Once upon a time when the king or queen wanted to say something they did. They sent off a town crier to spread the news far and wide. They weren’t troubled by things like simultaneous sharing of material or price-sensitive information, whether it was the right thing to say or other such mundane rules of corporate communications. Then of course the printing press happened and journalists were created and then editors started deciding what was fit to be printed. Donald Trump is now showing that all this is a thing of the past. He was elected due to the power of social media and is now returning the favour. He tweets about what he thinks about companies and countries and possibly cabbages and kings too. And since what he says can be made to be reality – like keeping jobs in a country through incentives – it impacts the share prices of the companies. Oh, I can see why he does it – who would not like to have free, uncontrolled access to millions of your target audience? Even his approach to diplomatic relations sounds a lot like fraandships on Facebook – he’s just having chats with his “awesome” buddies, from Pakistan to Russia to Taiwan. Never mind if your country doesn’t officially support that country’s desire for independence, no harm in taking a call from a friend, is there? It’s just a little ‘like’, no harm done.
In India, while the government continues to spend on traditional media, if you want to know what the Prime Minister is doing you just need to check his tweets. Everything is out there – including his recommendation to listen to the latest ads from the government. This is in addition to the newsletter, website and app. Sounds like a good corporate marketing plan, doesn’t it? Like I said, anyone who depends on votes to get elected is going to love any medium that allows them access to the voters. And Twitter does fill this need in many countries. So even as it faces financial gloom, it should take heart in being the favourite channel of the leaders of the free world. Maybe Mr Trump will help to keep those valuable jobs in the US, and Mr Modi can direct some of the massive DAVP spends in Twitter’s direction.
Meanwhile, marketers need to gear up for a world where heads of state and large powerful publishers (people with over a million followers on Twitter, say) can say whatever they want whenever they want without any fact-checking. Sometimes it’s a glitch – for example, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was declared dead on his own site – and sometimes it is deliberately fake news. If you thought dealing with fake reviews was bad enough, imagine dealing with fake financial information about your firm. Even as the rise of publishing tools makes it possible for everyone to look credible, I think we may soon have a back-lash and a demand for authenticity/credibility ratings much like Twitter’s verified profile ticks. When I visit a site I’d be happy if some reputed body told me that the site was ‘credible’, and you and I might even be willing to pay a bit for that, particularly in areas that impact your health and wealth. (Is that doctor with the super duper online rating for real or did he just find a good SEO agency? Is that home remedy going to make you better or slowly poison you?)
It’s a whole new world and we’re all learning, together. Next week is a Super Week for those interested in “Data Driven Customer Experience”. Supported by Microsoft and 9.9 Media, I’m kicking off the week with a webinar on Monday, the 12th December at 3pm. Then there’s a private CMO Roundtable I’m co-hosting with Microsoft for select senior executives in Delhi on 13th. Wrapping up the week with a bang our Editorial team is co-hosting a set of awesome Leadership Strategy Workshops in Mumbai and Delhi in partnership with 9.9 Media and Microsoft. To know more, email me.
We have two winners for last week’s quiz “Why did the marketer change his religion?” (See the answer here). The winners are Vrinda Pisharody and Abhishek Rathi. Please email me your postal address within 7 days to receive your custom Paul Writer “I love Marketing” cushion. And here’s this week’s whacky question – “Why did the marketer send all her customers biscuits for Christmas?”
Jessie Paul is the Founder and CEO of Paul Writer, a firm she founded in early 2010 to raise the bar for marketing in India. Previously, as Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro’s IT business and as Global Brand Manager at Infosys, Jessie has been recognized for her contribution towards putting the Indian IT industry on the global map. With over 18 years in services marketing, including a stint with Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, Jessie is considered an expert in brand globalization and has been named one of the most influential business women in the Indian IT industry.