably change because the consumers’ goal for it and the marketeers goal for it are at odds with each other. Marketeers see it as a way to penetrate the defences and consumers want an platform to engage on their terms.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ eBay Virtual Assistant

    It’s a really eye opening post. I am amazed and impressed with your observations. I shall from now on follow the key path and knowledge you have just shared. Bang on post Ilana.

  • http://www.dettie.com/ Dettie Ad Life

    I’ve noticed the personalization/hand made trend lately as well and I agree that social media would need to provide even more of a personal touch level as communication evolves. Great article.

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  • Proffesional Copywriting

    Not enough of the businesses that use social media understand the importance of the personal touch. Automated posts, unanswered comments and a general lack of engagement from the majority of social media business pages would indicate that they aren’t using the tools that they have effectively yet. Social media has all of the potential that you mention in your post but it is necessary for businesses to use it effectively before it will need to evolve.

  • Proffesional Copywriting

    It would seem reasonable to assume that once Google had worked out an algorithm that targeted spam links that they would continue to evolve it to work more efficiently and effectively. The gradual increase in the number of links that Penguin is picking up may also be a development of locating and identifying more of the sources of the spam links and not just due to the improved algorithm.

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