SAN FRANCISCO—Twitter global business marketing head Daina Middleton has called on brands to nurture participation rather than relying on traditional methods of persuasion, at the Holmes Report's 2015 In2 Innovation Summit in San Francisco.
Middleton, who kicked off the second edition of the In2Summit in front of a packed house at the Ritz Carlton, told delegates that companies which embrace a more participatory approach "and then nurture its values are the ones that will rule tomorrow."
Middleton used the popular game Minecraft as an example, pointing to its "amazing participation value," despite not necessarily looking like the most elegant or attractive experience.
She contrasted that with traditional methods of marketing. "In the beginning of my marketing career we talked about persuasion," said Middleton, noting that companies used media channels to simply communicate information. "Marketing through persuasion is over, and marketing through participation is here to stay."
W2O Group president Bob Pearson, who moderated the session, asked Middleton why brands still appear to fear moving away from the traditional persuasion model. "You think about inviting people in and that’s scary," responded Middleton. "But do you want to be part of the conversation or not? The reality is the conversation is going to go on without you and in the old days you just didn’t see it."
"Companies perceive control or want control but the reality is they've lost control. "
In addition to a formula for the process — Discover + Engagement/Empowerment + Connection = Participation — Middleton also noted that a more participatory approach also requires marketers to dispense with the martial imagery that has typically characterised their approach.
"It was all war metaphors," said Middleton. "We were going to conquer shelf space, target audiences. In this new world where we are asking people to participate, war metaphors are probably not the best metaphors we should be using."
Middleton added that participation marketing means that brands should look to "innovate, not perfect." Importantly, it also means that companies need to figure out how to overcome siloed organizational models that are not best suited to maximise their communications performance.
Pearson, meanwhile, noted that brands are still utilising Twitter in a dated manner. "We’re not scratching the surface in terms of what Twitter can actually do for us, because we’re thinking in such a linear way," he said. "[Brands think]...it’s a channel, so we should advertise on it."
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