57 channels and (nothin’ on)

June 30, 2010

Some of you reading this probably don’t remember this Bruce Springsteen hit or how 57 channels seems so “pre-U-verse” when this was released in 1992.

“Well now home entertainment was my baby’s wish

So I hopped into town for a satellite dish

I tied it to the top of my Japanese car

I came home and I pointed it out into the stars

A message came back from the great beyond

There’s fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on”

So almost 20 years later we have every kind of multi-media, social media, mobile media, blank-blank media to keep our shortening attention spans occupied. But to a certain extent, is there really nuthin’ on?

In some cases I do feel that this sensory overload has warped our sense of time. We want instant gratification and short message spurts to communicate our needs or wants. We rarely watch “live” TV and the thought of having to actually wait for our online streams to load and play is crazy. And we want to take this all with us, all the time. So we have mobile devices now that are essentially super computers in our pocket.

I am guilty with all of the above, but it does make me think. From a communications standpoint is this bad? How has this changed how we deliver our message, brand promise, and call to action?

And that is where I find peace. All of these tools are simply new channels in our arsenal. And all the old rules apply. Know your brand and what it promises, know your audience and what they want and need, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

The other big message here is that in the past, for the most part, we had to only deliver a message. Now we can engage our customers, create a two-way street, and even remedy a problem all right now. The power of instant gratification goes both ways. If the customer tweets a bad experience and you are there immediately to fix it, everyone wins. No holding on a 1-800 number, no filtering through an FAQ section of a website, and certainly no sending in the UPC code in a self-addresses mailer. So when the customer feels supported on their channel and we are listening and then reacting, what a brand champion we have created.

So, I’d change the Boss’s classic to 570 channels and yes, there is somethin’ on, let’s just hope we are paying attention.

What’s on in your world?


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