In A Connected Society, Comprehension Of Sociology Is King
Something strange has happened. It’s more than just your marketing being dated, although that happened too. There is a deeper shift that has occurred and few have caught up with it.
It’s that marketing itself was disrupted. We need something else. And what’s next is going to look more sociology-driven than something taken from a marketing best practices book.
Traditional marketing tenants were designed for a society where communication from the few to the many was the norm. We were all taught them. But they’re sort of useless. Hear me out: it’s not that items such as broadcast media can’t successfully reach the masses. They can. But reach can no longer be equated with influence, reach for the sake of reach is obsolete. People know better, and they no longer take messages at face value. I know what some of you are thinking – the masses don’t. Except that they do. The next generation of “the masses” grew up with the web, and the web connects all of us. The trend isn’t to trust companies, in a connected society it is to trust each other.
Understanding the connections between each other, between members of the same industries, between those with a common interest and not just how, but why information travels throughout social graphs is emerging as the valuable skill of tomorrow.
Many are embracing digital channels, sure, but it’s disappointing how most try to pattern what was done on previous mediums. To date, ideas I’ve executed by approaching from a sociological standpoint than a marketing standpoint were ultimately the most successful.
Social proofing is the new black
If you’re involved in marketing/PR and not leveraging social proofing, you’re ignoring the ultimate persuasion tool. Social proofing is so powerful a force, it can even be used for marketing yourself in an authentic light. It’s powerful because it’s difficult or impossible to manufacture, however it’s achieved only with a true comprehension of audience dynamics. You can’t just pay for social proofing, or even pitch people to achieve it. Rather, you need an applied strategy to solicit organic responses from those with authority. You also need to warrant it. Additionally, once achieved, applying social proofing to achieve end objectives also requires an innate understanding of how it will resonate with target audiences.
Social sciences are advancing quickly
There are so many fascinating studies being conducted using digital communications tools, many conducted by those fluent in social sciences. I’ve been reading quite a few interesting studies in the past several months and much of the data and research has direct application to marketing. There are smart people putting data behind previously nebulous scenarios such as how ideas spread, how markets change and how we make decisions. I plan on incorporating many of the proven frameworks I’ve been studying into my own marketing strategies. In fact, personally I would say overall studying of sociology has proven more valuable to me than studying marketing.
We draw upon our social networks in increasing complex and invisible ways
Through a mix of technologies, our social networks have been switched to “always-on.” When we’re all connected, all the time, the way we interact, how we get information, and who influences us changes. Traditional marketing wasn’t designed with this in mind – however an understanding of sociology allows us to better predict outcomes and understand these situations better.
Not “is this a good marketing idea,” but how will this connect people
There is power in being a connector. We’re all looking for those to connect us with each other, with information, with companies, we crave it. But we’re looking for it to happen organically in a fluid and unstructured setting. Unartfully forcing connections never fosters the same types of relationships as those which are organic, or even serendipitous. With comprehension of sociology, especially applying it to digital interactions, you may be able to consciously guide people down this path.
Sociology + marketing = a winning formula
The web is in many ways just a big social science experiment. I noted in a previous post on Twitter insights that sociology and psychology students/professors must be having a good time studying us.
As a marketer, I know we’re studying the web, but I question if marketers view the world through the proper lens to get a clear picture of digital culture. Sociologists have an advantage, they are primed for this. Or do they? Most of their case studies, theories and data are out there for you to learn from. And that’s where your opportunity as someone looking to spread ideas comes in. Learn the intersection of sociology and marketing and you will uncover a potent formula for success.
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