The Media Double Standard

Submitted by on the 29th of September 2016

The rise of new social media platforms isn’t going to slow down any time soon. As a strategist at Cerebra, it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of social trends, content innovations and new social networks.

As a consumer and a marketer, I’ve noticed a troubling trend in platform adoption. Consumers, particularly the younger demographic, are quick to adopt new social media platforms while brands – which want to do everything possible to reach their audiences – are far behind. Many are late to the game or don’t pitch up at all.

Snapchat, as an example, has been around since September 2011 and, with 150 million people using it each day, it’s more popular than Twitter by daily active users. Why, then, are so many brands still treating it like a pointless gimmick not worthy of their social media strategies? The argument is often made along the lines of, “It’s just another platform”, “it’s a fad”, “we don’t want to invest in something that might not make it”, and so on.

Sure, brands should be careful about where they invest their time, energy, and money, but here’s my gripe; we don’t treat other advertising media as harshly as social networks like Snapchat.

Prime time television – the traditional gold mine for brandvertisers to claim eager eye-balls – continues to see enormous amounts of money flowing in. Major brands pay upfront to advertise during shows without really knowing if the series will be around for more than one episode, let alone one season. Then, if the show is cancelled, they have their money shifted to another show (which was not the intent of their original buy). Hypocritical, isn’t it?

This current double standard in media is laughable at best and stupid at worst. Whether Snapchat or any other relevant platforms in this space are here in the next six months or six years is completely irrelevant.

The phone is now the television and, while it’s far more powerful, the media principles remain intact. When Snapchat is popular, you run advertising and spend more time creating content for it. When it’s not, you spend less. It’s pretty simple.

Brands need to go where the attention is and, in today’s social landscape, attention is a commodity. We shouldn’t be wasting our energy thinking about whether things are going to go away. We need to think about what’s important for your brand or business right now and spend our energy coming up with smart agile strategies that will work with this approach in mind.

The counter-argument here is that we, as marketing strategists, shouldn’t be looking at platforms with our advertising hats on, but should consider that many brands are comfortable with having a simple brand presence. But, in today’s social universe ‘having just a presence’ simply isn’t good enough.