I think everyone realizes now that one of the biggest challenges in marketing is that there is simply too much noise. There are too many outlets blasting too many (irrelevant) messages into an already over communicated marketplace. And interestingly enough I think that the ultimate solution to the problem will come from buyers not marketers.
Please note that what follows is an idea in progress.
In this post I'm going to steal a very big word, singularity. In 1965, I. J. Good first wrote of an "intelligence explosion", he believed that if machines could even slightly surpass human intellect, they could improve their own designs in ways unforeseen by their designers. The first improvements might be small, but as the machine became more intelligent it would become better at becoming more intelligent. That increasing ability to become more intelligent might lead to an exponential increase in intelligence. In 1983, Vernor Vinge called this event "the Singularity." Futurist Ray Kurzweil has probably been the most visible proponent of the idea. This brief and less than complete description of Technological Singularity is important because studying The Singularity is what brought me to this idea around messaging, marketing, and mass influence in the future.
Currently in media there is massive fragmentation. Social media is making a big move and is facilitating over communication. Fundamentally everyone has a megaphone with which to shout into the noisy marketplace with ideas that may or may not be relevant or even right, but they are heard at some level by some people and increasingly, a lot of people.
So as I studied The Singularity it occurred to me that the answer to how do you get your message to the masses and have it be heard most likely won't be answered by us, it is much more likely to be answered by the individuals collectively that we hope to communicate to. In fact, it is my belief that another form of singularity will occur, in which potential customers will become evermore sophisticated in their ability to filter and consolidate information. As they become more sophisticated, they create individual influence streams from which they get all of their information, information that is highly personalized and highly selected. Rather than trying to increase the number of people they follow they become increasingly selective about who they receive information from ultimately reducing the noise while becoming much more connected to the channel through which they receive information. RSS was the first glimpse and promise of the idea that you could consolidate the information that you wanted into one single feed. In social media FriendFeed is trying to do that. And overall web wide Twine is also trying to do it. But for most consumers they don't go far enough.
I don't think that either of them will get it fully right either. As broadband gets better and video tools get better, video will play an increasing role as the medium of choice. And individuals will look to those they trust to tell them where and what they should look at with increasing regularity. The result will be micro stations if you will that are consolidated feeds of interactive video that allow the person in 5-7 minutes two or three times a day to get a view of what is happening in the world that they care about. This will also result in a sort of digital protectionism that restricts information. Outwardly, people will still identify with groups, they'll be Republicans or Democrats or hunters or opportunity seekers but they won't want to hear from the pundits, they'll want to hear from THEIR pundits and the people those people recommend and they'll want it delivered concisely through video in one single easy to swallow fashion in under 10 minutes. Video will have to be interactive so that they can see and gather the information that is being discussed. People will be expected to communicate their important of ideas rather than in 140 characters like Twitter, maybe in 45 seconds or less.
What all this means for marketers and for salespeople is that they must be able to develop into real thought leaders and trusted consolidators of information. If they are not they will lose their voice and their ability to broadcast. The singularity of the media distribution channel and the consumer will result in a highly efficient, super knowledgeable consumer of information. One created by over marketing and over communicated who through overwhelm creates and evolves a single superior source of information based on self selection and intense specialization of interest combined with strong source prejudice.
Right now each of us must become the most visible, most credible, most important communicator we can to develop a real following of people who want to hear what we have to say. We have to be extremely careful what we filter and allow into the aggregate because once we let something in that feels like the old style of marketing or noise, we are not only tuned out but shut out of the channel altogether.
The goal of all of this by the listener is to shut out all attempts at unwanted outside influence and rely more internally on the recommendations of what is important from those that matter to them. It is a sort of "small but focused" crowd source for information they care about.
Social media is your tool and your chance to get known and develop your following and to perfect your messaging and presentation skills. I doubt you have more than five years before you see this massive shift in how people consume information simply because it is unlikely that we can continue to take in the amounts of information we do and filter it all without focus and consolidation of they information into only what we want to hear.
This thought is not complete yet and as I keep thinking about it and unraveling what I'm seeing, I'll clean up the idea, but I'd love your thoughts.