Everything for marketers these days is about connecting brands to people and people to brands, isn’t it? Connection and engagement is the new currency, but in reality, do people even want to connect with brands? I don’t think so. Not unless there’s something in it for them. I don’t care about Coke, but I’ll happily claim a can in exchange for a Like on Facebook. I’m not the slightest bit interested in Dominos, but they can have my email address for 20% off. People couldn’t care less about the brand, we’re all selfish and we only care about what’s in it for us.
Companies that have been built with the aim of connecting brands with people and people with brands, in my opinion, fail. It’s a dead end. Where’s FourSquare these days? I know a few people that used it last year, but have lost interest now. And I’ve never seen any brand on Yelp, even in London, with much more than a handful of reviews. Even Facebook doesn’t reach anywhere near its potential for brands, given the millions of people on the network and it bending over backwards to accommodate them, because people use it to connect with people, not brands. Even when we do connect with brands on Facebook, that still means nothing. Just because you have 30,000 fans doesn’t mean that each one (or even any) of them will be cueing to buy your products or pay for your service. A Like means sweet F-A, it’s simply a tip of the cap and doesn’t show any kind of intent or commitment.
The companies that win are those that do what Facebook still does well and connect people with people. Connect those that want something with those that have it, like Craigslist. Connect those that are selling with those that are buying, like eBay. Connect those that are interested with those that are interested in the same, like online dating. The success of these dating websites proves that people care about people and being connected with other similar people, not brands. We’re even willing to pay you for connecting us.
The brands out there today that are still creating catchy tag lines and trying as hard as they can to ‘engage’ people are fighting a losing battle. They’re the brands that are trying to keep their products relevant and non-commodity-like in a world full of increasing irrellavence and commodities. Brands that have changed their marketing communications; maybe introduced social media and content marketing, but haven’t changed anything else about the organisation like the way it functions, its purpose, its processes or its products, are on a downward spiral.
For the brands selling these commodities – and they’ll be more and more of them in the age of abundance and plummeting prices – if you want people to connect or engage, it’ll only happen if there’s something in it for those that do. A behind the scenes look into the brand or extra content is about as appetising as bum fluff soup. What’s your Ariel? Scrunch or fold? This is like asking people to join the discussion on Facebook to let us know if you piss in the bath. “Join the discussion on Facebook”. Pff, no thanks mate. This stuff will never be enough because we don’t care about these brands. We want real benefits like free stuff and exclusive discounts. And this isn’t really a recipe for long term success is it?
The sooner brands realise that people don’t care about the brand half as much as you think, stop worrying about doing social media and whatever everyone else is doing these days and focus on what matters to their customers, the better off we’ll all be.