According to sociologist Zygmunt Bauman (1925–2017), we live in the era of liquid modernity. This concept deftly defines the 21st century society in which we find ourselves. We are accustomed to living in a time of rapid change, certain that things, relationships and jobs will not last long, and that new opportunities will appear and devalue the existing ones.
Communication in the liquid era
How do we create a marketing strategy in this ever-changing world? It is not easy. Long-term strategies are in question because we live in an era mired in constant manoeuvring. Brands know that everything changes from moment to moment, loyalty to them is an illusion and, in the meantime, advertising agencies scour all their available resources to establish ideas in the minds of consumers while fully aware that we are all changing subjects.
In this age of liquid modernity, the river that enables everything communication-related to flow freely is the internet. We only need to quote Bill Gates, “There will be two types of businesses in the 21st century: those that are on the internet and those that are out of business.”
Multitasking digital communicators
Every channel is a means to an end. The internet and the explosion of social media, along with globalisation, have transformed marketing and communication. To understand how we communicate now, it is very important to note that there exists today a hybridisation between multiple disciplines – audiovisual communication, journalism and advertising. For this reason, the most desirable career profile in marketing is a multi-talented all-rounder with a strong command of everything digital. Companies are searching for a complete communicator: someone who combines audiovisual, advertising and journalism expertise. An online content manager and graphic designer who can also shoot and edit video, who works in a comprehensive way, who is able to promote the brand using keywords (SEO), carry out SEM campaigns, and work effectively on Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing.
In this sense, the most noteworthy change to have occurred in recent years is that media outlets are no longer necessary in order to reach an audience. Brands need to reach the end user, and new technologies have led to the emergence of new digital marketing techniques. Into one’s know-how, one must already incorporate concepts like ad blocking, data-driven publishing, inbound marketing, newsjacking, programmatic buying, second screens and snackable content, to name but a few, if one wants to survive in this new fluidity that now defines our communication.
Human to Human (H2H)
Where do we stand at the moment? Surely you have already heard of the concepts B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer), which, thanks to Digital Marketing, have led to H2H, a concept developed by Bryan Kramer that stands for Human to Human. In reality it marks a return to a more primitive concept of Marketing, but one that is now fuelled and assisted by the use of social media. In this liquid society, many consumers have lost faith in brands. But in spite of this, people still trust people.
It is for this reason that an increasing number of brands create more personalised marketing where communication is direct and emotive, representing a new and more real connection with said brands. The formula involves building marketing campaigns that focus more on an experience and position corporations as friends (who engage in conversation) and not as businesses (who focus on their customers).
The 5 main principles:
- Humanise the brand. Making the people within the company visible provides a sense of humanity. Highly associated with Personal Branding.
- Be part of a community. Customers who are satisfied (and those who are not) share their opinions with others, encouraging viralisation and loyalty.
- Convey emotions. Build positive associations with the products, it will contribute towards generating engagement.
- We are social creatures. Brands must provide spaces where customers can comment and interact socially.
- Transparency and truth. Customers request, or can request, all the available data on brands, demanding transparency before investing their trust.
Where are we headed? The fourth industrial revolution is already upon us: artificial intelligence; Big Data; augmented, virtual and mixed reality… So-called Predictive Marketing is a new approach that aims to predict the consumption patterns of a brand’s target audience over the short, medium and long term. Based on the data that can be compiled and analysed thanks to Big Data, brands can communicate through personalised advertising that is aligned with preferences.
Ultimately, this appears to be the most profitable solution, as it creates advertising related to searches and tastes. However, it also presents specific problems related to the privacy and protection of user data, along with disputes regarding the leaking or sale of said data, as has previously been the case with Facebook.
It is obvious that Predictive Marketing provides significant advantages for brands, such as increasing user engagement, speeding up the sales cycle, improving the personalisation of consumer campaigns, and improving the profitability of the money and effort invested in advertising.
In conclusion, personal data and the analysis of said data are more useful and relevant for brands today than ever before. In these times of Bauman’s liquid modernity the boundaries are blurred, but communication is more essential than ever and, in this realm, Digital Marketing is king.
Author: Joan Margarit, Marketing and Communication Analyst