Why "Popularity" is not what you want!

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Why “Popularity” is not what you want!

At the eve of the 2020 US-elections, everything seem to be about popularity. Not just for politicians but also for businesses and individuals, regardless of the demographics. Are we so much in debt of feeling important that we are ready to break rules or look stupid, just to get more “Likes” or “Shares”?

I know that I am in the marketing business and analytics have never been more at the centre of all tracking of advertising campaigns. Still there is a big difference between providing relevant information and sharing “stuff” just for the sake of attracting attention. For the ones that have been following my work, I have always advocated quality rather than quantity… and when it comes to content, today, it seem that most focus on quantity.
Analytics yes, but let’s be specific
Anyone that posts on social media, video platforms or even advertising publications knows that it is critical to understand the return on investment (at least from a business stand point). B2B, B2C and consumer posting are now at a crossroad of sharing the same “news” platforms.
Even Microsoft’s LinkedIn now is becoming more like a “look at what I have done” platform rather than a valuable professional networking environment to foster collaboration. Posts about “sensational” ideas, videos of planes passing low on the horizon or personal quotes have invaded one of the last area for good business collaboration. Most of the individuals are interested in gathering the largest possible network just for the sake of having many “followers”. At the present time, we are so swamped with posts that it would take more time to read them all than answering the emails into the inbox.
As such, analytics become flawed as the competition is more about “Likes” rather than “Shares” for good content to be spread. Shares are no longer on the radar as most people scroll through the endless list of posts, trying to find really the very few that are worth reading and then, maybe, give it a clap, a like or a smiley face. Sharing requires too much time as focus is to go through the endless list and, as such, becomes a burden.

It is my belief that today’s analytics such as followers, likes or shares are okay as long as you are being honest about your content. It is also about your personal marketing growth in your statistics, not a competition versus others.
Some think it is okay to disrupt the trends by doing provocative ads (see Benetton’s provocative ads) or just plain disrespectful ones (see some examples) to temporary drive the audience’s interest to them. Such negative practices can be seen as “funny” at times, yet, they promote the sabotaging of good marketing rules as others think it is a good “stunt” to do and imitate. It leads to a down-spiral of quality and moral that removes all interest of the targeted audience towards good advertising and branding.
Popular might not be a good image
With the approach of wanting to go viral, many companies and mostly individuals are tempted to post provocative content just for the sake of attracting the viewers’ attention. The same way as networks push sensational news, our daily feed of “professional” information is populated with “stuff” that does not always bring value, worse, bring the bad image to individuals or brands.

If you look up the definition of “popular” in the Merriam-Wester dictionary, you will find the following: “of or relating to the general public”, “suitable to the majority such as adapted to or indicative of the understanding and taste of the majority”, “commonly liked or approved”.
At no place it says that it is a good or a bad connotation, it simply says that it goes or is approved by a majority. As the human race is, by definition, attracted by negative news, I could extrapolate the fact that popular can be driven by bad or negative content. In fact, check out your preferred news channel headlines and try to count how much is positive versus negative over a period of time. My personal statistics show 90% of negative for 10% of positive.
And then came COVID-19!
In addition of disrupting people lives, families’ integrity and financial stability, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the channels of communication used by the vast majority of humans.
In an
article published this summer by the Reuters Institute in collaboration with the University of Oxford highlighted that “Toxic messages amount to 21% of the overall conversation touching COVID-19 pandemic and the role of the WHO in the crisis” based on a filtered dataset extracted from 303 million tweets (222,774 tweets mentioning the WHO).
My view is that the amount of disinformation and aggressiveness contained into social media posts has changed the audience and the reasons for using those channels.
What started with Facebook’s family & friends oriented “communication” is now replacing news media channels as politicians, activists, celebrities and everyone else think it is okay to bluntly write (or say) what they would not share in normal circumstances, many times for the sake of being “popular”, behind the anonymity of their smartphone.
Is there still a way to promote good communication?
I am a marketing professional and my work is to find, test and guide the next steps in good communication for the ones that are willing to use them properly. I have already expressed my views in several articles including “Is this the new age for Marketing?” and I stand by my position that we have to go back to a more direct, face to face communication.
The hiding behind social media must stop. As such, video communication is the next step to engage with; but there are rules that must be respected to win followers and create brand loyalty:
  1. Be truthful in your content, do not exaggerate and stand-by what you say
  2. Engage with smaller audiences, seek feedback and interaction
  3. Do not monopolise people’s time with over 30-minutes video calls. Remember, our attention span is about 15 minutes long… don’t overstretch it
  4. Create a schedule for people to join you in your video broadcasts, it helps all for a better time management

In October, I have inaugurated the Creative Lab in Munich, Germany to help clients in adding video marketing to their overall marketing strategy. It is not about PowerPoint presentations, it is not about monologues, it is about communication. It is not about popularity contests, it is about bringing positive value to the audience that takes time to watch and interact.

Popularity is not always a good sign. Some dictators are/were popular and their era has spread fear, chaos and dishonesty to the world. Marketing is not about popularity, it is about reaching the right people, at the right time, in a positive and constructive way.

About the writer: Flavio Stiffan is a business development and marketing strategy freelance consultant with focus on creating market expansion game plans, many times focused on the creation and relationship with ecosystems. He has supported several International and global clients in developing a stronger brand strategy. In October 2020, Flavio has inaugurated the Creative Lab with focus in providing companies and individuals with innovative approaches to marketing and video marketing strategies. His motto is “Taking your Ideas beyond”. For more articles and information, visit

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