We are all familiar with the philosophical question posed by George Berkeley in the 1700s; “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” In answering the question, George Berkeley goes on to write, “objects of sense exist only when they are perceived.”
This was incredibly profound in its day. Today, we as marketers continuously ask ourselves a similar question. If a marketing campaign is launched and there is no one around to hear it, does it make an impact? For many years now, marketers have been screaming that television is dying and its ability to reach and grab consumers is waning. I am not here to argue this point. My point is, the same argument against television as an effective marketing vehicle, can be used against most, if not all, marketing mediums. If a consumer does not perceive or engage in your message, does it make a sound?
So much focus is placed on the medium to deliver high expectations of consumer engagement. Digital communications were introduced as a more efficient and effective way to engage consumers. Social media is being heralded for its ability to engage consumers where they want to engage. Yet, when you look at the engagement rates of most of these mediums, they are very low. It is estimated that on average, less than one percent of a brand’s Facebook fans will “LIKE” a brand message. Approximately 10% to 12% of consumers who sign up or opt-in to a brand’s community will engage in the brand’s digital communications or track on the website.
We have an Engagement Gap. If we assume approximately 1% of a Brand’s Facebook fans “LIKE” something, then 99% do not. If we assume that 12% of a Brand’s digital database visits the website, then 88% do not. This is the Engagement Gap. Please understand, this is not intended to be a comment on the efficacy of digital or social media, but rather a comment on our use of it. Savvy marketers have long understood that brilliant television campaigns can deliver fantastic business results (and yes they are measurable). The converse is that a below average or poor creative campaign will yield nothing. Creative content drives results. Creative content drives engagement.
Top-notch marketers spend a lot of time and resources working with their creative agencies to develop great copy. How much time and resources are spent developing top-notch digital and social creative? Television is very costly. It makes sense that marketers do not want to make a mistake with this vehicle. Digital and social are low cost. Are marketers OK with less than effective creative because the vehicle is cheap?
Digital and social vehicles are brilliant marketing tools. They do a fantastic job in carrying the creative content from one person to another. However, just because they are great vehicles, it does not mean people are automatically going to engage. The creative message is responsible for doing that. Digital and social can lead a horse to water, but only great creative can make it drink.