At home I have not one cat, not two cats, but three cats. I’m a self-confessed cat man, which goes against the run of things when blokes are supposed to like dogs. But I’ve always preferred cats to dogs because of their character; the aloof and eratic feline nature puts the more goofy and reliant personality of canines firmly in the shade in my eyes. And it was while debating the age-old cat v dog argument with some friends that the analogy with social media and advertising came to mind. Bear with me on this…
Dogs bark noisily, cats purr softly. Advertising’s always been in-your-face. In fact, the louder it is, the better: advertising that doesn’t get noticed, doesn’t work. Just like a hacking mutt, it demands attention if you want it to shut up and you can’t open a magazine without it jumping all over you. Social media, on the other hand, gets quietly on in the background. Like cats, it’s more subtle, more intelligent and more restrained. Cats and social media are altogether more civilised.
You can train dogs, you can’t train cats. Well OK, you can train cats, but not in the same way and it’s nowhere near as easy. Cats are independent creatures that you can’t really direct; like a social media campaign, you feed it and guide it, but it has a life of its own. With a cat, you give up a certain amount of control. A dog on the other hand can be trained to be extremely obedient, and indeed needs to be. You have to keep a dog on a lead, just like you have to set tight constraints on an advertising campaign to stop costs running away with you. Where’s the fun in that?
Dogs need bathing, cats take care of themselves. I don’t mean to be rude, but a lot of dogs smell. Or they slobber everywhere. Or both. When was the last time you saw a stinking feline or a cat owner covered in goober? That’s right, never. In the world of marketing, advertising needs a big clean up every now and again to stop it stinking up the place. Advertising can get messy if you get it wrong; big bucks, no response. Social media, on the other hand, is an iterative process. Ongoing learning and small adjustments keep a campaign ticking along and improving. It’s a ‘hygienic’ form of marketing.
Dogs run in circles chasing their tails, cats go off on their own. What happens if you don’t clean up after a dog and keep it entertained? It runs in circles chasing its tail like a fool. Same with advertising; campaigns don’t have the ability to evolve by themselves and can easily stagnate. But cats just get on with it; they entertain themselves in the same way that social media can take on a life of its own that, with gentle guidance, becomes something with independence and social appeal.
Dogs smell other dogs bums. OK, I don’t have an analogy for this one. I just thought I’d throw it in for good measure.
So to summarise, whereas advertising has to be in-your-face to work, has to be tightly controlled and needs an overhaul every now and again, a social media campaign is subtle, capable of evolving independently and works better ‘off the leash’. Any more comparisons I’ve missed?
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