The business benefit of social isolation and other observations

social isolation

Too short for a blog post, too important to ignore, here are some short takes from the world of marketing and beyond.

Money drives social isolation

Recently I posted about how an unintended consequence of the massive amount of personalized content choices has sent young people into sociological siloes. They consume content in isolation and have fewer shared experiences than their parents.

This launched a debate about why this is happening. I think the answer is simple: Money.

Money drives everything. What are we trying to accomplish as marketers? Personalization. For your business, for any business, it’s about personalization. The more we personalize, the happier our customers are because they get exactly what they want.

There is no “deep state” making us personalize content as part of a master plan to control us. We personalize and segment people because it’s good business. But what one customer wants is different than what you and I want, so now we’re in our own content silos — by choice. We have EXTREME individual choice regarding content and entertainment — in fact, far too many options. But nobody wants to go back to the days of one daily newspaper and three network TV channels, right?

Our individual choices put us in silos because we want content our way, supporting views of the world aligned with our own views. In a weird way, there is a business benefit to social isolation. But personalization in the extreme creates loneliness.

Weird LinkedIn Tricks

All of a sudden, I’m getting LinkedIn notifications that people are responding to posts that are three, four, and even five years old. This is unexpected and weird. So I asked LinkedIn expert Richard Bliss what the heck is going on. He pointed to three possible factors:

  1. I had been asked to participate in collaborative articles through LinkedIn. I’m not sure what I’ve done that put me into that category. But Richard said this is putting me in front of a new audience that is checking out old content.
  2. An algorithm change is trying to put relevant content before a new audience. It is possible your content is being indexed and then served to small groups interested in that topic.
  3. The recent partnership between LinkedIn and Google means your articles are now being indexed by Google and showing up in search results.

Apple is different

In a recent post, I forecast that the speed of marketing is one of the most pressing and interesting trends.

A member of my RISE community asked, “Is Apple the exception to the importance of speed in marketing? They don’t participate in memes or other in-the-moment-marketing.”

Great question. Apple is different because it is a luxury good. They’ll never be part of the social media track meet (like Gucci or Lamborghini). They are never first to market, but they’re never too late either.

Luxury good marketing has a completely different flow and pace. I discussed this in a podcast episode with Amanda Russell — one of the most fascinating discussions!

AI and humanity

I had a Twitter discussion with a friend who claimed, “We can’t trust humanity.”

I responded, “I agree that humanity can’t be trusted. But there are people who we trust. Those are the ones who can transcend the AI misinformation onslaught. There are individuals you’ll always turn to.”

The business case for the personal brand!

The big question

The most important question for marketers in the future will be: “Can an AI bot do this?”

This will push us to be more creative, more weird, and more human, or we will be replaced. Truly, the most human company wins.

No, it’s not

I’ve been preparing for a big new speech about brand communities and have found lots of articles touting community successes. Many people confuse a loyalty program with a community.

Loyalty programs are great, but that’s not a community. Having a loyalty card shows you love the brand, but it’s not a group of people working toward a common purpose. A community needs to know each other.

Let’s bust an AI myth

Here is advice I see over and over, and it drives me crazy: “AI isn’t going to take your job, but someone who knows AI will.”

This implies that if you know AI you will somehow be safe. This is false. AI will overtake many knowledge worker jobs whether you know AI or not. And there may not necessarily be a person behind that AI. The technology will become ubiquitous and companies will use it to reduce headcount ruthlessly. This is already happening in the tech industry.

This advice is like telling a person who made horse buggies in the 1920s: “The automobile won’t take your job, but somebody who knows automobiles will.” No, automobiles eliminated their job, not some person. And even if you “know” automobiles, your buggy business is dead, no matter how much re-training you have.

I’m a positive person, but I also want to be realistic about what is happening.

Distrust is the default

I couldn’t sleep after a long overseas flight, and while flipping through Instagram, I saw a post featuring other-worldly, mesmerizing butterflies. Then I wondered, “Is this real? Is nature really this beautiful, or did somebody make this up?” There was no way to tell.

It saddens me that I can’t even look at butterflies these days without being skeptical. Distrust is the default now.

And now, some good news

Over the next few months, we will hear A LOT of bad news about AI. Deep fakes. Political misinformation. Bullying and chaos.

The bad stuff makes great headlines, but don’t miss out on the extreme new levels of discovery, innovation, and beauty that have been unleashed by AI.

A non-profit called The Earth Species Project aims to use AI to interpret animal communication systems. That makes my heart skip a beat.

So embrace the chaos and look at how AI is bringing new beauty into the world.

Need a keynote speaker? Mark Schaefer is the most trusted voice in marketing. Your conference guests will buzz about his insights long after your event! Mark is the author of some of the world’s bestselling marketing books, a college educator, and an advisor to many of the world’s largest brands. Contact Mark to have him bring a fun, meaningful, and memorable presentation to your company event or conference.

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Image courtesy MidJourney

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