What does an increasingly connected, socially networked, world mean for brands wanting to take strategic advantage of the opportunities it presents?

That was the topic for Matt Anthony, CEO of Kansas City-based digital marketing agency VML in his keynote presentation at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference.

Supporting the assertion about the world being tremendously connected (especially via social networking), Matt offered several metrics:

  • Of the 6.8 billion people on Earth, 1.8 billion go online via PC, including 75% of North Americans.
  • There are 4 billion mobile phones globally and 6 billion wireless subscriptions.
  • 75% of the world visits a blog or social network when online, with social media accounting for 22% of total online time.
  • The average person in the US spends 16 hours online weekly vs. 11 hours watching TV.


When a majority of people are connected to both content and to each other (and each other's networks and content), what strategies will winning brands be pursuing?

According to Matt, they'll be:

  • Mobile - Winning brands understand the need to translate their web brand strategy specifically for mobile with everything it means for where, when, how, and why people are using mobile devices. Additionally, it will increasingly be about innovatively opening a brand's experience to enhancements and developments from outside the brand - imagine an app store for your kitchen appliance, your car, your pet, etc.
  • Social - Winning brands will compellingly integrate personalization and customization into their online experiences. Beyond simple interaction, brands should be offering ways for audiences to attach their personal interests to experiences allowing them to create innovative impacts through their interactions with other audience members.
  • Relevant - In one of the most intriguing statements Matt made, he discussed how millennials are looking for both deep relationships and instant gratification - simultaneously. That's something for brands to ponder - how do you find a "real" strategic intersection of these two desires? Matt suggested brands who find it will provide experiences which are less brand-referential and dramatically more about injecting legitimate value into experiences.


  • Transparent - The big phrase within social media and branding - transparency. Everybody says it; what does it really mean? Matt's perspective is brands need to be true inside before trying to be true outside. With the technological tools now available to individuals to essentially broadcast (at least to their first line networks), they've been unleashed to hold brands to a strategic standard of, "Good for me. Good for you. Good for the planet."

Matt wrapped by identifying mobile plus social media as the killer app. That prediction makes sense. With mobile not just broadly accessible, but actually surpassing the impact of PCs and TV in the near future, real life and online communication will intersect at every waking moment, and even the sleeping ones (as a sleep apnea app is already out there for the iPhone). If that potential for the rapid spread of any customer's indignation isn't enough to push brands toward transparency, it's not hard to see them living on borrowed time in a comprehensively connected world. - Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you define a brand strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your customers.