The Currency Of Meaning

by David Doze


It seems a day doesn’t go by without a new list in my inbox claiming to offer the path forward to social media success.

3 simple steps to gaining social media visibility

8 steps to becoming a savvy social media entrepreneur

6 steps towards a successful Facebook campaign

OK, I get it. Lists are easy to consume and don’t sound like work. But the truth is there is a limit to how far functional knowledge and day-to-day experimentation will get you.

It takes a deeper understanding to successfully develop strategy and creative that can crack the social media nut. So let’s start with a bit of history.

The age of despots

In the age of broadcast (think 50s – 70s), advertisers operated in a locked-down, controlled marketplace where interruption was the rule of law. Slogans – tightly-constructed in a manner that no one dared touch – thrived. Ad agencies built their entire reputations on crafting these memorable phrases. They held all of the marketing cards and over time became despots – ruthlessly dominating each and every broadcast.

It takes a licking and keeps on ticking

Melts in your mouth, not in your hands

We do it all for you

The rise of spin

In the 80s came the 24/7 news cycle and, as a result, the rise of PR. In a multi-channel, always on universe, marketers soon realized that they would have to loosen their grip (a little) and focus on shaping the message. The message would be designed to travel far and wide, where advertising simply could not afford to go, bringing audiences back to the almighty slogan where (overcome by brand attraction) they could do little to resist.

The age of meaning

Fast forward to today – a hyper-social world where ad despots and spin doctors are living in exile. Ad creative is being drowned out. The carefully-crafted PR message is being broken into a million pieces.

So what are we as marketers to do? First, we need to recognize that we are now operating in the age of meaning. Not a “save the planet” kind of meaning, but rather meaning as currency. It is a world in which individuals give their time and attention in exchange for something of value. Gone are the days of self-serving claims, bully tactics and product promotions thinly disguised as philanthropy.

More on how the notion of meaning as currency applies in a marketing environment.

How does it work?

Meaning can be as simple as telling a great story, prompting an unexpected laugh or passing along a positive affirmation. Meaning is being ambitious, challenging the status quo, enabling change or sharing lessons learned. And meaning is being constructive, solving a problem, and enabling others to do something that has never been possible before.

In this age of meaning, marketing teams need to be composed of diverse talents and skills in a way we have not seen before. In our case this means bringing together public relations, digital and brand strategists, along with journalists, editors, videographers, producers, directors, web developers and designers to develop and execute our programs.

Here is a partial list of the qualities we look for when evaluating the potential success of any creative we develop:

  • Memorable
  • Authentic
  • Tactile
  • Relevant
  • Targeted
  • Disarming
  • Simple
  • Timely

If you are interested in discussing the ideas presented here or would like to know more about how we may be able to help you achieve your marketing goals, contact us.