Forget ‘new media’. It’s ‘now media’

RamKrishna RajaWhat do Oreo’s successful Super Bowl Twitpic and a Furby craze in Thailand have in common Both are example of the power of ‘now media’, according to RamKrishna Raja, digital managing director at IPG Mediabrands.

In case you missed all the social buzz about the Super Bowl last weekend, Oreo was the surprise social-media winner among all those brands that were slugging it out in the digital gridiron.

The brand’s prompt (don’t we all wish we had clients who were this responsive to approve creative?) and clever twitpic that took advantage of the Super Bowl blackout was retweeted more than 16,000 times and favourited 6,155 times before the game was over.

This was in addition to the TV spot the brand ran, which drove 30,000 fans to follow Oreo’s Instagram account in less than hour. Others brands tried to leverage as well, but Oreo slamdunked it (pun intended). Some brands did diddly-squat.

If social media is about driving conversations (which it has always been) then most of the big brands spending lots of resources in driving systematic, pre-planned social media strategies are somehow missing a very important part of this whole new instant-media that is emerging around us. ‘Now media’ is the new ‘new media’. I might even humbly posit that being in the ‘now’ is as important for your brand as much as it is for you.

We might plan a professional conversation with a prospective client weeks in advance, but we don’t necessarily plan conversations with friends that far ahead. If you do, you are either breaking up or you’ve got issues. We converse about topical and pertinent things.

But strangely, brands plan their social conversations to ‘friends’ (AKA audiences) like an automated ‘conversation’ vending machine that robotically spits out ‘interesting’ posts that are intended to drive up PTAT (people talking about this) scores. The point is…PTAT is a ‘now’ metric. And the more responsive you are with respect to what is happening in the ‘now’, the more your PTAT will rise.

‘Now media’ today drives TV, reality shows, social conversations, YouTube memes, Twitter RTs, Instagram hashtags and more. ‘Now media’ is insta-contagious, as opposed to a viral which has an amplification trajectory (Gangnam style being a classic example). ‘Now media’ is not necessarily logical. A ‘cute’ cat video is logical. A picture of Furby is not.

Yes…remember Furby? Let me tell you a story about how Furby got people in Thailand staring at their mobile screens.

Furby, my friends, is the most popular ‘thing’ in Thailand today. It all started with a very popular star innocently instagramming a pic of her gazing at a hot-pink Furby. The next thing you know, everyone takes pics with one and everyone wants one. One has to only look at Thai Instagram and Facebook feeds to see just how many are ‘Furby’ing.

A couple of local brands that sniffed it early were nimble enough to take advantage of this ‘now’ media opportunity. Riding on it, they have driven their PTAT scores up to 400 to 500 per cent while the larger brands have been mostly silent and waiting in ‘approvals’ land. The brands that did understand the power of now are now happily PTAT-ing their way to social glory.

Brands that are nimble and flexible enough to react and respond to events—conversations that are happening in the now—are the ones who will have a better chance of social success in this new now-media world. You can plan all you want. Sometimes all your meticulously planned social engagements might fail, just like the unfortunate failure of Coca-Cola’s ‘Chase’ website during the very same Super Bowl game. But you really can’t plan a blackout, and you certainly cannot be envisioning leveraging Furby to help drive your brand the next quarter!

PTATs and other ‘now media’ metrics will permeate marketing much more in the coming months and years than CTRs and GRPs. Marketers must take note that they will have more success investing in resources that help them win the ‘now media’ world rather than tools and technologies that are built for the ‘now old’ new media world.