Radio Berkman 155: The Gamble
Let’s admit it: the advertising world we once knew is long dead. In a couple short decades, the digital revolution has fundamentally undermined all of the old arbiters of image, from Madison Avenue to Hollywood to K Street.
Companies have been quick to jump ship and join the social media bandwagon. Even without clear proof that Facebook and smartphone apps will garner them an audience. It’s almost enough to make Don Draper roll over in his scotch glass.
But it’s not just Facebook and smartphones that companies have to worry about. Be it the blockbuster movie producer trying to find ticket buyers, the multinational pizza company seeking hungry consumers, or the home-based graphic novelist looking for readers — the ways of reaching an audience are now limitless. And there is a premium for “sticky” experiences that engage consumers, over the old-fashioned billboards and banner ads which consumers are more likely to overlook. And building these experiences can be risky, and costly.
Still, companies are taking the gamble, buying up companies with no clear revenue model, and investing in experimental outreach strategies for which “success” has only a few solid metrics.
To navigate the muddy waters of digital outreach you need a guide. Sarah Szalavitz is one of the more informed and experienced folks in the social media world. Founder and CEO of 7-Robot — as well as a former Berkman Fellow, Harvard Law Graduate, and media mogul with too many credits to mention (we put some links in the Reference Section below) — Sarah swung by the Berkman Center not long ago for a conversation about what she calls “social design” and the cooperative evolution of brands, people, and social media spaces.