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September 12, 2013
The Need for Meaning
 
A funny ("Oh my god, did you see that?") video goes viral on YouTube with 1,070,221 views in a day. 850,000 tweets go out on the first day of a new music/media festival. A brand's Facebook page gets 65,004 Likes in one hour on its first day.
 
I hope you know that global clients are keeping score and measuring an agency's effectiveness and income from such statistics and raw numbers.
 
Which is why people and brands cheat to get those numbers up.
Which is why Facebook regularly does a scrub of phantom accounts.
Which is why reviews on Yelp!, TripAdvisor, and Amazon (who started the review model all those years ago) are often written by employees, ex-employees, and competitors.
 
Which is why I'm writing this.
 
What do these numbers and behaviors mean?
 
Of course, case by case, there may be some real meaning, some real enthusiasm, and real love being expressed in popular social media.
 
But I have a challenge for you: Put some real meaning in all of your work.
 
Invest your writing and design, your strategy, and posts with something deeply human, vulnerable, and real.
 
You could play with human meaning via emotions such as fear, lust, and pride — but remember, they've been manipulated by our industry for generations. 
 
Instead, consider real human qualities with meaning…a weakened, humiliated man. A woman who liberates her mother from shame. An unsung hero in a dark factory. An angel who warms the heart and soul of a lonely second grader. A person fighting against all odds for a dream or life goal no one else understands. A stranger touching a stranger and awakening. A moment of enlightenment, bliss, and joy in nature, or real, raw terror, like climbing up the ladder of the high dive at the public pool for the first time.
 
For these and many other stories have potential meaning — real, thoughtful, human meaning just waiting for your touch.
 
In fact, the more time you spend with any online fan or follower, the more time you spend making a deeper connection with one; the more meaning you pour into the pixels, the more universally attractive you'll be.
 
It's hard to have only 30 seconds tell a real human story and also explain why the product's new Flashomatic XL additive makes it up to ten times faster. It's often even harder to make a post or tweet say "click me" to someone whose fingers are swiping upward like mad, looking for a sexy image or a friend’s avatar.
 
It’s a fact of life, maybe. But it's also a fact of life that people everywhere in this world are hungry for meaning and they generally starve during the search.
 
Numbers are for number counters. And there'll always be enough numbers for them to count.
 
Emotions, feelings, dreams, desires, fears, goals, tears, laughter, and anger are for human beings. So please, please give us human beings something really, truly, deeply meaningful.
 
And you'll win. Your brand will win. Your agency will win. And the world will thank you.
 
Let's see if we can get 100 likes on this essay by tomorrow. ;)

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As a strategist, writer, designer, producer, director, actor, musician, performer, teacher, trainer and speaker, creative marketing was a potentially ideal career for Paul. Yet after years of winning dozens of global creativity awards with various agencies, Paul gave up the awards pursuit and became a professional human being.

Paul launched the1101experiment in 2001, focusing on bringing top-level strategy, creativity and multi-dimensional success to global brands, but with an added emphasis on positive ethical and social opportunities. Paul's thinking has been published worldwide and has predicted many global cultural shifts long before they happened. 
Paul leads a mastermind network of friends, colleagues and multi-talented professionals from around the world who are strategists, writers, artists, web, social and interactive specialists, who are involved on all client work.
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