It wasn’t too long ago that media required significant planning, time, equipment and expense. Take a simple press proof (what’s that you say?). When I was a young print designer, the process could take days, involved toxic chemicals and cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Everyone in the process, from the designer to the proofer to the client was careful not to miss a single detail. After all, recovering from mistakes was harder back then. A simple missed typo could cost you loads of money, precious time, your reputation, and in extreme cases, your job or business. Now the process has mostly been replaced with emails and PDFs and reduced down to minutes instead of hours or days.
We have seen it get cheaper, faster and easier to publish and consume in nearly every media segment. It seemed, for a while, that we didn’t need to worry as much about little mistakes. Publish your blog with a typo? Simply update it. Regret something you Tweet? Delete it (well, sort of). Accidentally print your business cards with the wrong number? Reprint them. As the cost of mistakes went down, so did the repercussions. I know some of you are thinking of the viral gaffs you see on YouTube or the story you saw of someone not being hired due to their Facebook profile or the classic “Reply All” of nightmares. As sensational as these examples can be, they are outliers compared to the vast amount of what’s published every second of every day without incident.
The novelty of this newfound freedom sent us all into a frenzy and manifested itself in many different ways. With the cost of media and repercussions of mistakes at an all time low, our confidence and desire to “publish” skyrocketed. It started with the never-ending stream of emails we all get. Then social media came to the scene and we overlooked all kinds of mistakes from one another due to pure novelty (yes, your dinner does look delicious). As adoption exploded, more advertisers, spammers and bloggers got into the mix, the noise became deafening and it’s only going to keep getting louder. Today mistakes don’t require typos or gaffs; the mistake most of us make is simply adding to the noise without adding value and many of us don’t even realize we are doing it.
The days of cheap and effortless social media success are gone – even by the casual user’s standards. As the web and social platforms mature and the novelty fades, we all need to invest more effort into creating and maintaining the value of said mediums. Soon everyone will be considering this value, from what they put out into the world to those to whom they choose to engage and connect. For most of us, the price for not doing so will be obscurity. For marketers it will mean our livelihood.
Creating that value will always have a cost and as demand for attention increases, so will that cost and so it should. If you are a marketer, there will probably be a monetary expense (advertising, management tools, etc.), but no matter who you are, it will definitely cost resources of thought, time and effort.
You can try to go the “cheap” route, but people will stop listening – if for no other reason than the need to keep up with the barrage of information being thrown at them.