I know, I know. You’re thinking that I’m crazy.
But, I’m not.
I’ve been in marketing or advertising (online or otherwise) for 20 years. I’ve been thinking lately about why I got involved in social media. What was the attraction? I’ve realized it’s THE TRUTH. That’s something sorely missing from a lot of traditional advertising, where veracity is neither required nor particularly encouraged.
But as I pondered this connection, I realized that there was a portion of the advertising world that shared a lot of elements with social media – infomercials.
You can’t lie in infomercials. If you’re pitching shamWow, it damn well better pick up water. The same is true in social media. You can stretch the truth a bit if you must, but ultimately there’s nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide.
The Voice of the People
Sure, infomercials include a lot of patter from the host (and his trusty sidekick, the otherwise-out-of-work-former-TV-hostess). But infomercials do a brilliant job of telling stories not just through the eyes and mouth of the pitchman, but also through the eyes and mouths of the customers. Testimonials are a huge part of the infomercial world, as they are for effective social media.
Sure, you can tell your company story ad infinitum in social media, but ultimately you’ll benefit so much more if you can make your customers part of your marketing team. Get them to tell your story, and you really have something viable.
The Power of the Unexpected
The genius of infomercials (and to a lesser degree, home shopping channels), is that they present to you products that you didn’t know you needed, because you didn’t know they existed. How many SpaceBags or food dehydrators were sold before they were infomercials? Not many. Infomercials create brand-new categories by tapping into unexpected desires.
Your social media strategy should do this too. Of course, you can talk about the run-of-the-mill features and benefits of your product, but that doesn’t create any real kinship. That’s just a brochure in 140 characters. Instead, let your customers in on the secret. Show them aspects of your company that they didn’t already know. That’s what builds loyalty and advocacy.
At the end of the video, you’ll see my question as to whether the king of the infomercial and the king of social media are really the same guy? I’m just working through this tie between infomercials and social media. Please help me think about it more. What do you say?