There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules. They can tell you that people in an ad will get you greater readership. They can tell you that a sentence should be this sort or that long. They can tell you that body copy should be broken up for easier reading. They can give you fact after fact after fact. They are the scientists of advertising. But there’s one little rub. Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.
That was Bill Bernbach in 1947. 65 years later, this sentiment is more relevant than ever, especially in the social sphere. There are certain social media people that would like to tell you that it’s all a science. To get good interaction your content should be the right length, with the link in the right place, with the right hashtags and the right image. It’s a formula that you drag and drop pieces into. The problem is social media isn’t a science, it’s a community.
Now I don’t want to downplay the importance of good practices; we have them for a reason. But good practices are a guideline. When we become a slave to them we lose some of the humanity that is needed to manage a community of humans. For example, I got a private message on one of the Facebook pages I manage. It was nothing but a heart emoji. The “good practice” response would have been to say something like: Thank you so much for your comment, Harley! It means a lot to us that you’re enjoying our page. Let us know if you have any questions and we’d be happy to help you!
Instead I did this:
Was this specific conversation silly? Yes. Mostly irrelevant to the overall marketing effort of the brand? Yes. But did it make that person happy? I think so. These little moments of humanity are the difference between sounding genuine and sounding like a robot. And that is not irrelevant to the overall marketing effort of the brand.