The Masses are the Media
It wasn't so long ago that brands held dominant sway over the media. Television, movies, radio, print... all of them were things the masses engaged with primarily as a result of there not being anything else. Our stories were implanted through those mediums, sometimes as adverts, other times through the work of our public relations teams.
Then the internet came of age. And more specifically, then Social Media came of age.
Now, the masses are the media.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, et al have all re-written the act of what 'media' means. The masses are constantly connected, both with each other, and with media from everywhere. Everyone is now a content publisher. Every platform is accessible. And this has fundamentally changed the way we need to market our brands.
The adverts that used to work are passed by as distraction. Just look at the declining success of display ads. Commercials are neutralized in the on-demand culture that surrounds television. Conventional product placement has been replaced by the concept of influencers. And marketing teams have whole new divisions to create content.
This drastic shift is a byproduct of the masses choosing what's worthy. If it's great, they share it. If it's not, it's smothered. Now, more than ever, the emphasis behind our brands must fall not only on being authentic to the mission and vision, but how we can best tell the stories of success and impact the brand has.
Further, this increased dichotomy between risk and reward has leveled the playing field. Well-known brands are forced to compete on the same playing field with the lesser-knowns. Quality, not caliber is placed at a premium. Half-efforts, which maybe once were easy to mask, are now immediately called out and shunned. But when brands succeed at creating quality stories that resonate, the reward is the masses spread the content viral.
This control means the Masses have now taken over as the media. We must turn our stories over to them, and they will be the final judge.