How do you keep up with digital trends in today’s wired world — and must you become a Pokémon marketing expert now?

by JERRY SILFWER aka Doctor Spin
Expert in corporate communications and online persuasion

The other day, Anne signed herself up on my email list.

After leaving her email address, she was taken to a landing page where I asked her to share her biggest challenge in digital marketing and communications.

Anne’s biggest challenge was to keep up with digital trends in the accelerating pace of today’s online landscape. How can anyone today keep up?

Anne shares her frustration with hundreds of other readers who have answered that same question over the years. We become neophiliacs, always looking out for the next thing.

“Do we have to become fucking experts on ‘Pokémon marketing’ now?” she wrote.

Here goes:

Are You Asking the Right Question?

How can you keep up with all those new digital trends in today’s wired world?

The answer is simple:

You can’t.

You could pick a channel like Youtube and immerse yourself in that universe, only to realize that you have to choose a more precise focus. You might try to become an expert on game walkthroughs on Youtube instead, only to learn that you have to dedicate yourself to a certain type of game walkthroughs — or to a specific game developer or franchise.

Every time you scratch the surface, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed.

So maybe you think that there are certain blogs you should follow, certain podcasts you should listen to, or certain conferences you must attend.

But here’s the thing:

You’re asking yourself the wrong question, thus pushing yourself to look for everything and nothing at once.

As Clay Shirky said, “There’s no information overload, only filter failure.”

Digital Trend Filter: “What is Your Brand About?”

The question you should be asking yourself is this one:

What is your brand about?

The other day, I walked pass a local store for office supplies. As circumstance would have it, there was a Pokestop right outside their store front. In an attempt to grab this marketing opportunity, they got into Pokémon Go and added “lures” to attract players.

(A lure is a virtual item and part of the game. By placing your lure at a Pokestop, you attract virtual creatures for other players to catch.)

I was curious and found a spot across the street where I was able to sit down and observe. In an hour, around 25 Pokémon Go players visited the Pokestop outside the store front, but not one single player entered the store.

Still, I was more concerned that the office supplier’s website wasn’t optimized for mobile. And that the website couldn’t even tell me whether or not they had certain products in stock.

It got me thinking: I would estimate that their website has 500 unique hits every day. Either they come from search engines or online maps looking for office supply stores nearby. Or, they are people who already know the brand and want to learn more before deciding to stop by.

Compare this group of 500 people with the potential “Pokémon customers” whose intent is to catch Pikachu (or whatever names they go by); these Pokémon players aren’t necessarily in the market for stocking up on printer ink.

What if the office supplier had aimed their “creativity” at those 500 daily web visitors instead?

Know Your Brand First — Then Look for Trends

Marketing and communications are fiercely competitive areas, simply because we compete for one of the world’s most rare and valuable natural resources; people’s attention.

The hippie web is dead and online mediocrity is destined to follow suit.

If you happen to work as a communications officer for an office supplier, you probably won’t have to stay up to date with Pokémon Go marketing strategies. (As far as online trends go, you don’t have to catch them all!) Instead, you should probably be a total nerd for inbound marketing, customer loyalty, market research, online conversion, search engine optimization, and e-commerce.

In short:

If you know what your brand is about, you’ll know exactly where to look for interesting new trends to explore.

And in case you were wondering. I’m a Team Instinct Level 9 who haven’t captured Pikachu yet. (Apparently, there’s a hack at the beginning of the game.)

Digital trends and Pikachu and how to catch them all.

You can hide, but you can’t run.

How do you keep up with digital trends? Please share your best tips in the comment section.


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Jerry Silfwer is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.


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