As individuals, we exist increasingly in a world that accommodates one person and one smartphone.
When is the last time you saw a smartphone owner more than arm’s reach from his device?
Day or night, the mobile obsession maintains a fever pitch. That loop between human and machine is ever tightening.
And this is just the beginning. In the next three years, global smartphone penetration is expected to exceed the 50 percent mark, and in five years, global smartphone subscribers should hit 3.4 billion, according to Forrester.
Things Are Looking Down
Go anywhere, especially a crowded place. Take note of how many people are locked into their smartphones. This small and self-referential cycle of consumer and device is the target of every performance marketer.
But is content marketing fueling an ever increasing downward spiral of self-absorption and entitlement?
Forward-thinking marketing theories recommend meeting people where they are. But where are they? Traversing a busy corridor, smartphone in hand, oblivious to other humans. Or they’ve grounded a crowded airplane in order to use a laptop more comfortably.
The concept of service has expanded to include expecting others to tolerate increasingly self-involved behavior.
The Violet Beauregarde Problem (aka Me, Myself, and My Device)
Is the problem marketing personalization? Or is the nearly universal expectation of service due to smartphone adoption? Content and mobile devices, in combination, yield a potent social toxin.
This is the age of content, of inbound, of going out and being there for the consumer, rather than interrupting the consumer’s journey. Marketers are laser-focused on giving the customer an increasingly optimized personal experience. We feed the beast that yells, “Me! Me! Me!”
Recall the famous character Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. She chews gum all the time; obsessive and always demanding more. In Wonka’s Inventing Room, she snatches a not-ready-for-prime-time gum sample, soon punished for her overindulgence by turning purple and swelling to a massive spherical shape.
Violet is the epitome of self-absorption; she has no concerns other than getting what she wants, when she wants it. And she wants it now.
It is precisely the predicament humans find ourselves in these days.
We carry the world in our pockets. It’s digital gold, and indeed, more precious than gold. Is it any wonder that we are loathe to be more than a few feet from our devices at any moment? Yet an all-access pass to the universe of information breeds a new level of selfishness. We want what we want when we want it. We want it now. And we are going to get it.
Be The Bigger (Flesh Tone) Person
Our devices are not going away. The world of information is far too valuable to expect anyone to step away from a connection. With the advent of wearable computing, our devices will be woven into the very fabric of our lives.
Content marketing is not the problem; it’s actually the solution.
Content marketing is really about making life less difficult for people, removing impediments rather than adding them. Here’s the way out of this conundrum: Treat every content endeavor like you are communicating with your best friend. While you hope to market to an audience of thousands, the truth is that you are only ever speaking with one person at a time.
Would you expect your best friend to put up with click bait tactics? You’re not out to trick the ones you love most. Now take that love and extend it to your audience at large. Be relentlessly authentic. Be genuine for days. Now you’re doing the world a favor.