shiny new object syndrome in marketing

November 24, 2008 ·



there's a phrase that has come to rise in the last while that goes like this: shiny new object syndrome. i don't know who coined it, but the saying started in tech circles, most notably the journalism side of things where writers rapidly move from covering one new thing to the next. they shower adoration upon a new gadget, or application and as quickly as they vociferously touted it, they would put it aside to bolster whatever was new, never really exploring in depth what any one thing in particular was capable of (features) or why people should use it (benefits).

shiny new object syndrome.

for the most part, SNOS has exhibited itself on the application front, specifically on the social media front. there's too many to count or keep track of that have fallen victim to this plague. the cycle goes that they launch, get a lot of media attention, there's some consumer uptake, and as quickly as they came to rise they seem to escape the popular consciousness. both media and consumers.

as of late, i'm seeing this model of adopting and disposing of things enter into the marketing world. of course it's due to the barrage of new media opportunities, web based or hardware based, that have entered the market in the last few years. and the malaise parallels that of the media coverage; we find them, we activate them, then we drop them.

all of us are to blame for this, myself included. we try to lead our consumers, or at least keep pace with them, so we jump to whatever they jump to. we as agencies make the recommendations and marketers themselves demand it. we keep aiming to be innovative and so we move on.

but there's one thing we forget - users don't stop what they started doing. they invest a lot of time and effort into their presence there. people haven't stopped using facebook, or myspace for that matter despite slowed growth and and plateaued usage. and think of how many people still have and use a hotmail account because that's the place they started. none of these are new anymore, but used just the same. in that regard, these are just as valuable places as all the shiny new ones. in fact, they may warrant more of our attention because they are proven (by still being alive) and our investment here would likely stand up. there's at least less risk our investment will be for not.

sure, there's the flash in the pan. we come charging out of the gate with that gets us noticed and some groundswell in our favor. but we have to also think of the longer life of the brand in these spaces. think about all the investment and all the equity you build into a property only to abandon it. consumers flock to us because of the value we provide. when we leave it fallow, we risk some consumer dissonance and in this powerful social age, it is too great a risk.

yes, there are temporary efforts that aren't sustainable. some efforts are in and out, but those need be efforts that are becoming of such an approach. but as it relates to the social media world and communities, there's no good reason why discontinuing efforts in this area is a good idea.

i'm not saying don't experiment. absolutely we should. it's about not abandoning what we start. seeing it through to it's real end. what that end is and when, i don't know. it just requires some thought about it rather than just dumping it. there's lots of great new things out there and there's room to give them a try, but where there is uptake and significance, keeping it up. we need to persevere to fully realize the potential of our presence in these spaces and get from our consumers what we desire.

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