Image by Garry Knight.

Image by Garry Knight.

For the longest time branding has been a one-sided dictation. It followed a format. As advertisers, we got your attention, made our most convincing claim and directed you where to go. The conversation was controlled. Social media has changed that process. By being able to interact with brands, having equal access to media, it has become less about dictation and more about conversation.

Why is this important? Think about how the Internet changed job applications. When first introduced, everyone jumped at the opportunity to apply to more jobs quickly, efficiently and with clothing optional. Rule #1: Never underestimate how much people hate pants. This ease of use led to a negative and unintended consequence. The average job now had hundreds, thousands of applicants.

HR departments were overwhelmed and couldn’t review all submissions. They then had to create processes to filter out the average and undesirable. Eventually people had to find better, more proactive ways to get noticed. The guy who made a billboard got a job. The girl who created a successful blog got a job. The guy who created a Kickstarter page about getting a job….got a job.

The same now applies to branding. Greater access leads to greater competition. Successful branding now requires a creativity, an ability to create something louder than all the noise that exists. It’s easier to create and find content but I would argue that it is just as difficult to truly be noticed – noticed at a level that moves the meter, puts you in a different tax bracket, excites investors.

Dollar Shave Club is still the gold standard in hilarious product videos but it has opened the door for many others. Let’s talk about MyPakage. On name alone the upstart underwear company turns heads and is open to unlimited wordplay. Their Christmas video is a perfect example of how to create something louder than all of the other noise.

Here are a few tips. Use social media. Great ideas are still valuable, just make sure you are ready at the right moment to release them. Most will tell you to use social media after you launch a promotion to continue engagement. Think about that in reverse. Use social media to create buzz and involvement prior to launch – it will pay dividends in the long run and create a base of support to drive promotion.

Communications, public relations have not changed. What has changed is the distribution. I create social content that is designed to reach a certain level of discussion, impressions, reach. Once there, I can take that to traditional media. Traditional media is still what drives the exponential growth of content. Social media is used to create the groundswell necessary to make it an easy decision for broadcasters to cover that content. Connections still help, there is still a dance but it comes down to something quite simple for a decision maker. Would you rather cover something with no social discussion or 1 Million YouTube views and 10k tweets. That’s a no-brainer. That’s how you create “viral” content. There is a formula behind it, nothing that rivals something Good Will Hunting would write on a chalkboard but it is mathematical. Both the movie and the item are dated references but you get what I’m saying.

Social media has very little to do with the tools used and almost everything to do with the conversation that is created. Human psychology hasn’t changed greatly. Just like during the golden days of Don Draper, you are still trying to lead people to an action. Don’t let so-called social media gurus, ninjas, swamis and other strange titles complicate it for you. Social media is not complicated, only nuanced. People that know it well are great communicators. Most stumbled upon that by accident, myself included.

Make your content flexible. Use trending conversation as a catalyst for your content launch. Tap in to large, existing social networks or influencers to drive your content. Create strategic relationships with media. Have fun. Be conversational online. Bare it all.