Krug: Harnessing the power of media validation
Krug: Harnessing the power of media validation

A seemingly unending stream of messaging pings us daily – and for as long as we can keep our eyes open.

Our worldview and mood can be dictated by signal strength or access to Wi-Fi. Take a normal person and cut the Ethernet cord. See what happens.

Stage a scientific experiment and allow nature.....

A seemingly unending stream of messaging pings us daily – and for as long as we can keep our eyes open.

Our worldview and mood can be dictated by signal strength or access to Wi-Fi. Take a normal person and cut the Ethernet cord. See what happens.

Stage a scientific experiment and allow nature to take over: Go ahead, I double dog dare you. Temporary outages in Internet connectivity cause panic attacks, rage or worse – and that’s just what sociologists have documented here at our office in Chicago.

We crave media. We live in a time where people have multiple accounts within the same social media platform, so that they may remain connected but keep their worlds separated (work from home; friends from family; and so on and so forth).

It’s overwhelming, but we’re only too willing to be complicit. We’re constantly connected. On some sadistic level, we love it.

What we love most of all is a customized feed of news from traditional sources as well as updates from friends and others that allow us to feel as if we are meaningfully connected. For most, the relationship extends beyond human beings. Most of us have told a number of brands that we want their messaging.

Less than a decade ago, this content commonly was referred to as “advertising,” and many dreaded the bombardment. We sought shelter from it.

So it’s not as if we aren’t interested in the messaging. We don’t like what we don’t like, and social platforms allow us to make those decisions quite literally. Friends, families, interests and brands are virtually indistinguishable. Obviously, when the messaging is requested, it’s more appropriately to think of the relationship as an extension of fandom – and these messages can be more warmly welcomed than updates from friends and our actual loved ones.

That in and of itself is a form of validation.

Our lives and the people and the things that we love are interconnected. And it’s not all bad – especially if you are a marketer. Beloved (and even necessary or tolerated) brands are seen as part of life. Their messages via social media can be eagerly anticipated. It is a fascinating time to be alive, and there is no slowing down the evolution.

When I rode a dinosaur to work at the news factory (that’s really what newspapers were when I started and how they remained until a startlingly short time ago: a place where news was hunted, captured, distilled, manufactured and then fermented overnight for public consumption the next morning), there was nothing more beneficial in having your story written by a reporter and published in the daily edition.

News moved at the speed of a kid riding a Huffy 5-speed. But if you were fortunate enough to have your story land in a Sunday edition, where the readership was the largest and most concentrated, you had hit a media jackpot and were a rock star for days.

If your story successfully navigated that traditional media process, it had been validated, objectively reviewed and considered by an independent source, and selected for publication. You didn’t pay a dime for it.

The story was deemed newsworthy, and then shared with an audience that the editors of that media outlet believed would be in some way enlightened or informed by its inclusion. If the story was about your local business, your cash register rang.

The fractionalization and marginalization of media has had a particularly deleterious effect on print, radio and television – what once was all the media required. If a story is not zipping around the world in digital form today, it’s almost as if it doesn’t count – even in a local market. Never mind that print, radio and television digital sites are where almost all of this news originates.

It’s still incredibly important to be validated, regardless of the platform on which it occurs. That’s why a story that includes original reporting – even, or perhaps especially, on a credible independent blog site – is of such value and why it always and forever will far distance itself from a contributed media release that is hung on news-aggregation sites or allowed to bounce around in the Google algorithm in search of a place to land.

If you read the media trades, you may have heard over the past few days about Cammi Pham’s recent hacking of the digital dating site Tinder. If you didn’t, that’s OK, too. It probably just means that you meet people the old-fashioned way.

Nonetheless, the digital marketing strategist from Canada’s hack of Tinder was intended to prove… that you could hack Tinder, I guess. After reading her blog, it’s unclear why she took on this challenge. It may have been motivated by sheer Millennial boredom. Nonetheless, Pham’s digital sleight of hand makes for an interesting case study in the power of validation.

She generated a disproportionate number of likes on the site by creating a profile picture that indicated she was the “hot match of the day” on the site. Pham wrote in her blog that she thought the inclusion of those words created some peer pressure for other Tinderers to reach out to her.

Tinder does not have “a hot match of the day” designation, and through this orchestrated approach to differentiation with a fake brand acknowledgement, she received far more attention than she otherwise might have.

That validation – or perceived validation – was the difference-maker. She created validation, but then the audience further validated her effort. Tinder’s algorithm took it from there.

Less than 17 hours from the time she began this experiment in, as she put it, becoming “the most hated woman in Toronto,” she had accumulated more than 2,100 matches with would-be suitors.

Like I said, some experimentation on humans is OK, I guess – if it’s in the name of science.

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As always, stay classy.

Chris Krug is president of the progressive media communications firm No Limit Agency in Chicago. No Limit is a full-service agency whose practice focuses on strategy, brand management, creative campaigns and delivering unparalleled placement in the media. No Limit Agency works with some of the best-known brands in North America, and that’s not a coincidence. Contact Krug by calling 312-526-3996 or via email at [email protected].