From the number of LinkedIn requests I get for pitches, it looks like there are more self-styled digital advertising and social media experts than there are users.
And there is also no dearth of marketers urging their digital and non-digital agencies to get more fans for their brands, almost as though that alone will help them log in to the Pearly Gates. In this search for the Holy Grail of new-age brands, here’s a look at the Seven Deadly Sins ver. 2.0.
Wrath: Anger. Pure, illogical, vengeful spite. Expressed by a digitally-alien superboss at his marketing team and agency. Manifests itself in phrases like “We need more fans on Facebook, otherwise my BP will hit the roof!” or “We must twit (sic) more often!!” or “Even my daughter has more frands (sic) than our brand has online!” Usually results in subordinates’ suppressed sniggers followed by frantic display of activity that leads to poorly-designed social media profiles and no real strategy.
Envy: More often than not, the emotion behind Wrath. Instigated by afore-mentioned daughter’s dinner-table barb, “Papa, MTV has 27,973,234 fans on Facebook, I have 1,317 frands and your brand has only 126?” Papa forgets that his Indo-French company manufactures an engineering byproduct likely to be purchased only by the 19 nuclear power plants in India in the event of a meltdown. Blinded by jealousy at MTV’s fan base, he forgets his niche and his target audience profile and BBMs his deputy who still hasn’t figured out why it is so important to tell everyone on Facebook what your dog had for breakfast even before it has finished wolfing it down.
Lust: Envy leads to Lust and our marketer sits down to pore over the most popular Twitterati and Facebook profiles. Acquires access to a proxy server that allows him to surf networking sites (and other similar portals of pleasure) while his team grumbles about in-house policing policies. More time is then spent ogling at other profiles and reading tweets than on genuine customer acquisition.
Greed: If the number of fans and followers is directly proportional to the variable compensation of the in-house social media specialist, then Greed is a direct byproduct. Every trick is called into play to either acquire new fans or to carry out masked raids on competitors’ pages and plant complaints in a modern remake of MAD magazine’s classic Spy vs Spy series. Contests urging unsuspecting consumers are run so that the fan count goes up until Facebook invokes clauses 3, 4 and 5 of its Promotions Guidelines and pulls the plug on aforementioned marketer’s greedily-built fan base. (Imagine SFX here: sound of helium balloon bursting!)
Gluttony: Usually associated with excessive consumption, Gluttony manifests itself in repeated accessing of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and even Orkut to keep checking what the score is. In meetings where it is mandated that laptops must be shut, mobile phones are furtively looked at. And when all else fails, comfort breaks are resorted to with increasingly frequent visits to the restroom to check how many fans have ‘liked’ the last update. The boss suspects you have diabetes but you know that ‘laptop’ written backwards spells ‘pot pal’. In the process, you focus more on social media and less on the business itself which, by the end of the fiscal, definitely helps you get more virtual fans while your competitor gets more real customers.
Pride: Considered the original and deadliest sin, Pride blinds the marketer who believes he can do no wrong as long as his brand is hyper-active on Facebook. Blinkered in this fashion, he begins to ignore real-world signals of falling market share and keeps showcasing the number of Likes on the brand page or the retweets he gets. By now, vanity has taken over and negative comments are deleted, users are being blocked… a downward spiral has begun.
Sloth: Laziness, indifference, apathy… all manifestations of Sloth. The digital marketer has, by now, shrunk his world to his cubicle with his laptop as his window to the street. Market visits aren’t needed – after all, his community interacts with him in real time right here! Nothing can go wrong now as long as he rules the virtual roost. Expensive analytic tools, acquired in greed, are now languishing because there is no real need to monitor what is happening – all is well and the to-do list includes only status updates and tweets.
And thus endeth this sermon… time to log out now.
(Mohit Hira is Chief Marketing Officer, Career Solutions Business, NIIT Ltd. The views expressed here are his own, with some help from observing the social media pundits.)