The (Welcome) Demise of “Interruption Marketing”

In this day and age, I believe paid advertising is tantamount to spamming.

Here is how the Urban Dictionary defines spam:

spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam. That is what spam is. Would be better without it.

Each day, we are inundated with a veritable blitzkrieg of marketing messages that assault our senses—and insult our sensibilities.

When you are watching a television program, reading a magazine or engaging in social media, you probably don’t appreciate the interruption marketing. You didn’t ask for it; it normally does not apply to you; and it wastes your time. I imagine that most people feel the same way, which is why we are all figuring out how to eliminate “interruption marketing” from our lives—from TiVo to anti-spam software to Twitter’s “unfollow” button.

With the breathtaking array of largely cost-free tools now available to engage in meaningful dialogue with customers—in aggregate, “social media”—it is halfhearted when a company cavalierly throws money at paid ads, which merely interrupt people with messages they increasingly don’t want and don’t appreciate.

A brand’s level of authentic engagement in social media is an accurate litmus test for how much they care about their customers. It’s that simple. Paying an advertising agency to design a slick, emotionally-evocative ad to draw in as many people as possible, often by over-promising and over-hyping a product or service worked in 1950. Not now. It does not convey care.

People in social media have particularly sensitive antennae. They know the difference between a brand’s cavalier involvement and genuine engagement. And, they’re rewarding the brands that listen to them and care about them—with their business and their increasingly far-reaching advocacy.

Prior to engaging in social media, the questions you need to ask yourself, and everyone in your company, is:

“Do we have a product or service that tangibly improves people’s lives? Are we prepared to listen intently—and, genuinely care?”

Until you get resounding, unanimous “yeses” to those questions, it’s best to hold off on social media … and wait until you do.

Eric Harr is the Founder & President of Resonate Social Media, a leading, integrated social media agency in San Francisco. He is an award-winning TV host on CBS News and the best-selling author of the new book “The REAL TRUTH About Social Media: 8 Timeless Truths Uncovered & 8 Monumental Myths Revealed” available now in ebook or print edition.

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