Commerce and communication work hand in hand. The earliest form of advertising must have been the retailers calling out to customers in make-shift markets that used to crop up. This then evolved into fixed markets, fixed shops and merchants printing leaflets. Many advertising agencies actually started as leaflet designers and publishers.
Sometime in the 1940s, the business of communication started to get a structure, and agencies started to create advertising as we know of them now. DeBeer’s worked with an agency that wrote the iconic line ‘A Diamond is Forever’ By the 80’s, TV had started to become mainstream and brands started to create ads that appeared on the small screen.
SO, WHAT’S NEW?
The movement from Press to TV was not easy, as the brands had to work with a new creative format. From written word and static picture to spoken word and moving pictures was a change that transformed the business of communication. Now, the arrival of Internet and explosion of social media has created a new media opportunity. Between search, content and influencers, the world of brands has many new ways to connect with its audience.
This is where the real challenge lies today. The advent of influencer marketing has not created a new creative format. Most influencer-driven advertising is either a film or a series of static images. As consumers, do we see a new way of connecting with brands or do we see an incremental way of creating brand following?
Today, everyone who is on social media is an influencer. Each one of us has the ability to influence others about decisions that we take about what to buy, what to wear, where to go for a vacation or even which breed to have as a pet. Perhaps, even decisions about life partners are driven by influencers today.
NEED TO EVOLVE
This is where the whole gamut of influencer marketing needs to evolve. Imagine if the brands decide not to script the communication with influencers, but leave it to them to create the appeal the way they deem fit. This can be a stand-up comic act. This can be a dance at a wedding. This can be a conversation between two friends, not done in typical advertising format. This can be a skit that people perform.
What brands often forget is that the influencers have a unique tone of voice and that tone of voice gives them the ability to influence. By taking away that tone, or not building upon that tone, the brands are not leveraging their full power. Platforms like Tik-Tok did very well to leverage this, as they rode on the power of creators.
In future, if brands really want to leverage the power of influencers, they should let them create what they think is the right content. This is not going to be easy, when all brands want to do is control the conversation.
(The author is Co-founder and CSO, Bang in the Middle)
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