Today, Mike Wesch connected our fairly insular industry to the larger world we inhabit.
Wesch, an anthropologist, gave an excellent and thought-provoking keynote address entitled “Our Mediated Culture, and What it Means for Marketers” at the Digital Marketing Forum. It would be impossible for me to adequately summarize his presentation, but interestingly, he barely mentioned “marketing.” The connections were that obvious.
Wesch drew the connection between the media and our sense of identity, both as a culture and individually. “We know ourselves through our relationships with others,” Wesch said. How we view ourselves isn’t innate, but reflected to use through our interactions with others. The advent of television and mass media played a massive role in our growing individualistic society. Yet, “the more individualistic we become, the more we crave community,” Wesch said. That concept is proven by how often we refresh our Facebook pages and long for re-tweets. It’s a search for connection with others and the need for validation for others.
Social media provides an unprecedented ability to connect and contribute, according to Wesch. Each of us, in our own small way, can take part in creating beauty or re-think our identity by interacting and collaborating with previously unreachable cultures.
Wesch threw down the gauntlet. Every day, we put content out into this new world, through tweets, Facebook pages, and blog posts (or even comments). How often do we question the overall value of our contributions? Better yet, do we question how we measure the value of our contributions? There’s nothing wrong with desiring Facebook “likes” or Twitter followers or NPS. These metrics have real practical value.
But in all our conversations about page views and unique visitors, we can lose sight of the big picture. Wesch brought that global view to our luncheon. Deep in the weeds of our daily work, we can forget that marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. With every click of the publish button, we should ask how we are contributing to our colleagues, our consumers, our friends, fans, and family.