How to Spot Social Media Fads vs. Trends

How to Spot Social Media Fads vs. Trends

Rohit Bhargava, Founder & Chief Trend Curator of Non-Obvious Company, joins Social Pros to talk about identifying social media trends with the power to change your business

In This Episode:

Rohit Bhargava

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Full Episode Details

How to Spot Social Media Fads vs. TrendsTrends Vs. Fads

Can you predict what’s going to be a trend or a fad? Social media trends tend to have a much longer lifespan than fads. The last thing you want to do as a social media practitioner is to invest too much time in to something that turns out to be a ‘flash in the pan.’

So, what’s the difference between a fad you should ignore and a trend worth pursuing? Rohit Bhargava, Founder & Chief Trend Curator of Non-Obvious Company, has written many books on the subject, including his most recent title, ‘Non-Obvious Megatrends.’ Exploring its pages uncovers mega trend predictions that are likely to shape our world in the coming decade.

Together, we dive into these megatrends, revealing what others miss and unlocking the key to growing your business into the next decade. If you want to keep up with the ever-changing world of social, you absolutely need to know about these all-important megatrends that have the power to change your business and propel your career beyond expectations.

In This Episode:

  • 02:49 – Why it’s so important to think for yourself and why you should pay attention to existing megatrends
  • 09:34 – An insight into the five mindsets of non-obvious thinkers
  • 11:24 – How to identify social media fads vs trends
  • 14:35 – Understanding the amplified identity mega trend and how it impacts us as social practitioners
  • 21:22 – How to survive in an information economy and the rise of ‘attention wealth’
  • 23:27 – How to strategically supply instant knowledge to your customers
  • 29:01 – The rise and fall of trends from previous years including the downfall of crowdsourcing
  • 31:34 – Why more B2B brands and marketing leaders need to take a more human-centric marketing approach

Quotes From This Episode:

We need more ammunition to encourage people to think for themselves because there’s a lot of forces in our world right now that don’t want you to think for yourself.” – @rohitbhargava

A trend is a curated observation of the accelerating present. Click To Tweet

One of the most underappreciated ideas in social media is that we can do things in a short period of time and then archive it.” – @rohitbhargava

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Episode Transcript

  • Rohit

    I mean there’s trends and there’s fads and one of the biggest differences that I typically find is when people say, “Oh Tik Tok is a trend,” right? Usually it’s a fad because what you’re saying or what you’re describing is a platform or a product as opposed to a movement or a mindset. And so a trend to me is something that is put in behavioral terms. How are we as people thinking differently?

  • Jay

    I really think it’s one of the most important things you have to consider in social media, this idea of what is a trend and what is a fad? Because you can drive yourself crazy chasing fads in social media. There’s a new fad every day, every minute it seems. And in today’s episode of Social Pros, Rohit Bhargava who is the founder of the non-obvious company Idea Press Publishing, and the author of the new book Non-Obvious Mega Trends joins me on the program to talk about mega trends, things that you absolutely need to know going forward, not only personally but professionally and how the world is changing around us every day. We talk a lot about trends versus fads and how to succeed in an ever changing environment on this episode of Social Pros.

  • Jay

    I’m Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, host of the show. Thanks very much for joining us. Adam Brown is off this week. Since it is 2020, we’re just kind of entering into a new decade, I just wanted to point out that if you have a social media strategy, a content marketing strategy or a digital marketing strategy that is more than a year or so old, you almost don’t have a strategy in most cases because things have changed so quickly that what we need to do to succeed in these environments has shifted right under our feet. If you need some help, maybe my team and I at Convince & Convert can be the assistance that you need. We create content marketing strategies, digital marketing strategies, and of course social media strategies for many of the most iconic and interesting brands in the world as well as nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, B2B technology companies, and a lot more. If we can help you, please let us know. Go to convinceandconvert.com to find out more. And now, Social Pros with Rohit Bhargava, author of Non-Obvious Mega Trends.

  • Jay

    Rohit, welcome back to Social Pros. I should have looked before the episode what number of appearance this is, but you’ve got to… it’s sort of like Saturday Night Live, right? We have certain hosts that come back again and again. You’ve got to be up there with Ann Handley and a couple of others toward the top of our list of all time guests here on the program. So you’re probably going to get like an embroidered smoking jacket or something sent to your home. So look-

  • Rohit

    Hey that’s awesome. I could use another one of those I got to say.

  • Jay

    It’s kind of a separate closet. It’s actually, truth stranger than fiction, because you are of course a very frequent guest on a number of podcasts, not just this esteemed show, because you continue to write books about trends every single year and this year’s book, friends, is the best of them all I think in many ways. It is Non-Obvious Mega Trends. Mega trends, not just regular trends, mega trends. How to see what others miss and predict the future. Ro, really an exciting take on it this year. I’ll summarize it and correct me where I’m wrong. You sort of took the last decade or so of trends that you’ve been putting out into the marketplace and sort of rolled them together into mega trends.

  • Rohit

    Yeah, that’s a sort of… it’s exactly right. It’s kind of like a combination of greatest hits but also not just reprinting what was there before. So it takes some of the past trends and every one of the mega trends, uses past trends as ammunition to say, look, this is more than just a year long prediction. This is something that’s actually been happening for a longer period of time and will happen.

  • Jay

    Yeah, it’s a really neat premise, Social Pros listeners. It’s approximately what, 150 trends or so that are rolled up-

  • Rohit

    Yeah, close to.

  • Jay

    Yeah, rolled up into 10 big moves. Ten big trends that are changing all of our lives and our businesses, and as Rohit mentioned, it’s not just things that, hey, here’s something that you need to get on for 2020. Yes, for 2020, but also 2021 to 2022 and 2027 and 2042 and it is a book that I think everybody in business, whether you’re in small business, medium sized business, large business, B2B, B2C, nonprofit, it doesn’t matter. Everybody should read this book. You need to know what’s happening around you. What I find fascinating about your work, Ro, is that this is one of those books, especially this year, but all your books, but especially this one with the mega trends, I just found myself while reading it nodding my head all the time. I had like a sore neck after I read the book. I’m like, “Yeah, he totally nailed that. So true.”

  • Jay

    And when you see it all kind of laid out in front of you and all the trends kind of cobbled together as one mega trend, like, oh, that’s what this is about. We all know these things to be true. When you read them, like yes, I do recognize that, but putting it on the page and and essentially correlating them for you. Wow. What a service to the community.

  • Rohit

    Yeah. And you know what’s been interesting about this whole process and this whole 10-year journey for me has been that people love the trends. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear about trends, especially at the beginning of any year, right? But what’s been really interesting is that the thinking process that I’ve had to start to sort of quantify to say, “Look, this is how to put those pieces together.” Like that’s what I’m most excited about in this book and really any of those books, which is it’s not just here’s the smart guy telling you what the trends are and you should just listen to that guy and hopefully pay him at some point in the future. It’s here’s the thinking process that you can use yourself to start to see these patterns for yourself.

  • Jay

    Question-

  • Rohit

    And that’s really what I’m excited about because we need more ammunition for that model of thinking to encourage people to think for themselves because there’s a lot of forces in our world right now that don’t want you to think for yourself.

  • Jay

    Well, isn’t that the truth? And it’s absolutely accurate that the first part of this book, the first part of all of Rohit’s annual trends books, is about how do you identify and put into practice trends on your own. It really is a methodology, a framework, a scaffolding, a system for trend identification and sort of implementation on your own. Because you’re dead on. Like, yes, it’s cool that you have a crystal ball, but everybody could have a crystal ball if they just kind of looked at the world in a certain way.

  • Rohit

    Yeah. And you know, I remember… I don’t know if you’re a fan of the TV show, The Office, but I remember there was one episode where Michael Scott, the boss, he wants to go out into the woods and be like a survivor. And so he goes out into the woods to try and survive, but he takes nothing with him, right? So he predictably suffers and he cuts the legs off his pants and then when it gets cold he has to duct tape the legs back onto his pants. And it’s like the dumbest thing ever, right? But what I started thinking about as I was writing the book is there is this truth that says like, look, I could take anybody and go into the woods and say, “Okay, you’re going to have to survive.” But if you had a backpack that had like a lighter in there, some duct tape, some form of shelter, a sweatshirt, it’s going to be a lot easier to survive, because at least you’ve got something in your backpack.

  • Rohit

    And to me that’s what I try and think about when it comes to ideas. Like how do you load up your mind with enough ideas so that when you have to come up with that new innovative thing, you’re not just sitting in that room brainstorming based on nothing. How do you arm yourself with enough ideas and how do you collect those ideas the way that most of us collect frequent flyer miles? Because we bank those frequent flyer miles. I know you travel all the time, I travel all the time and what you or I don’t do is we don’t travel to LA and then like the next day say, “Okay, how do I use my 2000 miles?”

  • Jay

    I’ve got to get to Riverside, it’s not really that [crosstalk 00:07:52].

  • Rohit

    Not even. You can’t even book anything, right? I mean maybe you could buy an Amazon gift card, right? Like that’s about it. But if you save them up and then you cash them in, you can go on a trip really somewhere awesome and take your whole family too. And that’s kind of what I do with ideas, right? I save them up for the whole year, and in this case 10 years, to now finally cash them in to say, “Look, these are the big things that are happening.”

  • Jay

    And is this true? I heard a rumor that this is the last of these trend books that you’re going to do. Is it that you are retiring?

  • Rohit

    Rumors are usually true.

  • Jay

    Is it that you’re retiring on top? You’re going to like Tom Brady this series?

  • Rohit

    Tom Brady maybe not as good of an example.

  • Jay

    We’ll see. We’ll see. Time will tell.

  • Rohit

    Yeah, we’ll see, exactly. But yeah, I mean Seinfeld may be a better example.

  • Jay

    There you go. Right.

  • Rohit

    To me, and I think you’ll appreciate this as a fellow marketer as well, I just felt like there was a lot more I could do with this Non-Obvious brand than just this one book. And so as you know, we’ve launched an entire guidebook series. We have a book awards program that’s really taking off. I’m going to be doing a different kind of podcast next year, which we might have talked about on the last time, I can’t remember if we did or not. But it’s going to be not an interview show, so it’ll be totally different. And so there’s a lot of other things that I want to do to really make this brand platform of Non-Obvious and encouraging people to, A, think for themselves, and B, one of the main taglines is be more interesting. Like be a more interesting person. And that takes this mentality of being a lifelong learner, right? Of being curious, of wanting to learn new things. I’m sure that anybody who’s listening to your podcast, they already have that mindset. They just want more information, they want more stuff.

  • Jay

    In the book, you lay out the five mindsets of non-obvious thinkers and really important material for Social Pros listeners to consider. Be observant, be fickle, be elegant, be thoughtful, and be curious. Which of those do you think are most applicable to our audience, which are primarily social media managers and those doing social media for a living in some way?

  • Rohit

    You know, it’s a bad answer to say all of them. So let me hone in on one that might be surprising to people. Be fickle. I mean a lot of people will tell you to be curious and I think we generally kind of know what that means, ask questions. But it also means… Being fickle to me means save an idea and move on. Don’t dwell on that thing because sometimes the meaning appears later on in life, right? Like you only figure out why those pieces are connected eventually at a later stage. So some of these things that we hear all the time, even be curious like, well what does that mean? Does that mean that I should just be reading more? And one of the ways that I found to be curious a little bit more in my daily life is, I have kids, you have kids, kids ask a lot of questions. Sometimes we’re busy with whatever we’re busy with and we don’t really answer those questions or at least try to. Or if you’re a dad, we’re commonly known for just making up answers, right?

  • Jay

    I just say ask Siri. It’s easier that way.

  • Rohit

    Yeah, it’s easier that way sometimes. But if you do engage that curiosity and say, “Look, why are these things set up in that way?” You’ll really start to see the world a little bit differently because you’re like, “You know what? That is true. Why is that? Why do we do that?”

  • Jay

    I don’t know that there’s any industry that is more affected by trends than professional social media. It’s got to be up there towards the top. One of the things I always find interesting is how you define the difference between a trend and a fad. And I think that premise is really important for our community to understand and keep in mind because you can get whipsawed real easy in this business by whatever is today’s “conventional wisdom.” Can you unpack that a little bit for our crew here at Social Pros?

  • Rohit

    Yeah, so I mean I think the place to start is with my very quick definition of what a trend actually is. So what I think a trend is is a curated observation of the accelerating present. And that’s how I describe a trend. And the accelerating present is the important part, because it’s something that’s happening right now and then it’ll continue to accelerate. But like you said, I mean there’s trends and there’s fads. And one of the biggest differences that I typically find is when people say, “Oh, Tik Tok is a trend.” Usually it’s a fad because what you’re saying, what you’re describing is a platform or a product as opposed to a movement or a mindset. And so a trend to me is something that is put in behavioral terms. How are we as people thinking differently? It’s not 3D printing, it’s not Tik Tok, it’s not a thing. It’s a behavior that is encouraged by that thing.

  • Jay

    So using conversational apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc in lieu of email or SMS might be a trend. It’s not a fad because it’s a behavior change.

  • Rohit

    Correct, and the behavior change might be that we are seeking more direct human ways of connecting with one another. Right? And I do write about kind of human connection and I call it the human mode, which is like the value of human connection in a world where more things are getting automated. And the fascinating thing about when you do a trend like that is it also crosses industry. So a lot of times I get the question, you get the same question I’m sure when you go into a speaking gig where they’ll say, “Look, all your stuff’s great, but can you just make sure that it applies to the pharmaceutical industry?” The question I’ll get is what are the five financial services trends out of your mega trends?

  • Jay

    You’re like all of them.

  • Rohit

    Yeah. Well, you know-

  • Jay

    They apply somewhat differently but all of them. That’s why it’s a mega trend.

  • Rohit

    Look, that’s kind of the answer but at the end of the day, I think the other thing that makes a trend is you can find examples of it in multiple industries. And so I personally have never gone that route of saying, “Here are the five healthcare trends, here are the five financial services trends, here are the…”. Now, the nice thing though about writing these trends in the way that I’ve done it and the mega trends in the way that I’ve done it, is I can always say there’s 10 mega trends. That’s too many for a 45-minute talk as you know. So I’ll usually pick five or seven that are most applicable-

  • Jay

    To that industry or that audience.

  • Rohit

    And I’ll say, “Here are the ones that work for this industry and here’s why, and here’s the examples.” Because every one of these trends has multiple examples from multiple industries.

  • Jay

    Great segue. It feels like you’ve done this show before. I read all 10 of the mega trends in the new book from Rohit, Non-Obvious Mega Trends, how to see what others miss and predict the future. I picked out three that I think are particularly appropriate for social media professionals. We’ll see if you agree and I’d love for you to give a little color on these. The first is amplified identity, which really to me speaks to the influencer marketing world and all the things that are in the personal branding sort of ecosystem. Can you talk a little bit about that one?

  • Rohit

    Yeah, I think it will be immediately meaningful for anybody who’s working in social media, right? I mean it is this idea that as individuals, our identities have become amplified through all of the different places that we can portray them. But also that the way we portray ourselves and the elements of ourselves that we do share are not our entire selves, but are a way that we want to be portrayed, right?

  • Rohit

    So if you think about like how do I want to be portrayed on this platform versus that platform? What is my digital persona? Am I being a creator and do I have a creator’s name for some of those things? And then on the flip side, like as we create all this content throughout our lives, or if we’ve been on social media for 10 or I think I joined Twitter back in like 2006 or something like that. So that’s been almost 15 years on a platform like that, right? So there’s a lot of content.

  • Rohit

    So what happens eventually when I pass away and I leave this legacy of all this stuff, like who owns that stuff? Who manages it? What does it mean? Did it ever actually become meaningful for anybody? So all of these questions about our identity, all the way through from like who do we see ourselves now to what part of ourselves remains and what part of ourselves lasts and what’s real? I mean with deep fakes and holographic personas and personalities and like Lil Miquela or Shudu or all of these digitally created avatars, who aren’t even real people, but have connections to individuals as if they were real people. I mean all these interesting things happening. It’s a fascinating trend, it really is.

  • Jay

    And it has materialized really in a fairly short period of time, right? I mean, you and I are old. We kind of came up together in this business, in ’07, ’08, ’09, oh ten. Not oh ten, ’10. A decade ago, a little bit more, and you think about Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s seminal work Trust Agents, you think about when Scott Monty was the face of Ford and all these things that now seem almost laughable. They were so prosaic from a personal branding perspective. Your great book in those days, Personality Not Included, all of those things were kind of bellwethers for where we are today where people can make millions of dollars shooting seven second videos about nonsense. Like it’s unbelievable to sort of wind the clock back and be like, “Wow, that has been a crazy decade.”

  • Rohit

    Yeah. You know and objectively or subjectively nonsense, right?

  • Jay

    Yeah, of course.

  • Rohit

    What’s interesting about a lot of content and especially for anybody who’s like a creator or a writer or a filmmaker, the way we think of content is very different than someone whose content is basically authenticity, right? I mean, essentially what they’re doing is they’re saying, “I’m shooting more of myself every day.”

  • Jay

    I’m just live streaming. The Circle is a great example. That book is a great kind of [inaudible 00:18:12]. We’re just going to turn on the cameras and that’s my show.

  • Rohit

    And that’s it, like this is me.

  • Jay

    Do you remember Real World or those kind of things were sort of the, on television, the early days of reality television. Sort of I think Ford saw the future of where we are now.

  • Rohit

    Yeah, I think we do… anybody’s who’s sort of a creator like me or like you, I mean I think that sometimes we may be under-appreciate what is required for someone to be that transparently, authentically visible in their daily lives to their audience to say, “Look, this is just me doing what I’m doing and not because I’m creating something. I’m just being. And that’s it, that’s all I have to offer.” People respond to that.

  • Jay

    That look behind the curtain is so incredibly powerful and motivational and compelling. It’s not the way I want to live my life. I think you and I both kind of take a little bit more… I’m certainly not name checking here but sort of Seth Godin-ish approach, which is, hey, we’re going to let the content speak for itself and we’ll show you glimpses of our real life, but we’re not going to live our life one Instagram story at a time in real time. But I have mad respect for people who do that because the psychology of that level of transparency I think is much harder, to your point, than we give people credit for, but it is incredibly, incredibly powerful.

  • Jay

    Our episode last week here on the Social Pros program, I guess it was two weeks ago, with David Meerman Scott and his new book Fanocracy talks about that a lot. This idea that if you just give people a little taste of the real you, their tie to you psychologically is magnified accordingly. And I think a lot of brands can learn that lesson. I feel like, and maybe you agree, brands were doing that pretty well, that sort of hey, behind the scenes kind of thing for a while. But I feel like we’ve kind of papered over that in a lot of ways and kind of gotten back to social media is another way to put an ad out there. It makes me a little sad. I feel like we kind of had a window of brand authenticity in social and we kind of move past it a little bit.

  • Rohit

    We did. But I think it was inevitable that we would move past it because I think that the world of marketing is so campaign driven that-

  • Jay

    As the money gets bigger, right? When you go to paid, and I think what hurt is the move from largely organic to largely paid. When you go largely paid, especially for bigger companies, by definition has to be a campaign and the same kind of century-long campaign thinking gets put into place.

  • Rohit

    Yeah, but even if it’s not paid, even if it’s more of an influencer, unpaid organic strategy, it’s still a campaign in the sense that you hired an agency for six months to do it. Right?

  • Jay

    Yeah. There’s a time horizon, there’s KPIs, there’s all that stuff.

  • Rohit

    The people working on it were paid for a short period of time and then they’re gone. And that’s part of the problem too, that sort of circular mindset that says, “Look, we’re only going to keep this agency for X amount of time. We’re not going to bring anything in house.” And so as soon as that person gets a new opportunity and goes somewhere else, that whole thing dies with that person.

  • Jay

    Yeah or the CMO changes and the whole thing starts over.

  • Rohit

    Exactly.

  • Jay

    You know?

  • Rohit

    Yeah.

  • Jay

    The other mega trend that I loved a lot was attention wealth, which of course I think is related to amplified identity in some ways that, you know, Gary V always says that attention is currency. What’s the Rohit hit take on that?

  • Rohit

    Yeah. You know, I think we’ve been hearing this idea of like, look, we’re in an information economy. Everybody knows that attention is currency, everybody knows that. But I think the next step in that is if we are in this information economy and if attention is currency, then why aren’t we wealthy? Like, why don’t we think of ourselves as wealthy, right? Like why don’t we take that attention and say, “I should be generating money from my attention, not from getting attention from others.” Right? Which is what we have now. Like I’m going to be a YouTube star and I’m going to get millions of people to watch my video and therefore I’ll basically sell advertising and I’ll make money. That’s already out there. But why don’t I consider myself wealthy because I have 24 hours of attention to give that other people want to buy?

  • Rohit

    And that’s what I really started digging into with attention wealth, to say that as soon as we can start recapturing all of our data, we can export everything that we’ve ever posted to Facebook. We have all of our Fitbit data, we have new legislation in California with privacy laws that says you have access to take back all of this data and you own it. The very next step in that is going to be that if companies can’t just get it themselves, they’re going to say, “Well we better start compensating people to give it to us.” And you could easily imagine a day of retail, for example, moving forward where as soon as you walk into that retail establishment or as soon as you go to that retail website instead of saying, “Would you like to accept the cookies?” And you know that little message that comes up, you’re going to get a new message saying, “Would you like to share personal data with you in exchange for $20 off?”

  • Jay

    Yeah.

  • Rohit

    And now my attention and my data is actually worth something in the sense that I can get a discount for it. I can get treated differently. I can get the gold star line so I don’t have to wait in line. Like whatever those things are.

  • Jay

    That’s Old Navy giving you a $5 coupon to get your email address but writ large, right, on a massive scale.

  • Rohit

    Yeah and instantaneous too. Because right now it’s just they just blast it out there and hopefully you take it and you remember to bring the Groupon with you.

  • Jay

    Yeah. It’s amazing. And the third one I wanted to talk about on this episode of Social Pros with Rohit, who is the author of Non-Obvious Mega Trends, guys get this book, trust me, you’re going to love it, is instant knowledge. And this is maybe a little bit more of a content marketing play, but this idea that we all expect all the answers all the time instantly. Smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are part of that trend as well, Siri, etc. But this idea that you’re going to go spend a bunch of times spelunking for knowledge is really no longer true or necessary. What should our listeners be thinking about in terms of instant knowledge and how they can actually meet or exceed the ever escalating expectations of their customers in this regard?

  • Rohit

    One of the interesting stories that I found and wrote about right when I was starting to write about this trend was a story of an eight-year-old boy who decided later in the evening that he was hungry and he took the car with his younger sister and drove to a local McDonald’s drive through because he wanted a burger. And when he got there, the staff there thought they were being pranked and so they looked around and when they realized they weren’t, they called the cops and the cops came and interviewed the boy and called the parents and the boy was crying and everything was, you know, going crazy. And when they interviewed the kid, the kid said, “I was hungry and I taught myself how to drive on YouTube.”

  • Rohit

    So like, here’s a kid, eight years old who taught himself how to drive on YouTube and 10 years from now that kid’s going to have that conversation with his parents about college and what’s that kid going to say? Do I go to school for four years?

  • Jay

    Like, I could learn it all on YouTube.

  • Rohit

    When I grew up teaching myself how to drive at eight years old? That’s the world that we’re living in.

  • Jay

    My son’s a college freshman right now and this summer before he went to school, he was already matriculated and he said, “Look, I’m going to go, but everything I need to know I could learn on YouTube.”

  • Rohit

    Yeah. And that’s the mentality, right?

  • Jay

    And I’m like, you’re probably not wrong, but there’s other reasons to go other than that.

  • Rohit

    Yeah. The upside of that is very empowering of course. The downside is, and that’s why I very intentionally called this trend instant knowledge, not instant wisdom. Because what we get is instant knowledge, but mastery, wisdom, like those things that come with time and study and really kind of dedicated effort, those things may start becoming much more rare.

  • Rohit

    And so I think that one of the implications of that for any of us who are doing all of the things that we do is there’s a lot of people who will do this much of what we do, right? There’s not a lot of people who will understand the entire gambit of everything, and there’s not a lot of people who will actually be able to put all those pieces together. And so there’s been a bunch of study around this idea of we’re going to need more mastery. We’re going to need people who choose to take that next level to choose to go to that next step because they’re going to be much more valuable because everyone else thinks, “Oh, I can just do the surface thing, get the certificate, never go to school and I’ll be fine.”

  • Jay

    I mean I talk to my daughter about this all the time. She’s also in a university and is a junior advertising major. And I told her at the very beginning, I said, “Look, there’s only three careers that you could possibly have coming of college in advertising, marketing services. You can either be incredibly good at math and data and tell the robots what to do, because it will all be robots. Or you can be incredibly good at creative because while you can use AI to do a lot of things creatively, you still have to have a human touch on that. Or you can be really good at strategy and relationships.” That’s it. Those are the three jobs, right? And she knew from the jump that data was not going to be the one that she wanted to do, so it’s going to be strategy and relationships.

  • Jay

    And I’ve said this before on this show and elsewhere, in the very near future where much of what we do in social media and digital marketing is either AI assisted or AI dominant, the strategist is king. If it becomes a fight of robots and you own the same robot that I own, Salesforce Marketing cloud, one of our sponsors for example. If we all have the same artificially intelligent machine learning robots to do the tactics of marketing, then whomever can think the best and tell their robots to do the [inaudible 00:27:45] thing is going to succeed period. And that’s why books like this one are so important for our Social Pros community because ultimately being good at tactics is not a job.

  • Rohit

    Yeah. And I think that that idea of really being strategic and thinking about what you’re going to be able to convince people of and why they’re going to pay attention. I mean it really does come down to that understanding of who those people are and it’s not just enough to focus on the numbers. And look, I spent a lot of time with a lot of data and a lot of research, and there’s a lot of research in this book. I mean the end notes are super long because there’s always tons of stories to back up every one of these things. And what I find when I put all those pieces together is that we are knowledge rich and insight poor with most of it. And really what that means to me is there’s not enough people taking all of this stuff and actually thinking about what it means. There’s a lot of people thinking about how to make a slide out of it. There’s a lot of people thinking about how to make a bar chart out of it.

  • Jay

    Well said.

  • Rohit

    But that’s not the same thing.

  • Jay

    Yeah. The big difference between making a slide and making a strategy. That is well said for sure. One of the things that’s fantastic about this version of your work, the Non-Obvious Mega Trends, is you go back and revisit all the old trends and in this point, because you’ve got the full swath of your work, and you’ve got letter grades of how previous trends have performed over time. Did the thing that you thought was going to happen actually happen? And a lot of them are spot on, there’s lots of A’s and A- and B+ where the trend really did happen the way you predicted that it would and it is still in full force, but then there’s some that didn’t quite get the traction that we once thought.

  • Jay

    And I want to talk about a couple of those that I found really germane to our audience here on Social Pros and one was crowdsourcing, right? You and I as we mentioned earlier, contemporaries, and there was a time when when crowdsourcing everything was the soup du jour. Like let’s crowdsource who’s going to play quarterback for the Vikings and let’s crowdsource the color of the logo and everything was sort of crowdsourced.

  • Rohit

    Superbowl ads.

  • Jay

    Yeah, everything. And then as you mentioned in the book, it kind of faded away a little bit. Why do you think that happened?

  • Rohit

    I think there were a couple of reasons. I think the biggest reason was that there was this belief for some amount of time, based on nothing, that a crowdsource solution could equal or better a professionally produced solution.

  • Jay

    The wisdom of crowds idea, the wisdom of crowds premise.

  • Rohit

    Yeah, yeah. That was perfectly on display with the Superbowl ad thing, right? Where all these companies, like Doritos was saying, “Look, we don’t need to hire an ad agency. We’ll pay a couple million dollars for the Superbowl spot and we’ll just take a crowd produced ad and we’ll slap it up there, the best one. Because the best one must be as good as anything that a great ad agency would do.” And they were decent, but they weren’t. Because they weren’t professionals. And this is not a kind of rah-rah go agency thing that I’m trying to say here. What I’m trying to say is crowdsourcing, A, you wouldn’t always get an amazing result, and B, it’s actually a lot of work to get people to submit stuff in the first place.

  • Jay

    It is, it is. Yeah. The administration of it is actually a kind of a sticky wicket sometimes. But that is one that I thought was really fascinating because there was a time where that was really the default solution for a lot of marketing communications challenges, and now it’s really not so much.

  • Rohit

    Yeah, because it seemed like a cheap way to get the same thing.

  • Jay

    Yeah. Right.

  • Rohit

    And it wasn’t.

  • Jay

    The other one that I loved was, and this frustrates me so much I wrote about it in my recent book, Talk Triggers, is B2Beyond marketing. The idea that that B2B organizations could adopt some of the same authenticity, humanity, storytelling, other best practices that consumer facing brands are doing maybe now more than ever in some circumstances, but they just largely have. Now obviously there’s examples to the contrary. There’s plenty of good B2B companies out there that are doing cool things, but mostly they stick pretty close to their knitting. Mostly they have an allergy to interesting. Mostly they are just painting by numbers, and as much as I’m a fan of account based marketing, that’s not the same thing, right? That is a tactical pivot that’s not a human centric marketing approach.

  • Rohit

    Well and I think that what I’ve seen often in, and I’ve spent most of my career working with B2B brands, I mean when I was at Ogilvy, that was basically a B2B agency. I mean that was their bread and butter. And what I saw over and over again was people in B2B marketing roles dismissing any idea that felt B2C before even thinking about what element.

  • Jay

    They still do it. You and I speak at B2B conferences and you’ll use one B2B example, or B2C example, in your keynote and they’re like, “Oh I don’t know, that’s not relevant to me because it’s not B2B.” Like what are you talking about? Why?

  • Rohit

    It is that mindset. And I actually joked about this when I did my talk at South By Southwest last year. And it was one of the most tweeted things that I said, because I basically said, look, the way we start talking about innovation with most of these big companies, and in particular B2B companies, is we give them a really innovative idea and they say, “We love that idea. We want to do it, but can you just show us a case study of it first?”

  • Jay

    Yeah. Show me somebody else in our industry who’s already done it.

  • Rohit

    Yeah. And the point is like if it’s a really innovative idea, there’s no case study.

  • Jay

    There’s no case study, that’s why it’s innovative.

  • Rohit

    Yeah. Because nobody’s done it before. And I think that we just get so focused on the fear of something flying in our face and being called out for that and having someone wonder like, why did you even greenlight that? And we do. Look in social media, we do see high profile failures, right? Where people really do have things blow up in their face. But most of the time, and anybody who works in social media knows this, most of the time when you fail, it’s usually because nobody paid attention, not because too many people paid attention. Failure generally in social media is a video with 20 views, not something that gets millions of views because you said the wrong thing and now it’s controversial. So if the most common failure is no one pays attention, how much risk is there really? I mean there’s risk of losing money, there’s risk of losing time, but there’s not reputational risks because nobody saw it.

  • Jay

    Why do you think that is the case though? Like a lot of B2B marketing leaders had spent time on the B2C side. You and I and many other people out there, we’ll continue to tell them that look, B2C ideas are not invalid if they’re applied to a business to business transaction, yet almost holistically as a gigantic part of the overall global economy, they still resist doing things that we would define as interesting or breakthrough or noteworthy. It’s just very low tolerance for messaging risk or communications risk. Is it the higher average order value in B2B? So they feel like, look, we don’t have that many at bats. We can’t waste any. I just… I try to dig deeper and figure out what the actual fear is.

  • Rohit

    You know, I don’t even think it’s… I don’t know that it is fear as much as it is a learned skepticism. Because look, if you’re a B2B leader, you are getting a fair number of ideas from a fair number of people who really don’t get B2B, who really don’t put things in context and when they show up, they lose a lot of credibility and they don’t just lose credibility for themselves, they lose credibility for anyone who doesn’t walk in saying, “I am specifically all about B2B.”

  • Rohit

    And so anybody who works in B2B, they become weary of that and they become skeptical. Sometimes it’s fear based. Yeah, we don’t want to try that because we’re afraid. Sometimes it’s just, look, you don’t get us, you don’t understand us. That’s what they’re essentially saying. When they say to you, “Look, that idea is B2C,” what they’re saying is you don’t get our industry, we’re nuanced and you’re not demonstrating understanding for us. Right.

  • Rohit

    So let me… I know you do this When you go in for a talk, I do this all the time when I go in for a talk, I learn the language that they speak. So if I go in and do a talk for credit unions, I’m not going to call their customers customers, I’m going to call them members because that’s what they call them. And I know that because I’ve done it and you I’m sure have done talks for that audience where you know that too. But anybody who walks in and delivers that keynote and says customers, immediately they’ve lost credibility.

  • Jay

    It’s over.

  • Rohit

    Not because they’re walking in with B2C, but because they didn’t take the time to understand their industry.

  • Jay

    Yeah. I think one of the other differences that gets under discussed is in most cases the length of the sales cycle, and the number of people involved in a purchasing decision in B2B is pretty significant. There really is… in B2C you can have kind of that breakthrough home run idea that that drives a lot of awareness and a lot of purchase, and you can elevate a brand relatively quickly if you kind of catch lightning in a bottle. It’s harder to do that I think in B2B, even with breakthrough work, because even if it’s amazing and like I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I totally change the way I think about XYZ software company, there’s still seven other people that got to sign off. Right? And it’s still… the path to purchase is so much more complicated in most B2B situations that even great work doesn’t have the same kind of instant effect.

  • Rohit

    Yeah, totally. I mean, they’re not impulse buys, right? And you’re totally right about that. But at the same time, if I’m sitting there and look, I’ve done plenty of B2C and I’ve done plenty of B2B and if I’m selling a Snickers bar, I don’t know the internal motivation of what that person’s interested in. Whereas if I’m in the paint industry, I have a pretty decent idea of some of the things that that person’s going to be interested in. So content marketing for example, could work way better and does work way better in B2B a lot of times because at least you know what somebody is interested in.

  • Jay

    Yeah, absolutely. Well, I find that Snickers is a great example. They are a candy bar, I think we can all agree on that. Yet for many years their advertising focused around Snickers as a hunger substitute. So instead of getting a KIND bar or granola bar or something else, a Clif bar or yogurt, Snickers really satisfies. Right? And they would talk about the dangers of being hangry and making weird relationship faux pas when you have hunger pains. That’s a really interesting insight for why somebody would buy a Snickers bar. That’s not a choice that I would typically make when I’m hungry, but I think it’s really fascinating to say, “Oh well that’s a different way of looking at the problem.”

  • Rohit

    Yeah. And I’m not a purist in that sense. I mean I actually love candies. I love candy bars because in most cases, like they’re not pretending to be anything other than a candy bar. It’s not like some of these granola bars that have more sugar than a Snickers bar and say look, this could be your breakfast. I mean that’s just plain evil. Because they’re not promoting themselves as a candy bar. Like I’m fine with Snickers saying, “Hey go and get a Snickers, because look, I know and my kids know, that you shouldn’t eat a Snickers bar for dinner.” Everyone knows that. So I’m okay with them promoting that. Like, that’s not a big deal to me.

  • Jay

    It’s sort of like vaping as a smoking alternative. Right?

  • Rohit

    Ugh, yeah.

  • Jay

    It’s a whole nother conversation for another day. Then there you go. So vaping is a fad, not a trend, right? I mean that’s how we would look at this?

  • Rohit

    Yeah. That was just a product right. And I don’t even think that that fit into anything that would resemble a trend which is why I think that when it died so quickly, and I think it’s fair to say it’s died or dying, it was a quick thing. There weren’t a lot of people who were saying like don’t take my vaping away. There weren’t protests in the street, there wasn’t any of that. People were like, “Oh shit, it’s not healthy. It’s like really bad for me. Okay, well I probably knew I shouldn’t be doing it anyway.”

  • Jay

    Yeah. Well there are some things you should do, Social Pros listeners. One of those is to get Rohit’s new book, Mega Trends, 20… Non-Obvious Mega Trends, how to see what others miss and predict the future. Available in all bookstores and all ways. Audio book, I presume as well, Rohit?

  • Rohit

    There will be, yeah. We are working on that.

  • Jay

    Fantastic. And we should also just understand that just because your boss walks in your conference room and says, “Hey we got to do this tomorrow,” you may have to do that based on your organizational structure, but short term thinking in social is perhaps the most dangerous game you can play. Because if you are always reacting, you will literally never be caught up. You can never… It is not humanly possible to be on top of everything if you’re doing everything based on “Oh we see something, let’s go chase that.” You really have to have a strategy and stick to it, although as I mentioned at the outset of the show, that strategy probably has to have been refreshed pretty recently because things have changed a lot. Your 2017 social media strategy is probably not working too great right now.

  • Rohit

    Well, I would say if it is working, great, then that’s a credit to you, right? Because what you planned was something that wasn’t so transient. Because you’re right, somebody will walk into your office and be like, “Hey, we’ve got to be on this new platform because I saw Will Smith’s on Tik Tok. So let’s go. We’ve got to be there.” And I think that a lot of times what we’ll do is we will stop everything else, jump on that, grumble about it and say, “Can you believe that they just want to jump on this thing just because like their kid told them about, like my boss’s kid told them about it, and therefore they want us to jump on it,” but we’ll still do it. Instead of doing what I think we should do more often, which is say yes, and.

  • Rohit

    So if you’ve been spending all this time creating this LinkedIn strategy and now that boss comes in and says, “Look, we’ve got to be on this new platform.” You say, “Sure, we can do this thing over here, and I’m also going to do all this stuff over here to continue this thing that we’re doing.” So that when that fad goes away, you still have those other pieces, that foundation that you’ve been building. Instead of just saying, “Look, I don’t have the time to do both, so we’re just going to stop doing this thing because the boss asked me to do this thing instead.”

  • Jay

    Yeah. That’s what I always advise our clients to do when the boss comes in and says, “We need to be on whatever platform.” Great. Then you should say, “Okay, awesome. What would you like me to stop?” Because there’s… it’s fixed resources. I think everybody who listens to this show understands that you can’t just magically go hire somebody or there’s a limit to how much time you can spend, you and your team.

  • Rohit

    I think one of the most underappreciated ideas in social media is that we can do things on a short period of time and then archive it. I mean, I remember back in 2008, I was leading a social media program for Lenovo for the Olympics. And we had this amazing program where we went out and found a hundred Olympic athletes all around the world. We gave them a computer totally transparently and said, start a blog and we’ll put all the blogs together and we have these hundred Olympians all doing blogs leading up to the Olympics and during the Olympics.

  • Rohit

    Then the Olympics ended. Now obviously we weren’t going to keep that going forever, so we created an archive. We said, “Thanks for joining us for the Olympics. This was so much fun. We had an awesome time. Here’s the archive so you can see everything that people posted, but we’re not hosting this anymore.” And sometimes we need to do that. Like we need to be okay with starting something, doing it for a short amount of time, and then saying, look, we’re done.

  • Rohit

    I remember I started a Twitter account for one of my books, which was the dumbest idea ever. Now you’ve got to manage your Twitter account and other Twitter accounts, but this was back in 2012. I wasn’t maybe as smart as I became by making mistakes. So I had that Twitter account, and then I didn’t want to update it anymore, so I posted one tweet on there, a final tweet that said “I was a Twitter account for a book, I said what I wanted to say, now I’m going dark. You can follow Rohit over here because clearly he has a lot more time than I do.” That’s it. Then I was done.

  • Jay

    Yeah. The Talk Trigger show that I did last year, the Talk Triggers YouTube show and podcast all about word of mouth case studies and success, 20 episodes and out. Planned obsolescence. I did a 20 episode series like you would on Netflix, planned to do 20, did 20, said the 20 that I wanted to say, 20 case studies and on to the next thing which became Standing Ovation, which is my show on speaking.

  • Rohit

    Smart. Very smart.

  • Jay

    So that’s something that we work with a lot of clients on now-

  • Rohit

    Great show.

  • Jay

    This idea of… Thank you, this idea of episodic content, right? There’s a reason why every streaming service is succeeding, right? There’s this idea that there is a show and it might only be six or eight or 10 episodes and then it goes away and then it comes back. People are getting very, very comfortable with that type of content consumption, and so we’re trying to apply that to a lot of [crosstalk 00:45:04]

  • Rohit

    I think we’re still, we’re still in some ways thinking of the old school blogging mentality, which is like once you start a blog, like you’ve got to keep it up to date forever.

  • Jay

    Yeah. Right.

  • Rohit

    And I think we can let that go a little bit.

  • Jay

    Yeah, no question. Rohit, I’m going to ask you the two questions I always ask you here on the program and that we ask all of our guests here on Social Pros. This is now episode 400 and something of this program, which is insane. What one tip would you give our listeners who are looking to become a social pro, other than reading the book?

  • Rohit

    Other than reading the book. Damn, I got nothing else, man. No, I think that the one tip that I would give to everyone is go out and consume content that you don’t agree with. Intentionally fake out the algorithm. Choose to read things in print. Because if I pick up a magazine and you pick up a magazine, it’s the same magazine. It’s not personalized to me.

  • Jay

    Yeah, there’s no algorithm there.

  • Rohit

    [crosstalk 00:46:03] that is huge because I think that we don’t typically realize or appreciate just how much of what we see is delivered to us by someone who’s trying to make sure we don’t see other stuff, because they don’t think will engage with it as much. And so if we’re really going to be social pros, we have to understand how that algorithm works and be able to break ourselves away from it so that we get smarter by reading things that challenge us.

  • Jay

    That’s terrific advice. I really, really like that. Thank you. Last question. If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be and why this year?

  • Rohit

    Any living person? I would have to say Tom Hanks right now just because I watched his talk last night on the award show and I just think that he seems to be a guy who just puts out positivity and treats people well and is still famous. And I think that the world needs more people like that and I think we should celebrate more people like that.

  • Jay

    Yeah. It was interesting last night. We’re recording this, Social Pros listeners, the day after the Golden Globe Awards and Tom Hanks won the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to entertainment. And it really was kind of a moving tribute to him and his speech was terrific. And you know, in Hollywood, which I think by all accounts is kind of a nest of vipers, if everybody in Hollywood is like he’s the man, he’s the best person I’ve ever met. Wow, that really speaks volumes. And to your point, not only is he still famous, he has had a remarkable career. So they say that nice guys finish last, but I disagree wholeheartedly.

  • Rohit

    I disagree and have a personal example of myself and I think yourself who probably refute that for sure.

  • Jay

    Well we’ll keep doing the best we can if nothing else, right?

  • Rohit

    That’s right.

  • Jay

    Thanks so much for taking the time to be here. Congratulations on another fantastic book. Friends, make sure you pick up a copy or an audio version or an electronic version of Non-Obvious Mega Trends. It is going to make your 2020 and beyond that much more successful. Rohit, thanks so much for being back.

  • Rohit

    Thank you.

  • Jay

    Friends, this has been the Social Pros podcast with your host Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud will be back next week. Don’t forget, every single episode is available at socialpros.com, transcripts of every episode, links, special bonus content, all that stuff. And of course, if you’re not subscribing to the show, please do so wherever you get your delicious audio. I’m Jay. We’ll see you next week.

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